Honeydripper (1946); Jonathan Green's "The Hawk" (1930s)

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Thu Feb 10 23:07:39 UTC 2005

On Feb 10, 2005, at 4:33 PM, George Thompson wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Honeydripper (1946); Jonathan Green's "The Hawk"
> (1930s)
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> The nickname of Roosevelt Sykes (b. 1906) was the Honeydripper.  The
> entries in the New Grove Dict. of Amer. Music and the The encyclopedia
> of popular music, compiled & edited by Colin Larkin, 3rd ed, 1998 don't
> indicate when he took the name, but there's a pretty good chance that
> it would be before the mid-40s.

FWIW, Roosevelt Sykes fronted a group called "The Honeydrippers" in
1943, so it can be inferred that Sykes was using the name before that
date. Nevertheless, his 1945 recording of "The Honeydripper," was only
a cover of the original recording with that title by Joe Liggins. That
is, it was Joe Liggins who made the term, "Honeydripper," famous,
regardless of Sykes's earlier use of the term. The situation mirrors a
more recent incident. Hank Ballard wrote the song, "The Twist," and
originally recorded it with his group, The Midnighters. But it was
Chubby Checker's cover that made the twist an international phenomenon.

-Wilson Gray

> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Bapopik at AOL.COM
> Date: Thursday, February 10, 2005 12:40 pm
> Subject: Honeydripper (1946); Jonathan Green's "The Hawk" (1930s)
>> HDAS? A cartoon in DOWN BEAT, 14 January 1946, pg. 10, col. 3, has
>> someone shouting "Honeydripper!" to an orchestra.
>> JONATHAN GREEN'S "THE HAWK"--The Cassell Dictionary of Slang has
>> "1930s+" for "hawk" and "Hawkins." This would rule out Coleman
>> Hawkins and Erskine Hawkins, as I've said. Cites?

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