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Touson Weekly


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Sept. 30, 2003: Rockabilly singer Ronnie Dawson, 64, known as the Blonde Bomber, died of cancer late Tuesday afternoon.

Dawson, a wild man on the stage, had been sick for several years, though continued for perform.

Dawson was born in Dallas Aug. 11, 1939; raised as an only child in Waxahachie, Texas by Pinky and Gladys Dawson. Pinky had a swing band that was heard on Dallas' KRLD-AM radio. Realizing how much Ronnie liked music, Pinky borrowed a guitar and taught him the basics. Soon after, Ronnie formed his own band, "Ronnie Dee & The D Men," and within two months entered the talent contest at the Big D Jamboree in Dallas.

He won 10 weeks in a row and Ed MacLemore, who at the time was Gene Vincent's manager, signed the band. Dawson's first single, "Action Packed" was on Backbeat Records followed by "Rockin' Bones," which came out on MacLemore's "Rockin'" label with the new moniker "he Blonde Bomber - Ronnie Dawson."

Both singles sold respectably in regional markets and in Texas, but it wasn't until Dick Clark called to offer a recording deal with his Swan Records label along with an appearance on American Bandstand, that Dawson's career appeared to be set.

Then the Payola scandal hit, dragging Clark and other prominent DJs into extensive legal battles and leaving Dawson without a record or much of a career. In the interim, he toured with the Lightcrust Doughboys, played drums on recording sessions for Paul and Paula's "Hey Paula" and Bruce Channel's "Hey Baby", as well as later releasing tracks for Columbia Records under the names "Snake Munroe" and "Commonwealth Jones."

Throughout the '60s, Dawson performed with a Dallas based group called "The Levee Singers", touring nationally and appearing on TV on "The Danny Kaye Show," "The Jimmy Dean Show," "Hootenanny," and "Hollywood Palace."

During the '70s and '80s he formed a country-rock band called "Steelrail."

In 1986, Dawson received a call from British record collector Barney Koumis telling him that some of his old recordings had become legendary and were collectors items in England and asking if he had any other material that he might be willing to release on Koumis' indie label, No Hit Records.

Subsequently, No Hit put out "Rockin' Bones", a compilation album of early hits, followed by "Monkey Beat" and "Rockinitis", and "Just Rockin' and Rollin'", all three recorded in England and issued in the US.

1998 proved to be a landmark year for Ronnie. On Jan.16th and 17th in Austin, Dawson's first ever live recording was made - 'Live! At the Continental Club" on Continental Records and was released that year. His recording of "Yum, Yum, Yum" (Rockinitis/Crystal Clear Sound) was featured in Mike Nichols' movie "Primary Colors" starring John Travolta in 1998.

A new recording, "More Bad Habits", was completed in Maine in October 1998 (his first recording in the US since the 1960's) and was released on March 16, 1999 on Yep Roc Records and distributed by RedEye Music in the US and vinyl by NoHit Records in England.

Dawson continued playing concerts and festivals even after he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

- Jeffrey B. Remz, Editor & Publisher

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