Born David Michael Hawks, 17 July 1940, Thomasville, North Carolina
Mickey Hawks was one of the few fifties rock 'n' rollers who always remained true to his original style : screaming vocals, thumping piano. Though he never had a national hit, he was able to making a living from this brand of music until his untimely death at the age of only 49. At the age of two Mickey and his family moved from Thomasville to High Point, also in North Carolina. There he would spend his next 25 years before settling down in Readsville close to the Virginia stateline. The fifth of six children, Hawks learned to play the piano from his mother when he was thirteen. Inspired by Little Richard and later by Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey formed his first band in 1956, which was called The Rhythm Rockers. In September 1957 he joined The Night Raiders, a group led by Moon Mullins, who had a local radio show and played the sax. After playing together for some time, Moon wanted the band to cut a record to sell at dances and asked Mickey if he could write a song. The result was "Bip Bop Boom", a wild rocker, and the song most associated with Mickey Hawks. It was recorded in May 1958, originally for the Robbins Red label in Greensboro, NC, owned by one Eddie Robbins. 500 copies were pressed on red vinyl and sold after gigs.
Somehow Moon Mullins managed to have the record released simultaneously on the Mart label (from Martinsville, Virginia). The master was subseqently bought by Mike Oury, who owned the Profile label in Chicago. A slightly remixed version of "Bip Bop Boom" was released on Profile 4002 in October 1958. While the Mart release was credited to Moon Mullins and his Night Raiders, the Profile disc billed "Mickey Hawks with Moon Mullins and his Night Raiders". This third release of "Bip Bop Boom" sold about 50,000 copies, doing particularly well in Chicago and was even issued in South Africa on the Trutone label, where it reportedly became a # 1 record in Johannesburg. Oury signed the Night Raiders to a three-year contract. However, the next two singles on Profile, "Cotton Pickin'"/"Hidi Hidi Hidi" (1959) and "Screamin' Mimi Jeanie"/"I'm Lost" (1960) never came close to the success of "Bip Bop Boom", exciting as they were. Mickey and the band toured about a month to promote each record. They had a wild stage act and were very well received by most audiences, though there were problems at some theaters where people were used to traditional country and western stuff. In some cases the shows were stopped and people got their money back, because the excited crowd couldn't be controlled. Onstage the kinetic Hawks could imitate almost anyone, from Fats Domino to Chuck Berry, and of course his idols Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.
Things slowed down a little in the sixties. Apart from a reissue of "Cotton Pickin'" on the Hunch label in 1961, the band had only one single release between 1960 and 1968, namely "Gonna Dance Tonight, Parts 1 & 2" on the Lance label (1961), with Mickey on piano and Moon on vocal and sax. In 1963 the band broke away from Moon Mullins (temporarily) and continued on their own as the Night Raiders, playing mostly in Virginia, where they also had a TV show called "Saturday Night Country Style". New recordings followed in 1968 and 1971, but they didn't sell or remained unreleased. Cees Klop reissued the six Profile recordings on one side of a Collector LP in 1971 (my introduction to Mickey) and "Bip Bop Boom" was re-released as a single in the UK (1977) and Sweden (1982).
Hawks did several tours of Europe in the 1980s and cut a fine new album, "Sounds Of the 50's", in 1989, shortly before he had a fatal heart attack at his home whilst playing the piano. He left us much too early. Especially "Bip Bop Boom" and "Screamin' Mimi Jeanie" will always live on as specimens of rock 'n' roll at its most unadulterated.
More info : http://colorradio.com/Mickey_Hawks.htm
CD: Mickey Hawks, Bip Bop Boom (Star-Club CD 506002). A Swedish release from 1999. 24 tracks from 1958-1989. Recommended.
Discography : http://koti.mbnet.fi/wdd/mickeyhawks.htm (By Pete Hoppula)
Acknowledgements : Bo Berglind and Ian Wallis, Liner notes for the Star- Club CD.
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