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15.6.08

Ted Hawkins




Ted Hawkins - Songs from Venice Beach - 1995 - Evidence Music, Inc

The tracks on this CD were taken from the 2 volume Venice Beach Tapes, recorded in 1985 and originally released on vinyl in 1986 on American Activities Brave 2 Records. There is info on this original album at www.the-bunker.org/ted/vinyl.html This is a fine album from a nearly forgotten artist. The late Ted Hawkins was a superb songwriter with a great voice and a unique guitar style. He learnt to play with the distinctive Open C guitar tuning, or 'Vestapol' style, characteristic of Mississippi and the Southern States). This album contains mostly cover versions of soul, and R&B songs played in Ted Hawkins' heartfelt, personal style. He injects a great soul and groove vibe into the album, and this kind of music needs to be heard by more people. If you haven't heard Ted Hawkins before, Check out his great "Watch Your Step" album and listen to his songwriting talents. A very underestimated musician. Try and listen to his outstanding version of John Fogerty's "Long As I Can See The Light " from the album "Ted Hawkins - The Final Tour." You may still get info about this album on the great Blues blog, "Bluestown (The City Of Blues)" @ THAWKINS/FINALTOUR

TRACKS

1. Searching For My Love
(Robert Moore)
2. I Got What I Wanted
(Brook Benton/Margie Singleton)
3. Ladder of Success
(Ted Hawkins)
4. Having a Party
(Sam Cooke)
5. There Stands the Glass
(Russ Hull/Mary Schurtz/A. Greisham)
6. Quiet Place
(Samuel Bell/Norman Meade)
7. Good Times
(Sam Cooke)
8. Too Busy Thinking About My Baby
(Norman Whitfield/Janie Bradford/Barrett Strong)
9. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
(Barrett Strong/Norman Whitfield)
10. He Will Break Your Heart
(Calvin Carter/Jerry Butler/Curtis Mayfield)
11. Gypsy Woman
(Curtis Mayfield)
12. Somebody Have Mercy
(Sam Cooke)
13. Share Your Love With Me
(Alfred Braggs/Deadric Malone)
14. All I Have to offer You Is Me
(Dallas Frazier/A.L. Owens)

REVIEW

Blending every form of roots music imaginable into his own singular soulful stew, the incomparable Ted Hawkins stuck mostly to R&B covers on this splendid 1985 solo outing -- songs by Sam Cooke (his idol), Jerry Butler, Bobby Bland, the Temptations, and Garnet Mimms receive gorgeous readings by the acoustic guitarist. But even though he only contributed one original, the touching "Ladder of Success," to the set, Hawkins wasn't content to remain in one genre -- his commanding revival of Webb Pierce's hillbilly weeper "There Stands the Glass" ranks with the disc's very best moments (of which there are many). © Bill Dahl, All Music Guide

