As the most prolific white rocker on Checker Records, Dale Hawkins (born Delmar A Hawkins Jr on 22 August 1936) blazed a trail of blues-drenched Rock & Roll that was positively apocalyptic in its scope of originality and influence.
First and foremost was his Suzie-Q (1956) with its funky cowbell-infused rhythm offset by a swampy, hypnotic guitar lick that exploded into not one but two violently overdriven solos.
The six-string shredding was courtesy of 15-year-old James Burton, the first of many lead guitarists of note to record with Hawkins, among them Carl Adams, Roy Buchanan and Scotty Moore.
A modest pop hit at the time, the longevity of Suzie-Q was unprecedented. It sold and sold and sold, becoming a favourite of The Rolling Stones who added it to their 12 x 5 album.
It also launched the career of Creedence Clearwater Revival, who based much of their aesthetic on its murky mystique. Stunning rockers such as Little Pig, Tornado and Wild, Wild World followed, as did a second career producing hits for The Uniques, The Five Americans and John Fred and The Playboys.
Later albums, from 1969’s LA Memphis & Tyler, Texas to 2007’s Back Down To Louisiana revealed a relentlessly rockin’ soul – as did an incredible performance at the Ponderosa Stomp in 2009, where Hawkins reunited with James Burton for a full set of sheer rockabilly abandon.
Dale Hawkins passed away on 13 February 2010.