The Crazed Father of Psychobilly Rock, the unparalleled Hasil Adkins

Hasil Adkins (April 29, 1937 – April 26, 2005) was an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His genres include rock and roll, country, blues and more commonly rockabill. He generally performed as a one-man band, playing guitar and drums at the same time.

Adkins grew up in poverty in the midst of the Depression, and his spirited lifestyle is reflected in his music. His songs explored an affinity for chicken, sexual intercourse and decapitation, and were isolated in obscurity until being unearthed in the 1980s. The newfound success secured him a cult following, spawned the Norton Records label, and helped usher in the genre known as Psychobilly.

 

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Adkins was born in Boone County, West Virginia on April 29, 1937, where he spent his entire life. He was the youngest of ten children of Wid Adkins, a coal miner, and Alice Adkins, raised in a tarpaper shack on property rented from a local coal company. Born at the time of the Great Depression, Adkins’ early life was stricken by poverty. His parents were unable to provide him shoes until he was four or five years old. Some reports say he attended school for a very brief time, as few as two days of first grade.

Adkins’ given name, Hasil, pronounced “Hassel”, was often mispronounced. One of his brothers was named Basil, similarly pronounced “Bassel”. Hasil dated a girl named Hazel, and was later given the nickname The Haze. As he explained it, the nickname came about “’cause Starlight records wanted something catchy and I didn’t have no middle name.”

Hasil Adkins loved to eat meat, specifically poultry, the subject of many of his songs. Following the release of 2000’s Poultry in Motion, Adkins toured with “dancing go-go chicken” dancers. His diet also reportedly consisted in as much as two gallons of coffee a day, and copious amounts of liquor and cigarettes.

 

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Adkins was said to have suffered from manic depression and insomnia among other mental illnesses. He never married.

On April 15, 2005, Adkins was deliberately run over in his front yard by a teenager on an ATV. Ten days later, on April 26, Adkins was found dead in his home.

Nicknamed “The Haze”, Adkins career began in the mid 1950s in an improvised studio in his home near Madison, West Virginia. There he put his vibrant Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis influences to work by recording scores of songs, beginning with the track “I’m Happy”. In a later interview he exclaimed “I couldn’t afford no drums so I just stomped my feet.” He eventually learned to use percussive instruments to accompany his guitar and vocals, which would become his hallmark sound.

Adkins is often cited as an important precursor to the Psychobilly genre. New York City’s The Cramps attribute much of their punk-psychobilly traits to Adkins, and covered “She Said” on their live album Smell of Female (1983). This helped usher Adkins into cult status as an underground musician, and inspired Cramps’ drummer Miriam Linna and her husband Billy Miller to found the Norton Records label. North Carolina psychobilly group Flat Duo Jets also covered Adkins with “Let Me Come In” on the 1993 lo-fi compilation Safari, which was released on Norton Records.

While music was his true passion, Adkins enjoyed a career in the film and television industry. He played himself as a street musician in 2004’s The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, partially narrated The Red’s Breakfast Experience and starred in a comedic horror film entitled Die You Zombie Bastards!. As a composer he helped score Hair High in 2004. Adkins was also the subject of the Julien Nitzberg documentary The Wild World of Hasil Adkins, distributed by Appalshop.

 

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The craziest song in his repertoire was ‘She Said’. The song tells the tale of the frightening aftermath of a drunken one-night stand:

Why’s don’t I tell you what it is?
I wen’ out last nigh’ and I got messed up
When I woke up this mornin’
Shoulda seen what I had inna bed wi’ me
She comes up at me outta the bed
Pull her hair down the eye
Looks to me like a dyin’ can of that commodity meat
And says
And says
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Wooooeeeeahhh!

So this time we got waay over here
(Where?! Where?!)
I don’t know, since it was early dawn’s light
She jumped up outta the car
She pulled her hair down her eye
She looked to me like a dinosaur ’bout to jump outta that seat
She said
She said
She said
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Wooooeeeeyahhhh!

So this time we got waaay over here
And then we went waay down here
We got all the way over
‘n that lady sound like this:
Oooooo! Oooooo!
She said
She said
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Yoo ee ah ah!
Wooooaaahhyahh!

So this time we went waaay over there
Now things was really gettin’ goin’
Boilin’ up with the blisters
She sound like this:
Ooooo! Ooooo!
She jumped up outta the car
Pulled her hair down her eye
And do you know what she tol’ me?
Do you know what she try to tell me?
She said
Ooooo! It feel so goood!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo woo eeeeeyahhhh!
Yah yah yah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!
Woo ee ah ah!

