|Birth name||Hampton Barnett Hawes, Jr.|
November 13, 1928|
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Died||May 22, 1977
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Labels||Contemporary Records, Discovery, Fantasy Records|
|Associated acts||Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Jim Hall, Barney Kessell, Charles Mingus, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers|
Hawes was a heroin addict for many years, and was imprisoned in the 1950s for drug offences. He successfully applied to President Kennedy for clemency in the early 1960s and resumed playing and touring. In the 1970s he experimented with electronic instruments.
Hawes was born on November 13, 1928, in Los Angeles, California. His father, Hampton Hawes, Sr., was minister of Westminster Presbysterian Church in Los Angeles. His mother, the former Gertrude Holman, was Westminster's church pianist.
Hawes' first experience with the piano was as a toddler sitting on his mother's lap while she practiced. He was reportedly able to pick out fairly complex tunes by the age of three. Entirely self-taught, Hawes by his teens was playing with the leading jazz musicians on the West Coast, including Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers, and Teddy Edwards. His second professional job, at 19, was playing for eight months with the Howard McGhee Quintet at the Hi De Ho Club, in a group that included Charlie Parker.
After serving in the U.S. army in Japan from 1952 to 1954, Hawes formed his own trio, with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Chuck Thompson. The three-record Trio sessions made by this group in 1955 on Contemporary Records were considered some of the finest records to come out of the West Coast at the time. The next year, Hawes added guitarist Jim Hall for the All Night Sessions - three records made during a non-stop recording session at the Contemporary Studios in Los Angeles.
After a six-month national tour in 1956, Hawes won the "New Star of the Year" award in Down Beat magazine, and "Arrival of the Year" in Metronome magazine. The following year, he recorded in New York City with Charles Mingus on the album Mingus Three (Jubilee JLP 1054, 1957).
Struggling for many years with a heroin addiction, Hawes became the target of a federal undercover operation in Los Angeles in 1958. The Drug Enforcement Administration bargained that he would inform on suppliers in L.A. rather than risk a successful music career. Hawes was arrested on heroin charges on his 30th birthday, but refused to cooperate, and was sentenced to ten years in a federal prison hospital - twice the mandatory minimum. In the weeks between his trial and sentencing, he recorded an album of spirituals and gospel songs, The Sermon, for Contemporary Records.
In 1961, after serving three years at Fort Worth Federal Medical Facility in Texas, Hawes was watching President Kennedy's inaugural speech on television, when he became convinced that Kennedy would pardon him. In an almost miraculous turn, President Kennedy granted Hawes Executive Clemency in 1963, the 42nd of only 43 such pardons given in the final year of Kennedy's presidency.
After his release from prison, Hawes resumed playing and recording. During a world tour in 1967-68, he was surprised to discover that he had become a legend among jazz listeners overseas. During a ten-month tour of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, he recorded nine albums, played sold out shows and concert halls in ten countries, and was covered widely in the press, appearing on European television and radio.
Raise Up Off Me, Hawes' autobiography, written with Don Asher and published in 1974, shed light on his heroin addiction, the bebop movement, and his friendships with some of the leading jazz musicians of his time. The book won the prestigious ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for music writing in 1975. Critic Gary Giddins, who wrote the book's introduction, called Raise Up Off Me "a major contribution to the literature of jazz." The Penguin Guide to Jazz cites it as "one of the most moving memoirs ever written by a musician, and a classic of jazz writing."
In the 1970s, Hawes experimented with electronic music (Fender-Rhodes made a special instrument for him), although eventually he returned to playing the acoustic piano.
As a pianist, his style is instantly recognizable - for its almost unparalleled swing, unique approach to time and harmony, and its depth of emotional expression, particularly in a blues context. Hawes influenced a great number of prominent pianists, including André Previn, Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver, Claude Williamson, Pete Jolly, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. Hawes' own influences came from a number of sources, including the gospel music and spirituals he heard in his father's church as a child, and the boogie-woogie piano of Earl Hines. Hawes also learned much from pianists Bud Powell and Nat King Cole among others. By Hawes' own account, however, his principal source of influence was his friend Charlie Parker.
