1. Medium Ronnie Hawkins, left, and Wanda Hawkins posing for photographers
2. STILL IMAGE: Ronnie Hawkins, right, and Wanda Hawkins attend the premiere for "Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band" at Toronto International Film Festival
3. STILL IMAGE: Director Daniel Roher, from left, Ronnie Hawkins and Wanda Hawkins attend the premiere for "Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band" at the Toronto International Film Festival
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Ronnie Hawkins, recording artist:
(Reporters: "Hey, Ronnie! How are you?")
Hawkins: "Girls, girls! I'll be healed up in a couple of weeks and I'll be chasing you again."
RONNIE HAWKINS, PATRON OF CANADIAN ROCK, DIES AT 87
Ronnie Hawkins, a brash rockabilly star from Arkansas who became a patron of the Canadian music scene after moving north and recruiting a handful of local musicians later known as the Band, has died.
His wife Wanda confirmed to The Canadian Press that Hawkins died Sunday morning after an illness. He was 87.
"He went peacefully and he looked as handsome as ever," she said by telephone.
Hawkins had minor hits in the 1950s with "Mary Lou" and "Odessa" and ran a club in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where acts included such early rock stars as Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Conway Twitty.
He first performed in Canada in the late '50s and realized he would stand out far more in a country where homegrown rock still barely existed. Canadian musicians had often moved to the U.S. to advance their careers, but Hawkins was the rare American to try the reverse.
With drummer and fellow Arkansan Levon Helm, Hawkins put together a Canadian backing group that included guitarist-songwriter Robbie Robertson, keyboardists Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel and bassist Rick Danko. They became the Hawks, educated in the Hawkins school of rock.
Robertson and friends backed Hawkins from 1961-63, putting on raucous shows around Canada and recording a howling cover of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" that became one of Hawkins' signature songs.
But Hawkins wasn't selling many records and the Hawks outgrew their leader. They hooked up with Bob Dylan in the mid-'60s and by the end of the decade were superstars on their own who had renamed themselves the Band.
Hawkins, meanwhile, settled in Peterborough, Ontario, and had a handful of top 40 singles there, including "Bluebirds in the Mountain" and "Down in the Alley."
Hawkins kept in touch with the Band and was among the guests in 1976 for the all-star, farewell concert that was the basis for Martin Scorsese's documentary "The Last Waltz."
Over time, Hawkins mentored numerous young Canadian musicians who went on to successful careers, including guitarist Pat Travers and future Janis Joplin guitarist John Till.
Hawkins received several honorary awards from his adopted country, and, in 2013, was named a member of the Order of Canada for "his contributions to the development of the music industry in Canada, as a rock and roll musician, and for his support of charitable causes."
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Toronto International Film Festival , Obituaries , Celebrity , Celebrity deaths , Rock music , Movies , Film festivals , Country music , Arts and entertainment , Entertainment , Music , Arts and entertainment
Bo Diddley , Bob Dylan , Martin Scorsese , Garth Hudson , Levon Helm , Jerry Lee Lewis , Janis Joplin , Daniel Roher , Conway Twitty , Robbie Robertson , Ronnie Hawkins
United States , Arkansas , Ontario , Toronto , North America , Canada