Hasil “the Haze” Adkins

My home state of West Virginia has always been recognized as the well-spring of moonshine, hillbillies, coal mining, and jokes about in-breeding. But it is also the home of Hasil “the Haze” Adkins, the insane, degenerate and endlessly fascinating progenitor of horror-themed punk rock. He was discovered by the famous NYC-based Norton Records in the late 1970s and embraced by the punk rock community, but he had already been recording his songs for decades into a small cassette recorder in his one-room, tar paper shack in the heart of West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. While he claimed to have been imitating the country music he heard on the radio, especially songs by Hank Williams, his music was decidedly not country, but a bizarre mixture of crude, boiled-down blues riffs and frantic drum beats over which Hasil sang about chickens, hot dogs, aliens, and decapitations, all of which he punctuated with his trademark cackle and howl. Hasil’s music is definitely not for the weak in spirit or faint of heart, as his on-stage antics have reportedly traumatized even the more hard-core fans of G.G. Allen. But Hasil’s legacy is important because he inspired generations of garage-bands and DIY punks. And, more importantly, his music has a permanent place in the history of the horror genre. His raw, irreverent energy and predilection for the morbid and the esoteric can be heard in The Cramps, The Damned, The Meteors, The Misfits, and in just about every horror-themed band that followed him. After Julien Nitzberg’s documentary The Wild World of Hasil Adkins, an appearance on the TV show “Ghoul a Go-Go” and a cameo in Die You Zombie Bastards!, Adkins was on the verge of what could have been a comeback. But, sadly, this was not to be, as Adkins was killed in 2005 when his neighbor in West Virginia intentionally ran him down in his front yard with a four-wheeler.

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