Halloween Music History #4 (2015)

HALLOWEEN SONG #4: “I PUT A SPELL ON YOU”
SCREAMING JAY HAWKINS, 1956
(IN HONOR OF HIS 57-75 KIDS)


 He was stone drunk when he recorded it.
 
And the single’s never charted. Not on ANY chart that I can find….
 
 
No matter. “I Put A Spell On You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on the Okeh label from 1956 has persevered through the 
years, landing enough airplay on college, underground and oldies stations to rank as the #4 Halloween song of all time. 
John Fogerty’s done the song twice–solo and with Creedence Clearwater Revival. It’s also been recorded by, among others, 
Marilyn Manson, Them, Billy Squire, Brian Ferry, Leon Russell, Pete Townshend and David Benoit.
 
Born Jalacy Hawkins in Cleveland on July 18, 1929, he loved boxing as a youth, winning a Golden Gloves 
title. In 1949, he beat Billy McCan, the Middleweight champion, but then gave up boxing to concentrate on 
singing. While performing at a nightclub in Atlantic City, a woman in the crowd kept yelling “scream the song” 
and that led him to become Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.
 
Prior to recording “I Put A Spell On You,” Hawkins and his session musicians began drinking just to get in the 
right mood. Later, when he heard what happened, he had to listen to the recording so he could learn to sing it 
that way live. He appeared as himself in the 1978 movie “American Hot Wax” and prior to his performance, he checked 
the casket that he’d fall into…to make sure the oxygen tank in it was working OK. He’d perform “Spell” and at 
the end, he’d fall into the casket, which would then close on him. Someone once pulled a prank on him…by 
locking the casket with him inside it!
 
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins died in France, just outside of Paris, in the year 2000. To properly dispute money from 
his estate, his family and relatives were reportedly trying to track down his children.
 
All 57 of them.
 
And maybe upwards of 75.
 
Children, that is.
 
Think I’m kidding? Here’s more…
 
 
 
 

 

NEXT AT #3:
HE RUBBED ELBOWS WITH TWO PERFORMERS
WHO HAD #1 SINGLES OF CALENDAR YEARS
ELVIS AND SAM THE SHAM

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