The Cramps version:

Peace Train

Now I’ve been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun
Oh, I’ve been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Someday it’s going to come

‘Cause I’m on the edge of darkness
There ride the Peace Train
Oh, Peace Train take this country
Come take me home again

Now I’ve been smiling lately,
Thinkin’ about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
Something good has begun

Oh Peace Train sounding louder
Glide on the Peace Train
Come on now Peace Train
Yes, Peace Train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the Peace Train
Come on now, Peace Train

Get your bags together,
Go bring your good friends, too
‘Cause it’s getting nearer,
It soon will be with you

Now come and join the living,
It’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer,
Soon it will all be true

Oh Peace Train sounding louder
Glide on the Peace Train
Come on now Peace Train
Peace Train

Now I’ve been crying lately,
Thinkin’ about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
Why can’t we live in bliss

‘Cause out on the edge of darkness,
There rides a Peace Train
Oh Peace Train take this country,
Come take me home again

Oh Peace Train sounding louder
Glide on the Peace Train
Come on now, Peace Train
Yes, Peace Train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the Peace Train
Come on, come on, come on
Yes, come on, peace train
Yes, it’s the peace train

Come on now, peace train
Oh, peace train

Unusual and Very Bad Rock Band Names

If you think Nickelback, Smashing Pumpkins, Limp Bizkit and The Bare Naked Ladies are funny mindless band names, you haven’t heard anything yet.  The guys who thought up the names below must have been pouring through thesauruses while pumped up on a vodka cocaine mix.

The List in alphabetical order:

Abracadaver

Adickdid
Afrodiziac
Alcoholocaust
Anus the Menace
Baldilocks
Bassholes

 

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Blood Sledge Electric Death Chickens
Bondage A Go Go
BowWowWowHaus
Broadzilla
Bulimia Banquet
Cap’n Crunch and the Cereal Killers
Crappy the Clown and the Punch Drunk Monkies
Deepthroat Shotgun
Dick Duck and the Dorks
Disgruntled Postal Workers
Doris Daze
Dow Jones and the Industrials
Drunken Ugly Basement Brothers
Endangered Feces
Evil Beaver
Fat Welfare Moms On Dust
50 Naked Midgets
The Fred Mertz Experience
The French are from Hell
Frumious Bandersnatch
GangGreen
The Gaza Strippers
Duckbutter
Electric Al and the Poison Dart Frog McNuggets
Epileptic Disco
Ethyl Merman
The Fartz
Fearless Iranians From Hell
The Hostile Amish
Jehovah’s Witness Protection Program
Lesbian Dopeheads on Mopeds
Lubricated Goat
The Morning Shakes
Organic Condom Mazda Drugs
Porn on the Cob
Squirrel Nut Zippers

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Super Sonic Soul Pimps
Titty Bingo
UFOFU
Vomit Launch
The Whip-M-Out Girl’s
Willie Nelson Mandela
Zombies Under Stress
Zombina & The Skeletones

 

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Zorro and the Blue Footballs
Zsa Zsa
Zulu Leprechauns

Three Little Pigs

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Little Boy Blue come and blow your horn
Sheep’s in the meadow, and the cow’s in the corn.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Say they love the way you play that thing.

The king’s slave is a busy man,
But he loves the sound of your rock ‘n’ roll band.
The sheeps get a rhythm, and the cows get the tune.
Ain’t nobody out, “Go, Little Blue!”

Three Little Pigs were going to the hop,
But the Big Bad Wolf wouldn’t let them stop.
Little Boy Blue played a crazy beat,
And knocked the Big Bad Wolf off his feet.

[Instrumental Interlude]

Little Boy Blue played a crazy sound.
The whole castle come a-rocking down.
Wise men, old men, Cinderella, too.
They all got together in the Ballroom ado.

Three Little Pigs were going to the hop,
But the Big Bad Wolf wouldn’t let them stop.
Little Boy Blue played a crazy beat,
And knocked the Big Bad Wolf off his feet.

Little Boy Blue made the whole town dance,
The swingin’est shepherd in all the land.
The Queen calls down, “Award him with a kiss.”
“Ah, your highness, ain’t nothing to this.”

Three Little Pigs were going to the hop,
But the Big Bad Wolf wouldn’t let them stop.
Little Boy Blue played a crazy beat,
And knocked the Big Bad Wolf off his feet.

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Rockin Insects

I’m not sure why so many music groups have named their bands after insects.  Insects have their role in nature, bird feed, eating dead corpses etc., but insects are really disgusting little creatures.  Now don’t tell that to David Suzuki, he gained his Ph.D studying the organism Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies).  Some people find them interesting.  But to me bugs are bad little buggers.  Always getting into places where they shouldn’t be.

So when these musicians were thinking up a name for the band, why the bug names?  I think the acid and other mind stimulants may have had something to do with it.  I once had a friend who took some magic mushrooms, he described in vivid detail how he hallucinated that he was transforming into a praying mantis.   So I think there is a definite correlation between psychedelics and insect band names.

So here are some bands named after the creepy-crawlies.  m

 

The Crickets

 

Papa Roach  (maybe some connection to a burnt joint here).

 

The Beatles  (it has been well documented that these guys delved into the Lysergic acid diethylamide).

 

Adam and the Ants (these guys actually thought they were pirates, where the ants come in is anybody’s guess).

 

Barking Spyders  (drugs involved here without a doubt).

 

Bees Make Honey (sounds like a hippie band).

 

The Bollweevils,  (never heard of that insect) punk band from Chicago.

