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The Bizarre Life of Screamin' Jay Hawkins

By Steve Bergsman
Foreword By Eugene Robinson

“People think I’m stark-raving crazy, well, if that enables me to go to the bank, gentlemen, I want you to know I shall always be crazy. It’s a pleasure to be crazy.” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

WHAT CAN BE said about the artist known as Screamin' Jay Hawkins? Perhaps that he did more to promote over-population than any other American, fathering somewhere between 68 and 75 children, depending on who's counting. He also managed to milk one minor cult hit, 'I Put a Spell on You', into a 40-year career, which is also no small accomplishment (and didn't involve dodging child support).

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was larger than life as he emerged from a coffin with a skull on stick singing “I Put A Spell On You.” With one song, Screamin’ Jay, who studied piano and sang opera, became the embodiment of the sexually insatiable, voodoo empowered, black man feared by 1950’s America — caught between a self-created myth and a nearly unbelievable truth, which story is better?

I Put A Spell On You brings together hundreds of interviews with Screamin’ Jay, his family, and bandmates to weave a new tale of the life of this seminal rock and roll pioneer. Can the truth of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins really be known?

Legendary journalist, writer, and musician Eugene Robinson contributes a rivetting foreword about Jay’s influence on music and the black identity.

280 pages