Hawkshaw Hawkins (December 22, 1921-March 5, 1963) gained fame as one of West Virginia’s best known country musicians. Born Harold Franklin Hawkins in Huntington, Hawkins got his start in music when he traded five trapped rabbits for his first guitar. He obtained his early entertainment experience with traveling shows and on radio at WSAZ Huntington and WCHS Charleston. During World War II, he appeared on WTUM Manila. He performed summer shows using trained horse acts and rope tricks.
From 1946 to 1954, ‘‘Hawk’’ worked on the Wheeling Jamboree, broadcast from WWVA. He then went to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry for the rest of his life, except for a brief stint at the Ozark Jubilee in 1955. From 1946 to 1953, Hawkins recorded on King and hit the charts with five top-ten records. He then recorded for RCA Victor and Columbia. In 1962, he returned to King and recorded the hit ‘‘Lonesome 7-7203,’’ but did not live to see it reach the top. Hawkins, Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, and Randy Hughes died in a plane crash returning from a benefit concert. In 2009, he was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.
Written by Abby Gail Goodnite
Tribe, Ivan M. Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.