Screamin Jay Hawkins Put a Spell on You
Since watching Annie Lenox on the Oscars sing Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic song “I Put a Spell on You”, we’ve been itching for the real deal. Annie did a great job, but the original is so much more, well, original!
Screamin’ Jay may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but in his time was a truly revolutionary performer, lighting ears and minds on fire whenever he went on stage. He was a professional boxer in Alaska before starting his musical career, and this song is perhaps his best known track, causing quite a sensation in it’s time. The original track was recorded with a completely intoxicated band, with Screamin’ Jay using rough grunts and wild vocal phrasing, but blacked out after the recording and had to re-learn the track by listening to it over the following days.
After releasing a watered-down version of the track (minus the overtly sexual grunts and groans) to the radio, the legendary radio DJ Alan Freed reportedly gave Hawkins $300 to perform by emerging out of a casket dressed in wild voodoo themed clothing to sing this song. Some called him the “black Vincent Price”, due to the mysterious and somewhat horrifying visage he embraced. “I Put a Spell on You” was the lead off number, and the act was an immediate underground hit that helped cement him into history as a music legend.