I have to thank my brother for introducing me to the rooted, scratchy, honest, and soul-revealing singer that is Ted Hawkins. I was finishing up high school and Ben brought home an album he'd heard in college from a man I'd never heard of before. "Bodie, you HAVE to play this album during a dinner date..."
It's easy to hear that Ted Hawkins has gone through a lot in life when hearing just a few simple lines with his sandy and unpolished voice. He was an ornery man with a past full of trouble, spending much of his youth and earlier days in correctional institutions from crimes ranging from theft to heroin addiction. Although he managed to release a few albums through this time, he continually went back to prison when not on the streets.
As the story supposedly goes, Ted spent his later years playing to jaw-dropped crowds on Venice Beach as the sandy, hot breeze molded his sandpaper voice. A rep from nearby Geffen Records gave him yet another chance after hearing the numerous original songs Hawkins was serenading the awed beach audiences with. In 1994, after years of struggle and run-ins with the law, Hawkins finally caught the attention of the American music scene after releasing his breakthrough album, The Next Hundred Years, on Geffen Records. Only months after his successful album was released, Ted Hawkins died from a stroke at the age of 58.
Ted Hawkins - Groovy Little Things
Ted Hawkins - Strange Conversation
Some songs are filled with life lessons, others are covers of classic staples and some pay homage to the styles of his idols, Professor Longhair and Sam Cooke. My favorites tend to be simple stories and converations he molds into a song.