Sunday, May 01, 2005

Haze mourned

May 01, 2005
Hasil Adkins mourned
  • Family, friends, performers remember rockabilly legend

  • By Rick Steelhammer
    Staff writer

    DANVILLE — His straw cowboy hat perched atop a slate-gray coffin that matched the leaden Boone County skies overhead, backwoods music legend Hasil Adkins made his last public appearance here Saturday as he was rolled out of Handley Funeral home and lifted into a hearse.

    Adkins, 68, who developed a small but devoted global following for his hard-driving rockabilly rhythms, mournful blues and lonesome country ballads, died Tuesday at his Bull Creek home.

    In a career spanning five decades, Adkins wrote more than 5,000 songs, made countless recordings, and performed at venues from Chicago to New York. While his energetic, gritty, heartfelt and unpolished style attracted fans worldwide, it did not find a home with a mainstream recording label, perhaps because it was too raw and too hard to classify.

    “No one else sounds like Hasil,” said Ron Thomas Smith of Richmond, Va., who attended Adkins’ funeral and was helping the performer produce a “Possum Hollow Boogie” DVD featuring concert footage and scenes at Adkins’ trailer.

    “He never sang a song the same way twice, and he had the ability to make up songs — good songs — right on the spot. I remember a show he did in Chapel Hill, when he sang a song called ‘Blues in the Morning’ that I liked and asked him about. He said, ‘oh, did you like it? Then I’ll have to try to remember it.’”

    Cooper and Smith said Hank Williams III had planned to record with Adkins in June. A song in Williams’ current tour lineup mentions Adkins, and contains the lyric, “Hasil’s up in his holler hunchin’ them Boone County Blues.”

    “Words cannot describe how much Hasil’s style has influenced my own career,” Williams said in a message posted on his Web site on Saturday. “My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family, friends and fellow fans. Boone County has lost a true legend.”

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