Jesco White at Hasil Adkins funeral in Boone County
- Courtesy of Chuck Kinder.
Photos - Hasil Adkins
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.
May 01, 2005
Hasil Adkins mourned
* Family, friends, performers remember rockabilly legend
By Rick <http://sundaygazettemail.com/displayEmailContact.php?rid=21>
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
"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
"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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