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Hawkins

Rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins, an early mentor of The Band, has died aged 87.

The news was confirmed by his wife Wanda, revealing that Hawkins died early yesterday morning (May 29). Talking to CBC, Wanda said: “He went peacefully and he looked as handsome as ever.”

Born in Arkansas, Hawkins’ music career kicked off when he moved to Ontario, Canada in the early 1960s, forming his group The Hawks, which featured Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and other members who would go on to perform alongside Bob Dylan and then eventually form The Band, of whom Hawkins was an early mentor.

Leading the tributes to his former bandmate, Robbie Robertson posted a message on Twitter after the news of Hawkins’ death broke, in which he wrote: “My heart sank when I heard “The Hawk” just flew into the sunset. The story of The Band began with Ronnie Hawkins. He was our mentor. He taught us the rules of the road. He was our mentor. He taught us the rules of the road.” Later in the message, Robertson called Hawkins “the godfather” and “the one who made this all happen.”

He added: “Ron prided himself in always having top notch players in his group. Levon Helm his drummer in the Hawks and I talked Ron into hiring Rick Danko on bass and vocals, Richard Manuel on piano and vocals and Garth Hudson on organ and sax. Along with Levon and me this became the magic combination.

“He had us rehearsing constantly into the wee hours,” he added. “We balked about it, but we got better and better. Our goal whether we knew it or not. After the Hawks left Ron and went out on our own, we joined up with Bob Dylan. Next the Hawks became The Band and the rest is history, as they say.”

The message concluded: “He was not only a great artist, a tremendous performer and bandleader, but had a style of humour unequaled. Fall down funny and completely unique. Yep, God only made one of those. And he will live in our hearts forever.”

See a number of tributes to Ronnie Hawkins, including from author Margaret Attwood, who called the news “very sad,” below.

The post Rockabilly legend and The Band associate Ronnie Hawkins dies aged 87 appeared first on NME.

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