By Adam Gonshor
Throughout his five-decade musical career, Ronnie Hawkins has been surrounded by beautiful women. Although he jokingly credits his good looks and beautiful body for attracting the ladies, he says the secret is in his profession.
“All rock and rollers have a problem with women flocking to them. All you have to do is learn some rock and roll songs and you’ll have to wear perfume repellent to keep them away from you.”
In September, about 20 of his close friends, including Bill Clinton, came together in Toronto to celebrate his life. Some may have thought it would be the last time they would see their friend alive.
Hawkins was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given until last Christmas to live. This summer, doctors told him that there was no longer any sign of the tumour.
“The Hawk is on his way back so all you girls, get ready,” the 68-year-old said from his farm on Stoney Lake, near Peterborough. “Everything’s gone. Everything’s fixed. I’m healing up a little bit every day.”
The disappearance of the tumour was surprising to doctors since Hawkins refused chemotherapy.
“That just makes you sick. It kills good cells and bad cells. That’s a last ditch effort,” he said.
He turned to alternative medication. Herbal remedies, a mysterious concoction from a monk, even some Indian healers recommended by his former bandmate Robbie Robertson; he tried them all. He thinks the cure might have come from a teenager in Vancouver named Adam, who some say has a special gift for healing.
“I could never say yes or no about any of this stuff. I believe in the Big Rocker,” he said, referring to God.
Hawkins will be inducted into the Canadian music Industry Hall of Fame in March, with record label founder Jim West and television innovator Moses Znaimer. Hawkins said it is an honour to be recognized for his accomplishments.
“I’ve done my little thing in music, done everything I can so they’re saying that’s enough.”
Born in Arkansas, Hawkins took his rock act to Canada when he was 23. He has been playing in Canada for 46 years, winning a Juno Award and developing talent like Amy Sky and The Band along the way.
He’s not slowing down.
“I’m going to start playing with a super little rockabilly band I want to put together. And I want to play with them and do an album of all the rockabilly stuff I did in the old days. An album a year for five years and start the beginning of the tour (playing) for people in bars or wherever they let us.”
Hawkins still performs, not only because he wants to but because he has to. He once said that he is in so much debt, he has bankers getting him gigs because they don’t want anything to happen to him.