I've been working on this week's cover story since last October. It's about a venue on the west side whose lead developer is a convicted sex offender. The venue, The Rail Event Center, has caused consternation both for some of its neighbors and, apparently, for some of its competitors too.---
While I was researching the story, I was particularly struck by how difficult it is for sex offenders to escape their past crimes. It reminded me of a wonderful country-blues singer called Ted Hawkins who could often be found busking on Venice Beach. A UK radio producer called Andy Kershaw brought Hawkins to London, where his eloquently simple style, which drew much on Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield, gained rave reviews.
Hawkins, however, went back to the U.S. At the time he returned, there were allegations of pedophile-related crimes. He'd done time in U.S. prisons, although, other than three years for stealing a leather jacket, I'm not sure what his crimes were. Amazon.com cites child molestation and indecent exposure. He died shortly after his break-through Geffen-produced album, 'The Next Hundred Years,' was released in 1994.
His honeyed, emotion-soaked voice on songs like 'Happy Hour' was never quite the same for me after the revelations broke in the U.K. about Hawkins' criminal past. And yet, there's never been a performer quite as magical as Hawkins, whom I saw play live in London way back when. He could draw you into a song about drinkin' and cheatin' quite unlike any other.