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Spellbound: Screamin' Jay Hawkins and the movies

by Dzimas
Spellbound: Screamin' Jay Hawkins and the movies by Dzimas
Probably Hawkins best known song is I Put a Spell on You, which has been used repeatedly in films, ranging from Stranger than Paradise to Natural Born Killers. There is something dark and hypnotizing about the song, like so many of his bizarre renditions of popular tunes which makes his music perfect for Halloween balls. You would think a guy who had one of the most bizarre and entertaining theatrical presences in Blues and Soul music would have more movie credits to his name, but amazingly the only one that stands out is Mystery Train, where he played the night clerk in Far From Yokohama. He has appeared as himself in a few movies,… Read more

Probably Hawkins best known song is I Put a Spell on You, which has been used repeatedly in films, ranging from Stranger than Paradise to Natural Born Killers. There is something dark and hypnotizing about the song, like so many of his bizarre renditions of popular tunes which makes his music perfect for Halloween balls.

You would think a guy who had one of the most bizarre and entertaining theatrical presences in Blues and Soul music would have more movie credits to his name, but amazingly the only one that stands out is Mystery Train, where he played the night clerk in Far From Yokohama.

He has appeared as himself in a few movies, notably American Hot Wax (1978) and A Rage in Harlem (1991). You can see him tear up the piano in the Nightmusic sessions with David Sanborn, looking like some half demented Voodoo King. Here he is singing Old Man River. And, as you can hear from this cut from his 1998 concert at the Olympia, he still had it right up to the end. Sadly, Screamin’ Jay is no longer with us, but you can enjoy him in this 2001 documentary, I Put a Spell on Me.

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