Sweet Pea Atkinson

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Hillard "Sweet Pea" Atkinson[1] (born c. 1945) is an American R&B singer known as one of the vocalists for the band Was (Not Was).[2] In 1982, shortly after the release of the first Was (Not Was) album, he recorded and released his first solo album, Don't Walk Away.[2][3][4] The album was co-produced by Was (Not Was) members David Weiss and Donald Fagenson, also known as the Was Brothers.[5] In 1997, along with Kris Kristofferson, Atkinson starred in a 15-minute short film included on Don Was' album Forever’s a Long, Long Time, which Was released under the alias Orquestra Was.[6] Atkinson also performed as lead vocalist on most of the songs on the album, on which Was interprets songs by Hank Williams.[7][8]

Atkinson later joined forces with Blues guitarist Randy Jacobs - also a longtime Was (Not Was) session guitarist who co-wrote the band's most successful hit, "Walk the Dinosaur" - in a band called the Boneshakers; together they released three albums. Two of those were studio recordings: Book of Spells in 1997 on Point Blank Records, and Shake the Planet in 1999, also on Point Blank Records. The third album that they cut together is a live album, Live in Seattle, with the groovy female saxophonist Mindi Abair. It was released on Concord Records. Two more albums were credited to Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers: The EastWest Sessions (2017) and All I Got for Christmas Is the Blues (2018).[9][10]

Critical reception[edit]

Robert Christgau gave Don't Walk Away an A– grade, writing, "Trouper that he is, Atkinson will sing any nonsense [the Was brothers] hand him, but he obviously finds his truth in Dionne Warwick, the Tymes, General Johnson, and Eddie Rabbitt, and I'll go along with that."[4] AllMusic's William Ruhlmann gave the album 3 stars out of 5. In his review, Ruhlmann wrote that "For all intents and purposes, this is a Was (Not Was) record" and that "mostly this record has the same sarcastic undercurrent of most of Was (Not Was)'s product."[11]

Solo Discography[edit]

  • Don't Walk Away (Island, 1982)
  • Get What You Deserve (2017)[12]


  1. ^ Fusilli, Jim, (September 21, 2017). "‘Get What You Deserve’ by Sweet Pea Atkinson Review: A Tribute to the Past", Wall Street Journal.
  2. ^ a b "Was (Not Was)". Contemporary Musicians. Cengage Learning. 2004.
  3. ^ Wynn, Ron. "Sweet Pea Atkinson Biography". AllMusic.
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide: Sweet Pea Atkinson". Village Voice.
  5. ^ Pareles, Jon (15 November 1982). "Pop: Sweet Pea Atkinson". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Cheng, Kipp (18 April 1997). "Forever's a Long, Long Time". Entertainment Weekly.
  7. ^ Gill, Andy (21 March 1997). "Pop Albums: Orquestra Was Forever's a Long, Long Time Verve 314 533-915". The Independent.
  8. ^ Cromelin, Richard (23 March 1997). "What Was Was and What Was Is". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Debbage, Michael. "Album Review: The EastWest Sessions". Mostly Pino. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  10. ^ Whitemore, Laura B. (10 December 2018). "Listen Now: 20 New Music Releases to Add to Your Holiday Playlist". Parade. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  11. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Don't Walk Away Review". AllMusic.
  12. ^ "I'm Old As Dirt But I Can Still Sing: Sweet Pea Atkinson On Get What You Deserve". NPR.