ABOUT TED HAWKINS

Ted Hawkins was born, Theodore Hawkins Jnr, in Biloxi, Mississippi on 28 October, 1936. His was a tough childhood, the unwanted son of a prostitute and alcoholic mother and an absent father. As he grew up he was left pretty much to his own devices and soon found himself in trouble with the law, eventually being sent to a reform school at the age of only 12. It was also around this time that he started to show a fascination with the guitar. Listening to local blues and country artists, he learnt to play with the distinctive Open C guitar tuning, or 'Vestapol' style, characteristic of Mississippi and the Southern States. This style can be tough on the fingers, and Ted played his guitar hard. This meant he needed to protect his fingers from the strings on the fret board, so he started to wear black leather gloves, which over time became a trademark of his. Life as a teenager was still not good for Ted and he continued to get in trouble, at one point being sentenced to three years in jail for the theft of a leather jacket. On his release and now in his early 20s, he spent a lot of time hoboing around the states, illegally hitching rides on freight trains from Mississippi to New Orleans, Chicago, New York and up as far as Buffalo. During these times he took in as much music - his first love - as possible and scratched a living anyway that he could. Now, not only could Ted play a guitar, he could sing as well. His voice was first noticed by his piano teacher while he was in the reform school and he was encouraged to learn and develop his singing. In the end, heavily influenced by the style of Sam Cooke, Ted developed a mournful yet powerful voice which could express a real depth of emotion in the songs he sang. Fed up with the drifting and lack of opportunities in the Southern States, Ted took himself and his guitar off to Los Angeles in the mid-1960s to try his luck in the music industry. In 1966 he cut the first of a number of singles for the Money label which were all released to the complete indifference of the record buying public. To make ends meet Ted did whatever casual jobs he could find and took up busking on Los Angeles' Venice Beach as a release for his creative energy. It was here in 1971 that he was discovered by producer Bruce Bromberg who encouraged Ted to record some songs in his own personal blues style, rather than the cover versions that had been his mainstay up until then. Unfortunately, Ted's habit of getting mixed up with the local police had followed him to California and he spent a number of years in jail. During this time he lost contact with Bromberg and the 1971 recording sessions were left just gathering dust. Eventually in 1982, out of prison and free from an earlier heroin addiction, Ted once more met up with Bromberg and the tracks that they had cut 11 years earlier were released as an album, Watch Your Step on Rounder Records. While this release didn't exactly set the Top 40 alight, it did gain Ted a certain recognition for his unique style, Rolling Stone magazine giving the record a five star review and describing it as one of the albums of the year. True to form, Ted wandered off after making this one album and it was another four years before he could be pushed into a studio to record again. This time the session produced the 1986 release, Happy Hour and this was the record that was to be the catalyst that launched his career around the world. One of the problems with Ted's music had always been that it wasn't easily categorised. It was rooted in the blues of his home in the South, yet his vocal style was more soul, and there were also strong influences of country and even gospel in his work. This meant that it didn't particularly appeal to the mainstream music industry in the US. So airplay, and hence sales were scarce. However, his music was picked up by Andy Kershaw, then of Radio 1, who championed his cause and played his records regularly in his influential evening show. It was Andy who encouraged Ted to move over to England where he found himself playing to growing audiences, culminating in an appearance at the 1989 Glastonbury Festival. Despite his success touring around Europe and Australia he preferred the relative anonymity of his life in California, where he returned in 1990. Over the next four years Ted carried on with his busking on Venice Beach to a small but appreciative audience and did some small-scale recording for minor record labels. It wasn't until 1994 that he finally came to the attention of the US public, when Geffen Records picked up on his talent and persuaded him to record what was to be his final album, 'The Next One Hundred Years'. Sadly, just as sales of this record were taking off, Ted suffered a stroke on the 28 December 1994 and died a few days later on New Year's Day.



BIO (Wikipedia)

