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Martin Hawkins

Martin Hawkins

Martin Hawkins is the author of A Shot in the Dark – Making Records in Nashville 1945-1955, co-author of Good Rockin’ Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll, and the writer of some four hundred magazine articles, LP sleeve notes and CD booklets stretching back to 1971. He contributed to Record Mirror, Melody Maker, Goldmine, Country Music People, Blues Unlimited, Old Time Music, Time Barrier Express, some others he can’t remember, and a few he’s conveniently forgotten.

He is a historian by nature, and focuses on the people who recorded and promoted regional and "roots" music in the days before rock & roll. He likes songwriters such as John Prine and Guy Clark but that’s about as up-to-date as he gets, and jazz and blues beyond the early ‘60s is largely too modern for him.

During the 1970s and since, he issued more of Sun Records’ music than anyone knew existed, mainly on Charly, Spotlight (Sonet), Bear Family and other pioneering reissue labels. He’s proud of some other things, too: he arranged the first-ever issue (on Charly) of the music of the Flatlanders (Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock etc); he once got songwriter and producer Jack Clement to sit still and be interviewed for a whole day; he spent years researching the Complete Meteor hillbilly and rockabilly recordings for Ace Records; and decades producing two 8-CD boxed sets of early post-war Nashville record labels and a book, published in 2006, all titled ‘A Shot in the Dark’.

Until recently he was a career manager in the British health service, and necessarily a nocturnal writer of his various books, articles, LP notes and CD booklets. In 2007 he escaped the NHS to focus on freelance health and music research. He is married with two grown-up children, lives in Maidstone in Kent, tries to play too much golf, certainly watches too much football, and can’t understand why Arsenal don’t win every match.

 

40 articles

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by date

Hank Williams and Honky Tonk

Overview by Martin Hawkins, Record Mirror, 1 May 1971

MUCH HAS been written recently about the influence of Sam Phillips' Memphis Sun label on rock 'n' roll, especially since its British releases of recent ...

Around The Rock Roots

Comment by Martin Hawkins, Record Mirror, 31 July 1971

"DID YOU EVER HEAR A TENOR SAX, SWINGING LIKE A RUSTY AXE?" ...

Fats Domino: Walking To New Orleans

Profile by Martin Hawkins, Record Mirror, 20 May 1972

IN RECENT years the music of New Orleans in the 50's has been well documented on albums, but maybe now is the time to be ...

Warren Smith: A Great Rockabilly

Profile by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, December 1973

THE SMALL record company has always had a significant place in the Country Music recording industry for it is these which provide the raw material ...

Narvel Felts

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, June 1974

"DID YOU think I went over all right?" asked Narvel Felts. "Perhaps I was a bit too modern-sounding". We were standing backstage during the climax ...

Charlie Feathers

Retrospective by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, October 1974

Martin Hawkins looks at the career of a little known but much in demand artiste by record collectors ...

Sue Richards

Profile by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, November 1974

IT WAS 1 a.m. on a Sunday morning in Nashville. We were driving slightly unsteadily on Broad Street – a strangely empty scene since the ...

Carl Perkins

Retrospective by Martin Hawkins, Let It Rock, February 1975

And when I hear that double-eagle guitar Makes me think of Carl Perkins when he was a star,Makes me think I spent some of my ...

Charlie Rich: The Man And His Career

Profile by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, May 1975

CHARLIE RICH was twenty-three when he travelled to West Memphis to try his luck as a professional musician. Subsequently he moved his base of operations ...

Shelby Singleton

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Country Music Review, August 1976

SHELBY SINGLETON is well known in the country music business and really should not need introducing to CMR readers. But magazines in the main rightly ...

Linda Hargrove: The Unfulfilled Career of Linda Hargrove…

Profile by Martin Hawkins, Country Music Review, June 1977

EVER SINCE I last invested my year's savings in a visit to Music City and other musical areas of America, I have been meaning to ...

Augie Meyers and the Texas Re-Cord Company: Music To Make Your Feet Grin

Profile by Martin Hawkins, Country Music Review, October 1977

THIS IS A story about the small independent Texas Re-Cord Company of Bulverde, Texas. ...

Elvis Presley

Obituary by Martin Hawkins, Country Music Review, October 1977

WHILE NOT wishing to add to the enormous number of narratives, eulogies and gutter press 'exposes' which have appeared in print in recent weeks, it ...

The Prisonaires: Five Beats Behind Bars

Retrospective by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 11 January 1978

With doo-wop increasing in popularity, MARTIN HAWKINS reveals the 'inside' story of the Prisonaires, one of the South's finest vocal harmony groups. ...

Joe Ely: Texas Country Rock: Texas Twisters

Overview by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 25 November 1978

THE ECHOES of rock get older; and likewise those consumers who, like me, retain an interest in them – rather than giving in to the ...

Jimmy C. Newman: Jimmy Newman: Front Man of the Contemporary Cajun Movement

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, January 1979

Among the most successful exponents of cajun music, JIMMY C. NEWMAN has remained a chart contender from the days of his debut hit single, 'Cry ...

Mack Allen Smith: The Last Of The Great Unknowns

Profile by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 20 January 1979

MARTIN HAWKINS searched the Mississippi delta and found Mack Allen Smith ...