 

Centipedes

 

Daddy Longlegs

 

The Flys

 

Iron Butterfly (these guys look like experimenters).

 

The Bees

 

The Scorpions (this band could really rock).

 

I wasn’t sure if I should have included Sting.

I’m sure there are many more insect bands out there that I missed.

Stan Rogers

Stanley Allison “Stan” Rogers (November 29, 1949 – June 2, 1983) was a Canadian folk musician and songwriter.

Rogers was noted for his rich, baritone voice and his finely-crafted, traditional-sounding songs which were frequently inspired by Canadian history and the daily lives of working people, especially those from the fishing villages of the Maritime provinces and, later, the farms of the Canadian prairies and Great Lakes.

Rogers died alongside 22 other passengers (23 fatalities in all) most likely of smoke inhalation on June 2, 1983, while travelling on Air Canada Flight 797 (a McDonnell Douglas DC-9) after performing at the Kerrville Folk Festival. The airliner was flying from Dallas, Texas to Toronto and Montreal when an in-flight fire forced it to make an emergency landing at the Greater Cincinnati Airport.

Smoke was filling the cabin from an unknown source, and once on the ground, the plane’s doors were opened to allow passengers to escape. Halfway through the evacuation of the plane, the oxygen rushing in from outside caused a flash fire. Rogers was one of the passengers still on the plane at the time of the fire. Eyewitness reports published at the time said that a man of Rogers’ height and build escaped the plane, but then turned and went back inside, apparently to assist in the rescue of others.

His remains were cremated and his ashes scattered in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia.

He sang songs that the average person could relate to.

WHITE COLLAR HOLLER
Well, I rise up every morning at a quarter to eight
Some woman who’s my wife tells me not to be late
I kiss the kids goodbye, I can’t remember their names
And week after week, it’s always the same
And it’s Ho, boys, can’t you code it, and program it right
Nothing ever happens in the life of mine
I’m hauling up the data on the Xerox line
Then it’s code in the data, give the keyboard a punch
Then cross-correlate and break for some lunch
Correlate, tabulate, process and screen
Program, printout, regress to the mean
Then it’s home again, eat again, watch some TV
Make love to my woman at ten-fifty-three
I dream the same dream when I’m sleeping at night
I’m soaring over hills like an eagle in flight

Someday I’m gonna give up all the buttons and things
I’ll punch that time clock till it can’t ring
Burn up my necktie and set myself free
Cause no’one’s gonna fold, bend or mutilate me.

Stan’s version of Farewell to Nova Scotia is the best rendition out there.

The sun was setting in the west
The birds were singing on every tree
All nature seemed inclined to rest
But still there was no rest for me

Farewell Nova Scotia
The sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I am far away
On your briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh
Or a wish for me

I grieve to leave my native land
I grieve to leave my comrades all
And my parents whom I held so dear
And the bonny, bonny lassie
That I do adore

The drums they do beat
And the wars do alarm
The Captain calls, I must obey
So farewell, farewell
To my Nova Scotia home
For it’s early in the morning
That I’m far, far away

I had three brothers and they are at rest
Their arms are folded on their chests
But a poor, simple sailor just like me
Must be tossed and driven
On the deep, blue sea

A unique song to say the least: My Ding-A-Ling

“My Ding-a-Ling” is a novelty song written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew. It was covered by Chuck Berry in 1972 and became his only number-one Billboard Hot 100 single in the United States. Later that year, in a longer unedited form, it was included on the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions.

The song tells of how the singer received a toy consisting of “silver bells hanging on a string” from his grandmother, who calls them his “ding-a-ling”. According to the song, he plays with it in school, and holds on to it in dangerous situations like falling after climbing the garden wall, and swimming across a creek infested with snapping turtles. From the second verse onward, the lyrics consistently exercise the double entendre in that a penis could just as easily be substituted for the toy bells and the song would still make sense.

The lyrics with their sly tone and innuendo (and the enthusiasm of Berry and the audience) caused many radio stations to refuse to play it. British morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse tried unsuccessfully to get the song banned. “One teacher,” Whitehouse wrote to the BBC’s Director General, “told us of how she found a class of small boys with their trousers undone, singing the song and giving it the indecent interpretation which—in spite of all the hullabaloo—is so obvious… We trust you will agree with us that it is no part of the function of the BBC to be the vehicle of songs which stimulate this kind of behaviour—indeed quite the reverse.”

In Icons of Rock, Scott Schinder calls the song “a sophomoric, double-entendre-laden ode to masturbation”. Robert Christgau remarked that the song “permitted a lot of twelve-year-olds new insight into the moribund concept of ‘dirty'”.

During a short spoken introduction to the song on the single, Berry refers to the song as “our alma mater”.

The controversy was lampooned in The Simpsons episode “Lisa’s Pony”, in which a Springfield Elementary School student attempts to sing the song during the school’s talent show. He barely finishes the first line of the refrain before an irate Principal Skinner pushes him off the stage, angrily proclaiming “This act is over!”