#981: Down In The Alley by Ronnie Hawkins
Ronnie Hawkins was born in Huntsville, Arkansas, on January 10, 1935, two days after Elvis Presley. Hawkins’ mother was a teacher; his father, a barber. Known affectionately over the years as “Mr. Dynamo,” “Sir Ronnie,” “Rompin’ Ronnie,” and “The Hawk,” Hawkins’ love of music started in high school. He formed the first version of his band The Hawks while studying at the University of Arkansas in the 1950s. Ronnie remembers, he’d commandeer an old gas station on Dickson street for rehersals. “We’d unplug their outside Coke machine and plug in our instruments,” Hawkins said. “They had the warmest Cokes in town.” In 1958, on the recommendation of Conway Twitty – who considered Canada to be the promised land for a rock’n roll singer – Hawkins came to Hamilton, Ontario to play a club called The Grange. He never left. Adopting Canada as his home, Hawkins became a permanent resident in 1964. In 1958 he released his first single, “Hey, Bo Diddley.” This was followed the next year by “Mary Lou,” which turned Hawkins into a teenage idol, along with “Forty Days.” In 1959, Morris Levy signed Hawkins to Roulette Records for five years. Levy tried to lure him back to the United States, but Hawkins had fallen in love with Canada and didn’t want to leave his new home.