Dale Hawkins: Legends Like Lionel Trains, too!


Dale Hawkins always said,  “Everything is going to work out just the way it’s suppose to!”
This is … A LIGHT STORY about LITTLE TRAINS … BIG LEGENDS … (LIONEL trains, Steven Spielberg and BB KING) …
“ALL ABOARD!” … doin’ it the Dale Hawkins way … we shout out … down-home style … Enjoy the trip. Dale did. 
Dale Hawkins always said,  “Everything is going to work out just the way it’s suppose to!”

First off … HOW DALE AND DENNIS MET. It was right onstage … at the rehearsal for this Cleveland concert. It happened when HEADLINER HAWKINS came out from the wings … that backup musician Dennis stopped playing. He exclaim out loud … how much he loved “that La-Do-Da-Da song”. He was referring to when he first heard Hawkins’ hit record. It was back during Dennis’ high school days.

From that first meeting of the minds … whenever dear Dale called … for Dennis to do musical duty … Den went and served gladly. DALE HAWKINS CANTERBURY BILLBOARD FB A 1

So now a little more set up to this story … about Dale and his kind ways. The above photo shows how Dale “SUSIE-Q” Hawkins always responded with such VERVE to the music being made. (In this case by musical director Dennis’ solo on “MY BABE”). That’s the way Dale did all things … with verve. Dale’s dear friend the late, great bluesman WILLIE DIXON wrote that song; but I would venture to say … few performed it with such passion, like “the Hawk”. The rockabilly legend had many other hit songs. But, again … the one titled, “La-Do-DaDa”… had special meaning from the high school days of another person. That person was Steven Spielberg. Turns out Dale got to learn how special it was to the legendary film maker. How it happened follows …

The story behind the Spielberg meeting: Dale began to tell us when he telephoned us … just after the two had met (down in Nashville). But, he was so excited … we could hardly decipher that-deep-Southern-drawl-of-Dale’s. So he stopped, took a deep breath and began again … slowing down his drawl to tell us … “OK, let me tell you … in Yankee”. Turns out Spielberg wanted to meet Dale. To thank the Rockabilly legend for “my most favorite song from my high school years … ‘La-Do-Dada’!” That meeting came about because some caring creative-types made it happen for “the Hawk”. Earlier that evening, a mutual recording executive friend of Spielberg’s and Hawkins called Dale to have him … “Please come to Nashville (from Dale’s home in Little Rock, Arkansas) … for a surprise”. When he arrived, Dale was placed in one studio. He said he waited so long that he got impatient and almost left. But, his friend caught him and brought in … from another studio “a big fan who wants to meet the great Dale Hawkins”. It was the great Steven Spielberg. As they were being introduced to one another … Dale said he was impressed how soft-spoken and mild-mannered the movie maker was. Then … Wham … with robust enthusiasm … S.S. told Dale the same thing that Dennis told him. (that above-mentioned quote … about Dale’s song being his most favorite song from his high school years?) Steven Spielberg proceeded to also say how he felt Dale’s song still found such favor … after all these years. 

When Dale first called us … he started to say, “Spielberg said about his song, ‘La-Do-DaDa’… the SAME THING…THE SAME WAY Dennis did” (upon THEIR first meeting at the above mentioned Cleveland concert when the two were “playing the Palace”). In turn, Dennis told Dale that proves … what a gift his song was … still is … and that as its writer … Dale should feel proud. It withstood the test of time and memory, too. What a Blessing for any songwriter. But Dale was special and so was his music. We were so happy for him. 

So about those down-home-Dale-ways … Oftentimes “the Hawk”, looking out for ‘ta other … yet wanting to TOP any tale (sorta like doin’ the dozens) … put a tag on the Spielberg story. In his self-deprecating way … he turned attention to the other person, in this case … Dennis (who was still on the other end of our landline). Dale gave a varied, “See, Dennis you could say … you and Steven Spielberg think along the same lines!” (Well, at least ’bout lovin’ that song of Dale’s!)

In response to Dale’s kind, “Great-minds-think-along-the-same-lines” comment, Dennis said, “Well, alright”… and then thought Dale might like to hear how another friend of theirs … enjoyed meeting STEVEN SPIELBERG, too. He was referring to BB King (or Poppa BB, as we lovingly sometimes referred to him). So Den shared what BB told us about getting to see Spielberg’s electric trains. It happened after BB finished playing the Universal Amphitheatre that Steven Spielberg invited him to play … with his trains. (BB being ever the playful albeit BIG kid himself had to feel like a little kid … going out after school). There they went to that famous Spielberg “Bungalow on the Back Lot”. BB said he just loved the whole experience. What a host he was. “The host with the mostest”.

But, BB King … being the consummate Southern gentleman … always tried to relate to the other peerson, too. So he said to Steven Spielberg, “Oh, my friend, Dennis Chandler has electric trains. But, I can’t quite recall what kind … but, they look to be … the same”. Well, they are the same … Lionel … and they are from the same era … called “Post War” … (as in SS & DC’s childhood years).

Great minds think along the same lines … train lines, that is. Like these other favorite film guys.  (The Great Three Stooges) TRAIN COLLAGE THREE STOOGES CHRISTMAS GIFT FIGHTINGClose… but no cigar… please. (The Great Lou Costello and daughter) TRAIN LOU COSTELLO crop
Back to about that telephone call:  We also shared with Dale about reading many articles about what first motivated Steven Spielberg to make movies. He said it was because of a couple of childhood gifts:  a LIONEL electric train and a SUPER 8mm movie camera. In interviews SS often addresses how “the movie making” started for him … by filming the crashing of his trains … his LIONEL trains. So that’s when the train bug bit Spielberg. (But, about when the train bug bit Chandler … that’s another story for another time…  Here’s a teaser…

Dale Hawkins loved hearing those Spielberg stories. Of course, that Southern-gentleman-drawl-of-Dale’s came out … with a string of “shoulda, woulda, couldas”. He said, “Oh, I wished I woulda known … I shoulda told Steven …. we coulda talked more … ’bout us all knowing BB, too!” “Oh, and that those trains of yours ARE the LIONEL kind”.

Timing. But, then we recall what we wrote above … that Dale always said, “Everything is going to work out just the way it’s suppose to”.
Perhaps that “suppose to”…  will be … as some of mutual creative-types suggest …  “Go West, young man … go West”… or … “Go, East, young man … go East”. Judging from such sincere wishes … I think everyone wants to run away with the circus … err… train, too. But, just where do we go from here … East or West … that is the question. TRAIN OBSERVATION LENNY LIONEL LION MON right

Of course, Dale Hawkins will be there in spirit … going along (as) coach, (pardon the pun). 

Thank you for being a Light, dear Dale. We still celebrate the sensational … we still celebrate Dale! 

Love, Dennis & Liz