Hasil Adkins’ early recordings sound like they were made in a backwoods shack in the hills of West Virginia. And for good reason: they were.
Adkins toiled in obscurity for decades, a one-man band of guitar, drums and a howling Appalachian growl, producing homemade reel-to-reel tapes that make Screamin’ Jay Hawkins sound refined.
Rockabilly-punk band the Cramps covered one of his songs in the early 1980s, and overnight Adkins had a cult following and a wider audience. But his propensity for wild antics grew with it. During one legendary performance, when a creaking ceiling-fan interfered with his music, Adkins pulled out a pistol and, without missing a note, shot the fan down.
Adkins entered my world today via SiriusXM Outlaw Country, a sound so striking I had to learn more. His bio on All Music Guide surely is unparalleled. It cites Adkins as “a frantic rockabilly lunatic who bashed out ultra-crude tunes about sex, chicken and decapitation.”