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Info about singer Ted Hawkins (deceased)

Related thread:
Lyr Req: Peace and Happiness (Ted Hawkins) (8)

john c 15 Jan 00 - 11:12 AM
Terry Allan Hall 15 Jan 00 - 11:14 AM
Bugsy 21 Jan 00 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson at work 21 Jan 00 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Mike Billo 21 Jan 00 - 09:54 AM
keberoxu 23 Mar 16 - 07:08 PM
GUEST,# 24 Mar 16 - 01:56 AM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 24 Mar 16 - 04:47 AM
Long Firm Freddie 24 Mar 16 - 06:44 AM
keberoxu 24 Mar 16 - 03:21 PM
keberoxu 24 Mar 16 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,# 24 Mar 16 - 03:31 PM
keberoxu 24 Mar 16 - 08:09 PM
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Subject: Ted Hawkins
From: john c
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 11:12 AM

Does anyone have any information about the life and death of one of my absolute favorite singers, Ted Hawkins? I was lucky enough to see him live just before he died a couple of years ago but have found it very hard to get proper information about him apart from the usual publicity blurb. J.

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Subject: RE: Ted Hawkins
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 11:14 AM

Nice write-up about him in "Acoustic Guitar" a few years ago...not sure the date, but try

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Subject: RE: Ted Hawkins
From: Bugsy
Date: 21 Jan 00 - 07:45 AM

Saw him once in Fremantle Western Australia, and to be honest found him to be pretty average.

Tell me though, What was with the kid glove on his left hand. It's the only time I've ever seen a guy play guitar with his gloves on.



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Subject: RE: Ted Hawkins
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson at work
Date: 21 Jan 00 - 09:15 AM

The only Ted Hawkins I know was the one who recorded in the 2nd incarnation of Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers (best known for Hawkins' Rag, which for a lot of us who listened to the New Lost City Ramblers was our first mandolin piece!) I know next to nothing about him but believe he was once written up in the Old Time Herald. As Ernestine didn't say-- is this the person (of) whom (you) are speaking? Or a different Ted Hawkins. . .that business about the glove makes me think of Michael Jackson

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Subject: RE: Ted Hawkins
From: GUEST,Mike Billo
Date: 21 Jan 00 - 09:54 AM

The late Ted Hawkins spent most of his life in prisons and mental institutions. Nobody seems to want to talk about what he did to find himself in those situations, so details are sketchy. He played in open E tuning, and only played full barre chords with a glove on his left hand. He was a poor guitarist, but WOW, what a singing voice.

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Subject: Ted Hawkins
From: keberoxu
Date: 23 Mar 16 - 07:08 PM

My only look at Ted Hawkins was during his last tour; I saw him on the campus of UT Austin. The club was small, and the place was standing room only. The audience was courteous enough, it was only afterwards, leaving the club, that I heard the mutterings of those few who could not contain their displeasure -- I stress, few.

This is NOT the Ted Hawkins in Pete Peterson's post, but the Ted Hawkins in Mike Billo's post. Funny, I didn't think at the time of Louis Armstrong, because the phrasing is nothing like the same; these were two very different styles of singing. Hawkins' rhythm, like his guitar chords, had limits, while Armstrong could do anything with respect to rhythm. But some ears will notice the sandpaper/sand/gravel in both voices, both had very gritty sounding voices.
I recall the gloved left hand, and he said something about why he wore it, which I can't recall now. What I do recall is the wry remark about his admittedly battered-looking acoustic guitar, his only accompaniment, as it had been in the years when he sang on the streets. He told the audience that the guitar had gone to hell and back with him, so it was bound to be a little bit scorched.

On that studio album near the end, there was a back-up band. Hawkins mentioned that as well, noting, "They didn't say nothing to me!" -- in other words, those back-up tracks were not recorded with Hawkins, but put on at another point.

Somehow I recall the information, which could be incorrect, that Ted Hawkins and Graham Bond had the exact same birthday, which gave me chills when I looked at both their life itineraries. Bond died much younger. Hawkins somehow survived longer. No, this was no trend-setting artist, but the force of his personality was blunt and massive, overwhelming in its intensity. Onstage, though, it must be said, when not singing, he was so deferential to the audience: he accepted every request, even the song -- I won't say which one -- at which title he muttered, "Oooh, that's wordy." And he told us he had really not expected the standing ovation we gave him. Hawkins did not gush, but his gratitude, like the rest of him, seemed entirely sincere.

The last post before mine is sixteen years old. Between then and now, much more information has become public knowledge about the non-musical facts about Ted Hawkins. I will not dwell on them. The muck, it appears to me, has been as thoroughly raked as possible. In some of the pieces written about him, there are heavy doses of guilt on the journalist's part. I could do without that. I don't own any of his recordings, but I still have the sound of his voice in my ear. I'm glad I went to hear him that night.

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Subject: RE: Info about singer Ted Hawkins
From: GUEST,#
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 01:56 AM

This Ted Hawkins?

