Ronald Hawkins, OC (January 10, 1935 – May 29, 2022) was an American-Canadian rock and roll singer-songwriter whose career spanned more than half a century. It began in Arkansas, where he was born and raised. He found success in Ontario, Canada, and lived there for most of his life. He is considered highly influential in the establishment and evolution of rock music in Canada.
Also known as "Rompin' Ronnie", "Mr. Dynamo" or "The Hawk", he was one of the key players in the 1960s rock scene in Toronto. He performed all across North America and recorded more than 25 albums. His hit songs include covers of Chuck Berry's "Thirty Days" (retitled "Forty Days") and Young Jessie's "Mary Lou", a song about a gold digger. Other well-known recordings are a cover of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" (without the question mark), "Hey! Bo Diddley", and "Susie Q", which was written by his cousin, rockabilly artist Dale Hawkins.
Hawkins was a talent scout and mentor of the musicians he recruited for his band, The Hawks. Roy Buchanan was an early Hawks guitarist on the song "Who Do You Love". The most successful of his students were those who left to form The Band. Others he had recruited later formed Robbie Lane and the Disciples, Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band, Crowbar, Bearfoot, and Skylark.
Links to Peel
Peel seems to have first played Ronnie Hawkins' material in 1970, according to available tracklistings on this site, although during his time in the US JP had probably heard the records which brought Hawkins fame in the early 1960s. There was a revival of interest in Ronnie Hawkins at the end of the 1960s, owing to his connection with The Band. his former backing group who had become highly regarded by rock critics at that time. It led to write-ups on him in magazines such as Rolling Stone and to a meeting with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. This attention enabled the singer to come out of obscurity and resume his recording career.
Hawkins was an exponent of the rock'n'roll music Peel liked, so the DJ continued to play songs from the musician in the next few years. However, he doesn't appear to have revisited Ronnie Hawkins' recordings after that. Besides The Band, another former backing group for Hawkins, King Biscuit Boy with Crowbar, recorded a session for Peel when they visited the UK in 1971, but it proved to be a one-off.
- 17 January 1970: Who Do You Love (LP - Ronnie Hawkins) Atlantic
- 31 January 1970: Come Love (LP - Arkansas Rock Pile) Roulette
- 28 February 1970: Down In The Alley (single) Atlantic
- 24 March 1972: Forty Days (LP - Ronnie Hawkins (1970)) Atlantic
- 24 March 1972: Forty Days (single) Roulette
- 13 November 1973: Mary Lou