Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dale Hawkins--Suzie Q (1957)

     In the late 60's, Creedence Clearwater Revival became well known for a late 60's version of a rock and roll style known as swamp rock. A blend of rockabilly and southern blues, one of it's early stars was a guitarist from Louisiana named Dale Hawkins.
     Dale, like many others grew up in that area were influenced by country, blues, and gospel. His father, who left the family before Dale started school, was a traveling musician, and although Dale never remembered his Dad, he began to take up the guitar as well. He left home at the age of 16 he enlisted in the military and served a year and a half. Upon his release, he began a number of different jobs, one of which was at a record shop in Shreveport. It was here that the young musician met Leonard Chess who would become a huge influence in his latter career. Hawkins became one of the few white men to play on the Checker label (Chess' sister label) and soon after being signed wrote Suzie Q with James Burton. The song reached #27 on the charts, but it's influence far surpassed it's initial success as later in the 60's the song was covered by the Rolling Stones, and of course, CCR. It has been listed by Rolling Stone magazine as on of the 500 most influential songs of all time.
     Hawkins continued to record for Chess/Checker for quite a few years after this and had three more hits in the top 100. By 1959 the hits stopped coming, but Dale had a fervent following to those who were into Rockabilly and continued recording and touring until the mid-60's when he had an opportunity to produce others which led him into his next career as a record executive. He was influential in the careers of artists like The Five Americans, Bruce Channel, Harry Nilsson and Michael Nesmith.
     After being treated for prescription drug addiction in the late 70s, he moved to Arkansas where he spent the rest of his life. He passed away from colon cancer in 2010, but not before releasing a series of acclaimed albums, most notably, "Back Down to Louisiana" in 2007.



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