Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Interview

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins is a true rock ‘n’ roll original. He was into theatrical rock way back in the 50s, before anybody even knew what it was. Screamin’ Jay was wearing the outrageous costumes and utilizing stage props — all as part of his act.

Probably best known for his song, “I Put A Spell On You,” Hawkins would sing that song, and then be carried offstage in a flaming coffin.

Screamin’ Jay has got some new product on the market. Titled “Black Music For White People,” the CD is the first release on the just revived Bizarre label, distributed by Rhino Records.

We spoke with Jay about it.

Q – When did you get the idea to use a coffin in your act?
A – That coffin idea was Alan Freed’s, not mine. He decided that I should come on the stage, come out of the coffin, sing­ing “I Put A Spell On You.” He made sure I was on all his shows, his TV show and motion picture.

Q – Weren’t you scared of being in a coffin?
A – Frightened to death, because a black man don’t get into a coffin unless he’s got nothing to say about it. In other words, he’s dead. That’s why, it’s in my will today, cremate me, not once, but twice. I have two coffins here, and wherever I go, people want me to do the coffin act, and I say no. Now, if you want to add $4 – $5,000 to it maybe I’ll do it, ‘cause that’s put­ting my life on the line.

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