The Wild World Of Hasil “Haze” Adkins

In the depths of West Virginia a wild man lived amongst the hills and trailers and tar-paper shacks. Fueled by alcohol and possessing a madness born of that place, he made music. He made music about violence and hot dogs; aliens and chickens. And in 2005, not long after being run over by a teenager on an ATV, he died. His name was Hasil Adkins. Some called him Haze.

Julien Nitzberg’s 1993 documentary The Wild World Of Hasil “Haze” Adkins: One Man Band and Inventor of the Hunch is decidedly short, considering the subject matter, and yet it is fitting for a man who took claim for nine thousand songs, many of which are merely seconds long, consisting solely of bestial whoops and screams. He is, perhaps, the epitome of a “cult” musician, little known outside of certain, rigidly defined circles bound in bright lipstick and leopard print, and even then mostly known for having his name dropped by bands like The Cramps. The portrayal here is one of an amiable lunatic, a portrayal which I am unqualified to argue with, knowing as little as I do about the man. Regardless, it is impossible to ignore the dark undertones of his work, perfectly reflected in his surroundings, especially the impromptu brawl between bar patrons at one of his performances. Little doubt is left as to what had inspired him. The man wrote what he knew.

7 Responses to “The Wild World Of Hasil “Haze” Adkins”

  1. Infamous Amos Says:

    In a world where albums are being released that are auto-tuned to the point where they may aswell have been recorded by angsty robots in ironic t-shirts, we need a man like the Haze now more than ever. A true legend if there ever was one.

    In the spirit of one man band-dom, I’d like to offer up some of the successors to Hasil’s throne…

    Bloodshot Bill

    Scott H. Biram

    And my personal hero…

    Bob Log III

    “And then there’s this guy named Bob Log, you ever heard of him? He’s this little kid — nobody ever knows how old he is — wears a motorcycle helmet and he has a microphone inside of it and he puts the glass over the front so you can’t see his face, and plays slide guitar. It’s just the loudest strangest stuff you’ve ever heard. You don’t understand one word he’s saying. I like people who glue macaroni on to a piece of cardboard and paint it gold. That’s what I aspire to basically.” – Tom Waits

  2. Auralynn Says:

    A friend of The Cramps told me how Hasil stayed with them for a night and for dinner, all he wanted was cans and cans of beans, which he ate directly from the cans with his hands. Fun guy!

    For people who haven’t heard of Hasil before, I recommend “Out to Hunch” and “Poultry in Motion”, which is the only piece of music I know dedicated to only chicken.

    Another great performer (that’s still around) is the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. I think he plays shows in the Bay Area occasionally.

  3. Mer Says:

    Amen, Infamous Amos. Couldn’t have put it better myself. And I love that quote from Waits about Bob Log III and the gold macaroni. I have often considered making myself a ball gown of golden macaroni on linen as a result.

    I love the personality and music of Haze and was absolutely heartbroken when he died. Thanks for this, Ross.


  4. Professor Chaos Says:

    I love Hasil Adkins. Without Hasil, we might never have had The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Mojo Nixon, Rev. Horton Heat, etc. etc.

  5. Infamous Amos Says:

    ^^^If you ain’t got Mojo Nixon then your store could use some fixin’.

    Mer, that quote has become a bit of a mantra for me, as well. It goes way beyond Bob Log III to sum up pretty much why I love most of the stuff I love. Not coincidently, its also primarily why I love Tom Waits and this place.

    I love the naive and honestly heartfelt ignorance to all things rational that Hasil embodied with everything he did. The fact that he actually thought Hank Williams played all the instruments on his records at once, simply because his was the only name the DJ mentioned, is both slightly embarrassing and infinitely inspiring at the same time.

    Two kinds of people think that way. People who think “Shit, that’s impossible! I’ll never be able to do all that at once!”, and people who think “Shit, well, I better find a kick drum and a hi-hat and start practicing.”

  6. Sarah Les P Says:

    Thanks for sharing that.

    I had no idea who he was, even though I’d heard him before.

    He kind of reminds me of Bob Snider who may also have a song completely dedicated to chickens.

    Oh and Bloodshot Bill was featured in the doc Rockabilly 514, if you can track it down the part on his life as a one man band are pretty Gold Macaroni.

  7. Miss Jess Says:

    Hasil, Hasil, Hasil… too awesome for words. A true WV son if there ever was one..