John Hawken Passed Away

The great John Hawken died on May 15th at the age of 84, a humble person with immense talents so appreciated by those in the know. Yes, it takes a true aficionado to cherish his mastery of piano, as John’s surname may seem like a mystery to many until an array of ensembles Hawk played with is evoked. He worked with, to name but a few, THE NASHVILLE TEENS, SPOOKY TOOTH and STRAWBS, yet will be always associated first and foremost for his stint with RENAISSANCE that, without John’s classical passages which created a template for the band on their first two platters, would have sounded completely different, and its reincarnation as ILLUSION.

There might have been a significant distance between TEENS’s “Tobacco Road” and RENAISSANCE’s “Island” but there’s no mistaking Hawken’s ivories on both of these pieces, as well on “Yobo” by THIRD WORLD WAR he was a member of or on “The River Song” by Claire Hamill, one of Hawken’s sessions, while it’s ILLUSION’s “Beautiful Country” that, perhaps, remains the best example of his skills as a composer and performer. Capable of accompanying Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins in the Sixties and fuel Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer’s powerhouse in VINEGAR JOE in the Seventies, John slowed down and spent next two decades in retirement before rejoining RENAISSANCE ILLUSION for "Through The Fire" and STRAWBS for a couple more records, and helped his old friend Jim McCarty onstage and in the studio, on the "Walking In The Wild Land" album, Dave Cousins’ group’s 50th anniversary show being Hawk’s last public appearance.

He preferred to drawing to touring, especially after diagnosed with melanoma, and died as quietly as he lived – to be fondly remembered and sorely missed.

May 17, 2024

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