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Jesco White at Hasil Adkins funeral in Boone County

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  • Justin Hopper
    Courtesy of Chuck Kinder. Photos - Hasil Adkins mourned photo by M.K. McFarland Alen Purcell (left)
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2005
      Courtesy of Chuck Kinder.

      Photos - Hasil Adkins
      <http://sundaygazettemail.com/section/Today/2005043022> mourned

      photo by M.K. McFarland
      Alen Purcell (left) and Bob Adkins, both of Big Ugly, reminisce with
      Jesco White (right) about their friend, musician Hasil Adkins, outside
      the Danville funeral home where Adkins' funeral was held on Saturday.
      M.K. McFa

      May 01, 2005

      Hasil Adkins mourned
      * Family, friends, performers remember rockabilly legend

      By Rick <http://sundaygazettemail.com/displayEmailContact.php?rid=21>
      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
      "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.'"
      Adkins' songs ran the gamut, from light-hearted tongue-twisters like
      "Punchy Wunchy Wickey Wackey Woo" to "I'm Gonna Have Me a Yard Sale" and
      "Song of Death." An entire album, "Poultry in Motion," is dedicated to
      15 Adkins songs with the word "chicken" in the title, including "Chicken
      Hop" and "Chicken Flop."
      On his recordings, he often accompanied himself simultaneously on drums
      and harmonica, as well as guitar.
      While Adkins will probably remain best known for his wild rockabilly
      style, "a lot of people don't know how accomplished a country performer
      he was," Smith said. "He was an amazing guy."
      "I still can't believe that he's gone," said Jesco White, a fellow Boone
      countian who achieved cult status of his own following the 1991 release
      of the documentary "Dancing Outlaw."
      "He was a tough old booger, I'll tell you that," White said, "but
      everyone loved him, and he brought laughter to a million people. He
      played music for my daddy when he danced, and I worked with him at a few
      beer joints and places, too."
      "He was a homeboy friend of mine," said retired Boone County Sheriff's
      deputy Bob Adkins. "I'd sit on the tailgate and play with him from time
      to time over the years. He had a unique, one-of-a-kind style that people
      seemed to go for. Sometimes the juice helps you play better and
      sometimes it tears you down, and he's been through both."
      Adkins, no relation to the performer, said Hasil showed no signs of his
      musical creativity slowing down.
      "Just last week he called up on the phone and played a song he had just
      written, and wanted to know what I thought of it," he said.
      "He said he didn't start out in all this just to quit," said Jimmy
      "Clate" Cooper, a fellow Boone County musician and friend.
      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."
      Adkins also was set to appear next year in an independent horror movie
      with the working title "Zombie Hollow," Smith said.
      On Adkins' Web site, expressions of loss were posted from fans in
      Iceland, Finland and Germany, as well as Oklahoma, California, Kentucky
      and West Virginia.
      To contact staff writer Rick Steelhammer, use e-mail or call 348-5169.

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