b. February 7th, 1903 in Jefferson (Texas)

d. March 19th, 1974 in Compton (California)

WHY DO EVERYTHING HAPPEN TO ME

Route 66

December 1949 - 1955

HIGHWAY 49

Ace

October 1949 - January 1952

THE THRILL IS GONE

Ace

October 1949 - September 1951

BAD LUCK IS FALLING

Ace

1948 - 1961

Originaire du Texas, on dispose de peu d'informations biographiques concernant ce pianiste à la carrière brève. On ne sait pas à quelle époque exacte Roy quitte le Texas pour la Californie. On suppose qu'il s'est installé sur la côte ouest à la fin des années 30. Découvert dans un club de Center Street à Oakland par Bob Geddins en 1948, il démarre naturellement sa carrière pour les labels de ce dernier : Cava-Tone et Down Town ("West express", "Quarter to one"). Son premier groupe - The Four Jacks - est composé de Roy au chant et au piano ainsi que William Staples (saxophone), Ulysses James (un excellent et méconnu guitariste), Floyd Montgomery (contrebasse) et Madison Little (batterie). Evoluant d'abord dans la région de Richmond - Oakland, il signe chez Modern au début de l'année 1949. Roy en deviendra l'un des artistes les plus vendeurs sur la période 1950-1952. Malheureusement, un grave accident de voiture le blesse sérieusement à un bras, l'empêchant de jouer correctement du piano. Dès lors, il se concentre sur le chant laissant le piano à Willard Mac Daniels ou Lloyd Glenn. Quelques superbes morceaux voient le jour à cette époque : "Why do everything happen to me" (un titre écrit par Geddins qui raconte son accident de voiture), "Got my dreams under my pillow", "On my way", "Where you been", "My temper is rising", "Trouble makin' woman", "The thrill is gone" (repris par B.B. King qui en fera un succès mondial), "It's hard", "Highway 49". Pendant cette fructueuse période chez Modern, il bénéficiera de l'accompagnement de très bons musiciens de studio comme Maxwell Davis, Lloyd Glenn, Lorenzo "Buddy" Floyd et les meilleurs guitaristes de Californie qui lui apportèrent beaucoup : Lafayette Thomas, T-Bone Walker, Johnny Moore, Charles "Chuck" Norris. Après cinq années passées dans le giron de Modern et des frères Bihari, la vogue du rock & roll l'emporte sur le rhythm & blues californien et Roy se retrouve sans engagement. En 1958, pour le label Rhythm (dirigé par l'ex-basketteur Don Barksdale), il sort deux simples qui n'ont jamais été repris ni en LP ni en CD. Sa dernière séance date de 1961 avec notamment une nouvelle version de "Strange land" (composée à l'époque de Down Town) pour le label Kent (également détenu par les frères Bihari). Roy Hawkins décède en 1974. Grâce à Jonas Bernholm et son label Route 66, un premier microsillon reprenant une sélection des morceaux de cet artiste méconnu voit le jour en 1979. Puis, la firme anglaise Ace proposera diverses sélections complètes qui rendent justice à ce bluesman important. Si le CD "The thrill is gone" est strictement consacré à sa période Modern, "Bad luck is falling", lui, propose un panorama plus large incluant quelques morceaux de ses débuts chez Down Town mais également ses dernières séances pour RPM et Kent.

Originally from Texas, there is little biographical information about this pianist and his brief career. It is not known on what exact time Roy left Texas for California. It is assumed that he is installed on the west coast in the late 30's. Discovered in a club of Center Street in Oakland by Bob Geddins in 1948, he naturally began his career for Geddins' labels : Cava-Tone and Down Town ("West Express", "Quarter to one"). His first band - The Four Jacks - is composed of Roy on vocals and piano and William Staples (saxophone), Ulysses James (an excellent and underrated guitarist), Floyd Montgomery (bass) and Madison Little (drums). Evolving first in the Richmond - Oakland area, he signed with Modern in early 1949. Roy became one of the biggest sellers between 1950 and 1952. Unfortunately, a car accident seriously injured his arm, preventing him from playing the piano properly. From thenceforth, he focuses on singing, leaving piano to Willard Mac Daniels or LLoyd Glenn. Some great tracks emerge in the following years : "Why do everything happen to me" (a title written by Geddins that tells Roy's car accident), "Got my dreams under my pillow", "On my way", "Where you been", "My temper is rising", "Trouble makin' woman", "The thrill is gone" (covered by B.B. King will make it a worldwide success), "It's hard," "Highway 49". During this successful period in Modern, he has the support of very good studio musicians like Maxwell Davis, Lloyd Glenn, Lorenzo "Buddy" Floyd and the best guitarists from California who brought him much : Lafayette Thomas, T-Bone Walker, Johnny Moore, Charles "Chuck" Norris. After five years in the lap of Modern and Bihari brothers, the vogue of rock & roll outweighs the californian rhythm & blues and Roy finds himself without engagement. In 1958, for Rhythm label (headed by former basketball player Don Barksdale), he released two singles which have not been included neither in LP nor CD. His last session in 1961 including a new version of "Strange land" (composed when he was at Down Town) for the Kent label (also owned by the Bihari brothers). Roy Hawkins dies in 1974. Thanks to Jonas Bernholm and his Route 66 label, a first LP with a selection of tracks of this unknown artist is published in 1979. Then, the English firm Ace propose various complete selections that do justice to this important bluesman. If "The thrill is gone" CD is strictly devoted to his Modern period, "Bad luck is falling" offers a wider overview including some sides from his beginnings in Down Town but also his last sessions for RPM and Kent.