Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Day The Poultry-Themed Rockabilly Music Died

From the "Goddamn It, Why Didn't I Go See This Guy The Last Time He Played The Continental Club File," comes the sad news that beloved eccentric poultry-obsessed rockabilly legend Hasil Adkins has gone onto that great chicken ranch in the sky. From the AP:
Rock-a-billy artist Hasil Adkins, a one-man band whose screaming vocals and freestyle approach to rhythm landed a cult following, has died at 67.

Adkins' body was found Tuesday at his Madison home, where he lived alone. The cause of death has not been determined but it does not appear to be suspicious. The body has been sent to the state medical examiner's office, Boone County Sheriff's Deputy J.M. Thompson said Wednesday.

"Someone had gone to check on him and had found him," Thompson said.

Guitar. Harmonica. Drums. Foot-rhythm instruments. Adkins played them all - often while singing. A yodel, screaming and a high-pitched female's lark were some of his many voices.

The son of a coal miner, Adkins learned to played guitar before he was 10. He claimed the only time he practiced his songs was on stage.

Known to his fans as The Haze, Adkins struggled for decades to get noticed. In a 2002 interview, he said he mailed out thousands of tapes and records over a 30-year period while fishing for a record deal.

Even Richard Nixon got one, courtesy of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va. The president's reply to Adkins came on White House stationery in 1970: "I am very pleased by your thoughtfulness in bringing these particular selections to my attention."

...Adkins, who claimed to have written more than 7,000 songs, first emerged hooting and wailing in the 1950s, only to disappear again. European fans kept the rock-a-billy rage alive, and when The Cramps did an early 1980s remake of Adkins' "She Said," his records suddenly became hot again.

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What Adkins sang about was just as unique as his delivery, which was fueled by a 2-gallon-a-day coffee habit.

New York-based Norton Records combined new and previous recordings to release "Poultry in Motion," a collection of 15 Adkins songs about chicken from 1955 to 1999.

His "Chicken Walk" and "The Hunch" became two short-lived dance fads.

There also were tunes like "Chocolate Milk Honeymoon" and "Boo Boo The Cat."

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Two gallons of coffee a day, frequent trips to the emergency room, an anthology of chicken-themed roots rock songs, the ability to yodel and sing in a high-pitched woman's shriek---if only these new-fangled hipster kids could spend a decade or two on the Adkins diet, there might be hope for music.

The Haze--RIP.

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