Friday, November 18, 2011



By Doc Lawrence

Most music fans today may not be familiar with songs like “Work With Me Annie, “ and “Sexy Ways,” but in my baby days whether high school or college, these were anthems for Saturday night dances. Hank Ballard, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was banned from white radio stations during rock music’s early years. Like all mindless censorship, this only made his records more popular with listeners like me.

Hank’s band, the Midnighters, has no counterpart today. These guys could boogie all night.  They did Hank’s music, not some stranger’s. I saw him many times at Atlanta’s legendary black nightclub, The Royal Peacock, where he sang and danced his own creation, “The Twist.” Chubby Checker was a poor imitation of the real thing.

I was on my college homecoming committee and persuaded them to book Hank instead of The Glenn Miller Orchestra, assuring them that the Midnighters were family entertainment.

FSU tossed around the idea of expelling me.

Long gone now, Hank Ballard would be 83 today. I became a musician in college, played in a good band, making a little walk around money and dated pretty girls. Deep inside, I know I got the rhythm and swagger from Hank. These are precious memories today, and I still play “Annie Had A Baby,” when I have weekend cocktails. I think of him and his magnificent live performances and just feel good all over.

Happy Birthday, Hank! From me and millions of grateful fans.


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