Ted Hawkins an American singer-songwriter, was born in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1936 and died in 1995. Hawkins was an enigmatic figure through most of his career; he split his time between his adopted hometown of Venice Beach, California where he was a mostly anonymous street performer, and Europe, where he and his songs were better known and well received in clubs and small concert halls. Born into a poor family in Mississippi, Hawkins lived a difficult early life, ending up at a reform school by age 12, and drifting, hitching, and stealing his way across the country for the next dozen years, earning several stays in prison including a 3-year stint for stealing a leather jacket as a teenager. Along the way, he picked up a love of music and a talent for the guitar. "I was sent to a school for bad boys called Oakley Training School in 1949," from a brief piece of autobiography he wrote. "There I developed my voice by singing with a group that the superintendent's wife had got together." After reform school, he ended up in the state penitentiary and was released at 19. "Then I heard a singer whose name was Sam Cooke. His voice did something to me." For the next ten years or so he drifted in and out of trouble around the country, living in Chicago, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Newark. In the middle of the mid 1960s folk music boom Hawkins set out for California to try for a professional singing career. He recorded several tunes without commercial success, worked at odd jobs, and took up busking along the piers and storefronts of Venice Beach as a way to supplement his income. Hawkins made ends meet by developing a small following of locals and tourists who would come to hear this southern black man, sitting on an overturned milk-crate, play blues and folk standards as well as a few original tunes in his signature open guitar tuning and raspy vocal style (Hawkins claimed the rasp in his voice came from the damage done by years of singing in the sand and spray of the boardwalk). A series of record producers and promoters would "discover" Hawkins over the years, only to be thwarted by circumstance and Hawkins' unconventional approach to life. The first of these was musicologist and blues producer Bruce Bromberg who approached Hawkins about a recording contract in the early 1970s. Hawkins tentatively agreed and recorded some dozen songs for Bromberg but again got into trouble and spent much of the next decade in jail and addicted to heroin. Bromberg lost contact until 1982, when he re-located Hawkins and got him to agree to release the previously-recorded songs as an album, Watch Your Step, which was released on Rounder Records. This debut album was a commercial failure but received rave reviews (notably a rare 5-star rating in Rolling Stone). Following the release of the album, Hawkins dropped out of sight again for a time, re-uniting with Bromberg in 1985 for a second album, Happy Hour. This album featured more original tunes from Hawkins and was again ignored in the U.S.; however it won acclaim and sales in Europe. Andy Kershaw encouraged Hawkins to come to the UK, and he moved to Bridlington in 1986 and enjoyed his first taste of real musical success, touring Europe and Asia as a well-known performer even while he remained anonymous in his home country. During this period Hawkins stayed largely out of trouble and refined his unique musical style: a mixture of folk, country, deep southern spirituals, and soul music. Hawkins' music was informed by but did not resemble blues music (Hawkins himself claimed he could not play the blues because his damaged fretting hand -- he wore a leather glove to protect his fingers -- would not allow him to bend notes). Despite his recognition and fame in Europe, Hawkins was restless and moved back to California in the early 1990s and again took on the role of a street performer. Several musicians and promoters encouraged Hawkins to record, but he did so only on occasion and without much enthusiasm, until he agreed to record a full album for Geffen Records and producer Tony Berg. For this first major-label release, titled The Next Hundred Years, Berg added crack session musicians to Hawkins' typical solo guitar-and-vocal arrangmements for the first time and brought national attention and respectable sales to Hawkins (though Hawkins, in typically contrary fashion, claimed to dislike the result, preferring his unaccompanied versions). Hawkins began to tour on the basis of this success, commenting that he had finally reached an age where he was glad to be able to sing indoors, out of the weather, and for an appreciative crowd. Hawkins, however, died of a stroke at the age of only 58 just a few months after the release of his breakthrough recording. Hawkins' widow, Elizabeth Hawkins, sold the rights for a film version of Hawkins' life story. Hawkins is the subject of Mick Thomas' song "57 Years".

8 comments:

charlie said...

Ted is terrific, even if all his albums sound the same! Can't have too much.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi! charlie. There is a sameness about all his stuff, but he was a talented guy, and he carried it off. It would have been interesting, had he lived, to see what way his career would have gone. Thanks for comment

Anonymous said...

Love Ted Hawkins. The guy had real heart. If his guitar playing had been better he might have had more musical range in his own tunes, but his voice was full of love and hurt, and that's always what touches me.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi! anonymous. Yes. His guitar playing was limited, but his sincerity and love for his music made up for it. TVM for comment, & stay in touch.

Anonymous said...

Please can you repost this album? the link leads to a search site, now, not to the album.

Thanks in advance... I was lucky enough to see Ted on Venice Beach many times between 1990 and 1994..

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, anonymous. Nice comment. Talented musician. Expect new link in less than 36 hrs. Thanks, and keep in touch

bullfrog said...

dead link, will you please re-post, thanks

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,bullfrog. Try
http://onmuddy
savariverbank.
blogspot.com
/2010/04/ted-
hawkins-songs-
from-venice-
beach.html

Thanks to Zivoin & on muddy Sava riverbank