Feb. 4. 2001 — -- With bones up his nose, a vampire cape, and a cigarette-smoking toy skull named "Henry," Screamin' Jay Hawkins put the cool in ghoul.
Now, the legendary blues man and womanizer is being celebrated posthumously in a way only he could have appreciated: His illegitimate children — and he claimed to have more than 50 of them — are getting together to throw him a party.
Call it the Screamin' Jay Hawkins Illegitimate Family Reunion. At least 12 of his offspring are coming to Los Angeles — making pilgrimages from as far away as Paris, Cleveland and Honolulu — to celebrate the bizarre showman Feb. 12 at L.A.'s House of Blues.
Love Children Galore
Hawkins, best known for the hit "I Put a Spell on You," died in Paris last February of multiple organ failure — a condition presumably not related to supporting his prodigious extended family. His was a storied life of stage antics and skirt chasing. One girlfriend even stabbed him in the back when she found he was cheating on her.
But that episode occurred some 40 years ago, and the Cleveland native lived to the ripe old age of 70, singing, dancing and dressing like a ghoul, right up to the very end.
"He led a fast life, a hard life — and he said without exaggerating that he had 57 children," said his friend Maral Nigolian, a banker and film producer who is working on the singer's life story.
"He wasn't boasting," she said. "He was just sad that he didn't get to know many of the people who should have been more present in his life."