On Sunday, Ronnie Hawkins, a musician, and entrepreneur who helped find and nurture The Band and a plethora of other musical bands that came from Toronto in the 1960s and 1970s, died. Hawkins died Sunday morning at a hospital in Peterborough, Ontario, according to his wife, Wanda. He has been struggling with a number of health difficulties in recent years.
Ronnie Hawkins, the single most important rock and roller in the history of Canada, has passed away at age 87.
The Band, Dale Hawkins, Bob Dylan and thousands of others wouldn’t be the same without him.
Music wouldn’t be the same.
He will be deeply missed, and thank you, Hawk. pic.twitter.com/R2E28p5bUj
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) May 29, 2022
Ronnie Hawkins, a musician, did not build a reputation for himself in the studio. Because he was not a natural composer, the majority of his recorded work was covered. In the United States, his highest-charting single peaked at No. 26. His theatrical presentations, on the other hand, were rowdy occasions defined by his booming voice, witty stage banter, and acrobatic skills such as his “camel walk.”
A loon into the late Rockabilly musician Ronnie Hawkins’ legacy
Ronnie Hawkins was born in Arkansas in 1935 and started performing in Canada in the late 1950s, ultimately residing in Mississauga and then in and around Peterborough. After finishing his military duty, he founded the Rockwood Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which became a popular stop for performers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Conway Twitty. To give himself a bad-boy image, Ronnie Hawkins ultimately granted himself first billing and started playing as Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, replete with slicked black hair and sideburns.
After a number of failed musical ventures, the singer-songwriter sought Twitty’s advice and proceeded on a Canadian tour in 1958. He said that eager-to-play bands were depriving the nation of music. Hawkins’ home in Mississauga, Ontario, is where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived for a few weeks in 1969, the year they conducted their famous “bed-in” in Montreal to agitate for peace. Hawkins was then transported by rail to Ottawa to meet with then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
John Lennon also hired him as a peace envoy, and the two traveled to China together. Throughout his career, he composed about 500 songs and received several awards and honors. In 1982, he won a Juno Award for a best country male singer for his album Legend In His Spare Time. In October 2002, he received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, and the Tragically Hip’s Rob Baker praised him for “taking budding artists and giving them an opportunity.” He was also given the Order of Canada in 2014.
Ronnie Hawkins’ health problems
In 2002, he had quadruple bypass heart surgery and three months later had a malignant tumor removed from his pancreas removed. The story was revealed in the 2004 television documentary Ronnie Hawkins: Still Alive and Kickin, when he mentioned encountering “the Big Rocker in the Sky” one day.
Hawkins resided in a 5600-square-foot home on a 175-acre property north of Peterborough from 1962 until 2017. He and Wanda relocated to Peterborough after selling the bulk of their land for around $4 million.