February 12th — “Spellbinding”

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124 February 12th    Spellbinding

Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Feb 12, 1956 a drunken band goes into a New York City recording studio…wait, is this a joke? No. It was on this day 55 years ago that [lastfm]Screamin’ Jay Hawkins[/lastfm] recorded his most famous song: “I Put a Spell On You.” With wild operatic swagger and gurgling, alcohol-fueled bravado, he unleashed a raw, guttural track that he was too drunk to remember; blacking out during the recording process does that to you. He later had to learn the song from the recorded version. Disc jockey Alan Freed offered him $300 to pop out of a coffin onstage and Jay created a wild persona that included gold and leopard skin costumes, voodoo props and a skull-on-a-stick. Thus becoming a pioneer in the Shock Rock field. The song was selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll.

Here’s a weird twist (or is it?) Screamin’ Jay Hawkins died on February 12, 2000. He left behind many children by many women; an estimated 55 at the time of his death, and after investigation, that number jumped to around 75. So, apparently, he did cast a “Spell.” But far and away one of the most unique characters in the world of Rock.

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