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October 14, 2017

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins I Put a Spell on You

Screamin' Jay Hawkins I Put a Spell on You

Shock Rock

The song by blues singer and pianist Jay Hawkins was originally intended to be a blues ballad about love and obsession However, the studio session and its subsequent aftermath transformed the song and the singer into something more theatrical and macabre. The story, Hawkins says, is that the producer, Arnold Maxin, “brought in ribs and chicken and got every drunk and we came out with this weird version…I don’t even remember making the record. Before, I was just a normal blues singer. I was Jay Hawkins. It all sort of just fell in place. I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death. ”

It was recorded first in 1955 for Grand Records and then again in 1956 for Okeh Records. The latter  is the version most of us know. The song was successful, but did not chart nationally. DJ’s loved it, including Alan Freed, who added it to his “Rock and Roll Review.” Freed, evidently, suggested the demented performances for Hawkins — cape, coffin, smoke and fog, tusks, snakes, and cigarette-smoking skull named “Henry.” A form of “shock rock” was born. (Shock rock is rock or metal music where the artist gives live performances that shock the audience.) And Jay Hawkins became Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lists “I Put a Spell on You” among its “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.” Rolling Stone magazine has the song on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” There have been numerous covers, including versions by Nina Simone, The Alan Price Set, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bryan Ferry, Sonique, Jeff Beck featuring Joss Stone, Marilyn Manson, Alice Smith, Annie Lennox, and Bette Midler (her version featured in the 1993 film Hocus Pocus.)

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was born Jalacy Hawkins in Cleveland, Ohio. He studied classical piano and played the guitar. He originally wanted to be an opera singer, and has mentioned Paul Robeson as his idol. Hawkins was also a boxer. In 1949, he became the middleweight boxing champion of Alaska. He continued to record, tour, and perform for many decades. Hawkins died in 2000 at the age of 70. His influence of theatrical performances is seen in Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Black Sabbath, and Marilyn Manson, to mention a few.

Here are the lyrics to “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins:

I put a spell on you because you’re mine
Stop the things you do
Watch out!
I ain’t lyin’, yeah
I can’t stand
No runnin’ ’round
I just can’t stand, don’t put me down
I put a spell on you because you’re mine

Stop the things that you do
Watch out!
I ain’t lyin’, ahhh
I love you I love you I love you
Baby, I don’t care if you don’t want me,
I’m yours right now
I put a spell on you because you’re mine

For More Golden Oldies Music

The Daily Doo Wop Rec Room has daily featured doo wop music, rock and roll hits, R&B, or rockabilly songs that were hits during the first era of rock and roll (that is, from about 1952 until the British invasion in 1964). After a song is featured, it then goes into the juke box. You are welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections there. Every weekend, there is a Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday Night, and the juke box is full of song requests from the 1950s and 1960s.

Please click here for the Daily Doo Wop YouTube channel, to which you can subscribe. Thank you for stopping by The Daily Doo Wop. Hope you enjoyed “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

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