1937-2005, Boone County
With a reckless and self-styled approach to his music and his life, Boone County’s Hasil Adkins embodied the “wild and wonderful” spirit of West Virginia. The youngest of 10 children, he grew up in a tar paper shack on property rented from a coal company and reportedly attended a total of six days of school. Adkins began recording as a “one-man band” in the mid-’50s, most often singing and playing guitar and drums at the same time.
With the roguish aura of a hillbilly James Dean and songs like “She Said,” “Chicken Walk” and “No More Hotdogs,” he pioneered a genre that would be dubbed “psychobilly.” When Billy Miller, owner of New York’s Norton Records, began re-releasing his early singles and issuing new recordings, Adkins became a cult figure with fans all over the world.
Adkins also appeared in several movies, documentaries and television shows, including Asia Argento’s 2004 film, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, and was the subject of Julien Nitzberg’s documentary The Wild World of Hasil Adkins. Among his fans are Mike Judge and the bands The Cramps and Southern Culture on the Skids.
On April 25, 2005, Adkins was found dead in his home at age 68, the result of injuries sustained when he was run over in his front yard by a teenager on an ATV.