Hampton Hawes died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage in 1977, at 48 years of age. He is buried next to his father, Hampton Hawes, Sr., who had died just five months earlier, at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery. In 2004, the City Council of Los Angeles passed a resolution declaring November 13 "Hampton Hawes Day" throughout the city.
- Hampton Hawes Early Years Trio and Quartet Sessions 1951-56 (Fresh Sounds Records CD 369)
- The Hampton Hawes Memorial Album (Xanadu 161) 1952–1956
- Hampton Hawes Trio, Vol. 1 - The Trio (Contemporary C 3505; Fantasy OJC 316, OJCCD 316-2) 1955
- This Is Hampton Hawes, Vol. 2 - The Trio (Contemporary C 3515; Fantasy OJC 318, OJCCD 318-2)
- Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes, Vol. 3 - The Trio (Contemporary C 3523; Fantasy OJC 421, OJCCD 421-2)
- All Night Session!, Vol. 1-3 (1956)
- Four! (Contemporary C 3553, S 7553; Stereo S 7026; Fantasy OJC 165, OJCCD 165-2) 1957
- The Sermon (Contemporary) 1958
- For Real! (Contemporary M 3589, S 7589; Fantasy OJCCD 713-2), 1958
- The Green Leaves of Summer (Contemporary C 3614, S 7614; Fantasy OJC 476, OJCCD 476-2) 1964
- The Seance (Contemporary C 3621, S 7621; Fantasy OJC 455, OJCCD 455-2) 1966
- Blues for Bud (Black Lion (J) TKCB 30073)
- Universe (Prestige, 1972)
- Blues for Walls (Prestige, 1973)
- Playin' in the Yard (Prestige, 1973)
- Northern Windows (Prestige, 1974)
- Live at the Great American Music Hall (Concord Jazz CJ 222) 1975
- Hampton Hawes at the Piano (Contemporary S 7637) 1976 (released 1978)
- Curtis Fuller and Hampton Hawes with French Horns (Status ST 8305; Fantasy OJCCD 1942-2) 1957
- Hampton Hawes, Martial Solal - Key for Two (BYG (F) 529 125) 1968
- Northern Windows (1974, Prestige)
- At the Piano (1976, Contemporary)
- As Long as There's Music (1977, Artists House, with Charlie Haden)
- A Little Copenhagen Night Music
- Live at the Montemarte
- This Guy's in Love with You
- Bird Song (1999, Contemporary OJCCD-1035-2) (Two prev. unreleased sessions 1956, 1958)
- Art Pepper - The Early Show (1952; Xanadu Records)
- Red Mitchell - Red Mitchell (Bethlehem), 1955
- Charles Mingus - Mingus Three (Jubilee JLP 1054), 1957
- Prestige All Stars - Baritones and French Horns (Prestige PRLP 16-6) 1957
- Sonny Rollins - Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders (Contemporary C 3564, S 7564; Fantasy OJC 340, OJCCD 340-2; 1958)
- Sonny Criss - I'll Catch the Sun! (Prestige), 1969
- Sonny Stitt - So Doggone Good (Prestige), 1972
- Gene Ammons - Gene Ammons and Friends at Montreux (Prestige, 1973)
- Art Pepper - Living Legend (Contemporary S 7633), 1975 (released 1976)
- Art Farmer - On the Road (Contemporary S 7636), 1976
- Raise Up Off Me: A Portrait of Hampton Hawes by Hampton Hawes, Don Asher and Gary Giddins
- 128-page Hampton Hawes biography/discography was published in England in 1987, co-authored by Roger Hunter and Mike Davis.
- "California Birth Index, 1905-1995 [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-06.