Halloween weekend celebrations are winding down. The last costumed party-goers made their rounds and are nursing a nasty hangover. Kids are undoubtedly sneaking into the pantry for a piece from their candy stash. So what better way to say farewell to the holiday than with a classic tune from the great Screamin Jay Hawkins.
I Put a Spell on You is one of those songs that holds a unique place in Rock n Roll History. Part-gibberish, part gutteral rambling, the 1956 recording of the song might go down as one of the funniest and most bizarre music recordings of all time, and allegedly backed by a band who was completely drunk at the time (Hawkins included). Later after the success of the song, Hawkins was paid to give a live performance and requested to begin the show by emerging from a coffin. Decked out in full voodoo costume with a bone through his nose and a smoking skull-headed scepter, Screamin Jay Hawkins gives us a hysterical and captivating performance.
It’s hard to top that and Screamin Jay Hawkins remains best-known for this single. The song was later covered by Credence Clearwater Revival who made a much tamer version of the song – very different but still good. Hawkins had a handful of other mildly successful tracks, including Constipation Blues (apparently performed live in Paris with a toilet on stage). Paris would be the final resting ground of odd rock-man Screamin’ Jay, who passed away in 2000 – a self-taught musician and a character that certainly added some humor and vivacity to the world of rhythm and blues.
It’s always refreshing to find an artist that doesn’t take themselves too seriously and Screamin Jay Hawkins was certainly one of those. He also spawned enough children to carry on his legacy for generations, even if this legendary performance of I Put a Spell on You finally gets lost to history.