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Subject: RE: Info about singer Ted Hawkins
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 04:47 AM

I went to London with a friend to see him at (I think) the Victoria Palace and he was great. I know little of guitar proficiency and I expect his was a rather basic style...but effective! His voice was stunning and his delivery of songs was superb. He sang a version of 'North to Alaska' which I found absolutely compelling. Primarily a busker, I saw him playing for dimes around Quincy Market, Boston, Mass. where he was drawing big crowds. I seem to recall that fRoots did a feature on him but I may be wrong about that. Whatever, he died too young.

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Subject: RE: Info about singer Ted Hawkins
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 06:44 AM

An old thread, but here's a link to an obit dated 13 Jan 1995:

Ted Hawkins Obit - The Independent

Brief extract:

"Edward Hawkins, singer, guitarist, composer: born Lakeshore, Mississippi 28 October 1936; married (one son, four daughters); died Los Angeles 1 January 1995.
While stars of pop and rock still desperately search for that elusive quality, street credibility, the singer and guitarist Ted Hawkins was a genuine product of American street culture. The bluesman had many opportunities to create a big-time career for himself. Encouraged by those who appreciated his talents, he was often propelled into the spotlight, but he always returned to his roots and seemed happiest playing for dimes in the street.

Hawkins achieved cult status among fans around the world, but was usually to be found playing guitar and singing, while sitting on a milk-crate, entertaining passers-by in Santa Monica, California. He was often rescued from this fate over the years, by enthusiastic record producers and even by the BBC's roving reporter Andy Kershaw, who championed his cause in Britain. However Hawkins seemed torn between the promise of artistic success and the lure of a delinquent life style."


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Subject: RE: Info about singer Ted Hawkins
From: keberoxu
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 03:21 PM

Yes, 'pound-sign', THAT Ted Hawkins.

There is a relatively new tribute album with cover versions of Ted Hawkins songs; it is the sort of authorized tribute which includes an unlisted track that is a rare unreleased demo of Hawkins himself, and one tune, listed, sung as a duet by Hawkins' widow Elizabeth and one of their daughters, Tina-Marie Hawkins Fowler.

Interestingly, it is reported that after Ted Hawkins passed away following a stroke, his widow and family left Southern California, to which Hawkins had returned time after time over the years, and moved to....Austin, Texas. That kind of struck me personally, as it was there where I heard him perform.

The name of the album is "Cold and Bitter Tears," and I could not figure out what the label is, but it can be bought online.

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Subject: RE: Info about singer Ted Hawkins
From: keberoxu
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 03:27 PM

I just thought of one other thing that Louis Armstrong and Ted Hawkins could kind of agree on (assuming they were ever to strike up a conversation).

Armstrong, who turned to gold, some not-entirely-golden ditties like "Blueberry Hill," told interviewers: "There are no bad songs, only bad singers."   That is the sort of opinion that divides people from that day to this! It had sense if you applied it to larger-than-life Armstrong.

And it works for Ted Hawkins in a way. Some of his songs are better than others. When he covers the songs written by other songwriters, he is discriminating and shrewd. There are tunes and lyrics written by Hawkins that are fairly ordinary EXCEPT when Hawkins commands one's attention by singing them himself.

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Subject: RE: Info about singer Ted Hawkins
From: GUEST,#
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 03:31 PM

Thank you, keberoxu. Much appreciated.

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Subject: RE: Info about singer Ted Hawkins
From: keberoxu
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 08:09 PM

If there is a biography about this singer/songwriter, I do not know of it. If someone plans to write one, I hope they do it respectfully. Ted Hawkins' life was a chiaroscuro canvas of piercing light and oppressive darkness. It must be carefully rendered.

He did indeed spend some time in England, and was deported back to the United States. There is misinformation about this incident. James Foster (Texas) states that the deportation took place because Hawkins' passport had been allowed to expire. It is true that he came to the authorities' attention for a complaint of some kind, but no charges came of same. It was when he was "pulled over" and asked for ID that the passport problem came to light.

It is also true that he did hard time in the US, from what is reported this was largely if not entirely before the years in England. Some of those marks on his record left a very long shadow indeed. This accounts in part for the misinformation and talk about the England sojourn, as people learned of his past and expected the worst.

One fact that gets overlooked is that when the career connections took Ted Hawkins to England, he had a household and a family. This gets overlooked because they stayed in California while he left. The family included his wife Elizabeth (his third marriage by some accounts); she had been previously married and had children from the earlier union. Theodore "Ted" Hawkins III, however, was the son from that marriage. There were four daughters but I have yet to make out which of Elizabeth's marriages they came from.

This period of separation was amicable within the family. The career abroad kept Hawkins away for some time, I don't know how many years. When interviewed, Elizabeth Hawkins explained that the family loved Ted Hawkins enough to let him go and try what he wanted to try, and that they were supporting him if only from a distance.

There seems to be a connection with the Reverend Mable John and her Joy for Jesus ministry in Southern California; some Mudcatters may know that Mable John is a surviving sister of Little Willie John. She has her music-business resume and she pursued ministry as well. I don't know exactly how Mable John is connected to the Hawkins family but there may be a connection through marriage or something.

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