It was with great sadness that I learned yesterday of Ronnie Hawkins' passing. I had the good fortune to record and mix an album with Ronnie and his band in the mid 80's, at the Metalworks Studio in Mississauga. I had of course, heard of Ronnie and his ability to spot great young musicians and how he helped many of them achieve stardom, following stints in his backup bands. This time was no exception as Ronnie had a very talented group of musicians assist him in the recording studio and we did, myself included, have a great time putting his tunes "on wax." After the work was done for the day, Ronnie would come into the control room, and relaxing over a few libations would regale the studio crew and whatever friends and musicians had decided to hang out for a while, with many stories of his life on the road, and his crazy adventures and shenanigans, whether with movie stars, other rock n' rollers and even Miss Canada....Half of them couldn't be repeated without lawsuits, so let's just say he led a very interesting, full life.
I remember one session near the end of the recording side of things where Ronnie enlisted about 30 friends and acquaintances to come to the studio and sing on one of his more rocking tunes, and he dubbed them the "Moron Tabernacle" choir.....all in good fun of course. This choir included such well known names such as Eddie Shack, Rick Danko, Paul Rimstead, Patti Janetta, Robin Hawkins (Ronnie's son), Stan Szelest, Shawne Jackson, Colina Phillips and many more. We ran through the tune once or twice for rehearsals and then it was "showtime." You would never know it from the final version of the song that showed up on the album, but with all the beer, smoke and craziness that went on for 3 hours or so while recording these tracks with this group, I think they really did live up to the name "Moron Tabernacle Choir." A cherished memory of mine . Thank you Ronnie, it was a true highlight of my career to have been a small part of your music and legend!