Jimmy C. Newman: Jimmy 'C' Newman: Cajun Music And The Big Beat

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 3 March 1979

Jimmy 'Cajun' Newman tells MARTIN HAWKINS: 'Cajun music has two speeds – off, and full-blast'. ...

Conway Twitty: Rockabilly Brought On Conway's Country Success

Retrospective by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, April 1979

ONCE, on a visit to America, I ate a cheeseburger in a Twitty Burger fast-food restaurant. The owner of this restaurant chain was Conway Twitty, ...

Bill Haley: The Guardian Of Rock 'N' Roll

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 7 April 1979

MARCH 1979, and rock king Bill Haley's in town, almost a quarter of a century since he recorded 'Rock Around The Clock', and 22 years ...

Sleepy LaBeef: Rockabilly's Tower Of Power

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 5 May 1979

IF WALT DISNEY had decided to make an animated cartoon of the rock 'n' roll story he would have needed a rockabilly character, and I ...

Billy Lee Riley: Red Hot Riley

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 21 July 1979

The volcanic music of Billy Lee Riley never quite erupted; Martin Hawkins tells how the talent remains hot. ...

Jack Clement: 'Cowboy' Jack Clement: The Nut With The Midas Touch

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 13 October 1979

RECENTLY, the successful Nashville-based record producer and songwriter, sometime singer, and failed movie mogul. Jack Clement, made his first visit to Europe. At the age ...

Dorsey Burnette

Obituary by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, November 1979

DORSEY BURNETTE was never a star, although he did make dents in the American Top Forty as well as the country charts, but his contribution ...

Jack Clement: "Everybody Loves A Nut"

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, January 1980

JACK CLEMENT could have written that song about himself. MARTIN HAWKINS investigates some of the reasons why. ...

Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show: Ray Sawyer: Hooked On Country And R&B

Interview by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 2 February 1980

RAY SAWYER isn't Dr Hook, but he does have an eye patch – a real one – and a pirate persona. He also had an ...

Doug Sahm, Sir Douglas Quintet: Tex Mex Makes Your Feet Smile

Overview by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 22 March 1980

MARTIN HAWKINS uncovers the Tex-Mex mix that gives the roots to the San Antonio sound. It's time to discover the music of Sahm, Fender and ...

The Flatlanders, Joe Ely: Joe Ely: Past And Present

Retrospective by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, May 1980

Texan star JOE ELY is not quite the newcomer to recording that we think. MARTIN HAWKINS reveals the tale of the FLATLANDERS' sessions of 1972 ...

John Prine: A Non Philosophical Singer/Songwriter?

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Country Music People, June 1980

WHEN I SPOKE to John Prine during a recent visit he made to Britain, he was searching, in this order, for his girlfriend (who plays ...

Billy "The Kid" Emerson: Billy 'The Kid' Emerson: Red Hot And Still Rocking

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Melody Maker, 19 July 1980

MARTIN HAWKINS talks to the 'resurrected' Billy 'The Kid' Emerson, a blues legend in his own lifetime. ...

Nashville

Overview by Martin Hawkins, The History of Rock, 1981

The producers and musicians who made country music a multi-million-dollar industry ...

The Sun Story

Retrospective by Martin Hawkins, The History of Rock, 1981

THE SUN RECORD COMPANY of Memphis, Tennessee, was one of the very few independent record labels to develop a unique and immediately identifiable 'sound'. ...

Country Boogie: Honky Tonks, Hoedowns And The Roots Of Rock

Overview by Martin Hawkins, The History of Rock, October 1981

IF RHYTHM AND BLUES was a major constituent of rock'n'roll, so too was the influence of country music in the form of country-boogie. Country-boogie was ...

The Big Bopper: Big Bopper: The Singing Texas DJ Who Rocked Over The Airwaves

Retrospective by Martin Hawkins, The History of Rock, February 1982

J.P. RICHARDSON, the self-styled 'Big Bopper', was one of the true characters of Southern rock'n'roll. ...

Ritchie Valens: The Young Singer Who Pioneered Chicano Rock

Retrospective by Martin Hawkins, The History of Rock, March 1982

WHEN ROCK'N'ROLL first stopped calling itself rhythm and blues in the mid Fifties, it became a young man's game. Teenage performers like Ritchie Valens began ...

Brenda Lee: Dynamite

Retrospective and Interview by Martin Hawkins, The History of Rock, September 1982

BORN BRENDA MAE TARPLEY in Atlanta, Georgia, on 11 December 1944, Brenda Lee is rumoured to have taken to the road with a singing group ...

Connie Francis: All-American Girl

Profile by Martin Hawkins, The History of Rock, September 1982

LISTENING TODAY to many of the records Connie Francis made for MGM in the late Fifties and early Sixties it is difficult to see their ...

Roy Orbison: The One With The Glasses

Profile and Interview by Martin Hawkins, Country Music Extra, Spring 1982

ROY ORBISON has a classic Country-music pedigree. He was born in Texas, lives near Nashville and formed his first Country band while still in his ...

Roy Hall: Tracks of 'The Hound'

Profile by Martin Hawkins, Goldmine, 30 March 1984

IF YOU think Commander Cody invented the country-boogie piano solo as a filler for his albums, then you never heard Roy Hall. This man was ...

John Prine: Another Diamond In The Rough

Profile by Martin Hawkins, Goldmine, 27 April 1984

IT SEEMED strange to be tracking down John Prine recently to find out why there hasn't been a John Prine album release in four years. ...

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