Screaming Jay Hawkins

One of rock's greatest showmen, Screamin' Jay Hawkins would appear on stage from a coffin, wearing a bone through his nose, clutching a flaming voodoo skull on a stick, letting off firecrackers and unleashing an almighty cry to the heavens. A former boxer who dreamed of being an opera singer and idolised Paul Robeson, Hawkins became a prisoner of war and was tortured while serving in the US Airforce during WW2. He later played piano for Fats Domino, Count Basie and Wynonie Harris before turning solo and releasing his legendary signature song I Put A Spell On You in 1957. Initially meant to be a traditional ballad, the band recorded it while drunk and turned it into a creeping, sexy R&B classic full of grunts and screams so groundbreaking that it was later named on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock'n'Roll. A wild outsider, too abrasive for many, he gained great popularity in Europe and was rediscovered in the 1980s when he worked with garage rockers The Fuzztones and starred in several films by cult director Jim Jarmusch. He later toured with The Clash and Nick Cave and earned a reputation as an incredible womaniser who reputedly bore over 50 children by many different women. He died in 2000 after surgery on an aneurysm, aged 70.

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