Classic Rock‘s Today’s memory
In memoriam Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Originally shared by ****
12th February 2000… „Screaming Jay Hawkins”
US blues singer Screamin’ Jay Hawkins died aged 70. A Golden Gloves boxing champion at 16, he was married nine times, spent two years in jail, was temporary blinded by one of his flaming props on stage in 1976. He recorded ‘I Put A Spell On You’ in 1956, covered by The Animals and Nina Simone.
Screaming Jay Hawkins – I Put My Spell On You
From the abum : At Home with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1956)
„I Put a Spell on You” is a 1956 song written by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, whose recording was selected as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It was also ranked No. 313 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Although Hawkins’ version did not make any charts, several later cover versions have done so. Nina Simone’s version reached No. 23 in the US Billboard R&B chart in 1965; it also reached No. 49 in the UK singles chart that year, and No. 28 when it was reissued in 1969. The version by The Alan Price Set reached No. 9 in the UK in 1966, and No. 80 on the Billboard Hot 100. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version reached No. 58 on the US Hot 100 in 1968. In the UK, Bryan Ferry’s version reached No. 18 in 1993, and the version by Sonique reached No. 36 in 1998 and No. 5 on reissue in 2000. The song has been recorded by numerous other artists. The song version by Jeff Beck featuring Joss Stone, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 53rd Grammy Awards.
Hawkins had originally intended to record „I Put a Spell on You” as a refined love song, a blues ballad. He reported, however, that the producer „brought in ribs and chicken and got everybody drunk, and we came out with this weird version… I don’t even remember making the record. Before, I was just a normal blues singer. I was just Jay Hawkins. It all sort of just fell in place. I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death.”
Hawkins first recorded „I Put a Spell on You” during his stint with Grand Records in late 1955, however that first version was not released at the time. It has since been reissued on Hawkins’ UK Rev-Ola CD The Whamee 1953-55.
The following year, Hawkins re-recorded his song for Okeh Records and the new version became a quick success. It was banned by some stores and radio stations, and did not appear on the record charts despite the fact it was clearly a good seller. The new version brought Hawkins together with Alan Freed and his „Rock and Roll Review”.
Up to this time, Hawkins had been a blues performer; emotional, but not wild. Freed suggested a gimmick to capitalize on the „demented” sound of „I Put a Spell on You”: Hawkins wore a long cape, and appeared onstage by rising out of a coffin in the midst of smoke and fog.
The act was a sensation, later bolstered by tusks worn in Hawkins’ nose, on-stage snakes and fireworks, and a cigarette-smoking skull named „Henry”. The theatrical act was one of the first shock rock performances, and a basis for much that came later in rock and roll, including Dr. John, Alice Cooper, Eric Burdon, Screaming Lord Sutch, Warren Zevon, Arthur Brown (whose band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown recorded „I Put a Spell on You” in 1968), Black Sabbath, Ted Nugent, George Clinton, The Butthole Surfers, The Cramps, and Marilyn Manson.