On a sad note, I’m here to report that the “Only One-Man Band That Matters,” the inimitable Hasil (pronounced Hazel) Adkins was found dead in his home in Boone County, W.VA on April 27, 2005. The death was not deemed suspicious.
Hasil Adkins,for those of you unfamiliar with him, was the chicken walking, head chopping, polka dotted hot rod driving wildman who has been steadily cranking out (non-stop for almost 5 decades) his own undeniably unique brand of Hillbilly Rock N Roll since Eisenhower was in the Oval Office.
For you Rockabilly fans who are unfamiliar with “The Haze” you just might be better served digging on your Charlie Feathers, Warren Smith, Johnny Burnette Rock N Roll Trio and Carl Perkins records. As great as all of the aforementioned Hillbilly hepcats are, Hasil Adkins is in a commodity meat filled world all his own.
If you like your Rockabilly achingly pure and served with enough demonic drive to scare the drawers off of Big Daddy Satan himself, well then, look no further. And abandon hope all ye that enter in the world of Hasil Adkins.
Eschewing minor musical informalities such as singing on key or tuning up his guitar, Hasil delivers the goods with just a little less subtlety than a ball peen hammer upside your skull. Rock N Roll with the emphasis on RAW, Hillbilly Blues in the key of X, Max Cady meets Billy Lee Riley on a PCP bender. In fact, it is said that Robert De Niro kept a tape of Hasil Adkins music with him on the set of the re-make of “Cape Fear” to help him pysch-out for his role as Max.
Brought to the attention of the musical world at large through “The Cramps” cover version of his monster non-hit “She Said” and the tireless efforts of the good folks at Norton Records, Hasil’s style has remained virtually unchanged through the years. Think of him as the audio equivalent of one of those WW2 Japanese soldiers who are found every so often hiding in the Malaysian jungle not knowing the war is over.
His lobe pumelling, skull slicing odes to fast cars, decapitation, hot pants, hotter babes and eating peanut butter on the moon are not for the faint of heart. His world is not all insane R n R though. The Haze had a beautiful pure country voice that could flip flop from the extreme end of the wildest, shack shakin’, tear it up, Rock N Roll to delivering a C & W ballad that’ll make you shed a tear or two in your beer. He was just as at home opening shows for P.I.L (John Lydon is a fan of his) as he was crooning Hank Williams tunes in some backwoods beer joint for a handful of his friends and neighbors. Admittedly, the music of Hasil Adkins is an acquired taste and one that likely won’t hold much appeal to RAB purists.
Author Nick Tosches may have put it best when he said this: “Like the Bible and
toilet paper, the music of Hasil Adkins belongs in every household and none is a home without it.”