Ronnie Dawson: 1939 to 2003
Any time Ronnie Dawson played the Continental Club in Austin during the 1990s was a special event. The club’s retro ambience and the Blonde Bomber’s brand of old-time rock ‘n’ roll was a perfect fit. Dawson would start by jumping off the stage with a big smile on his face. The first thing you’d notice was that he looked younger than his age, a testament to his healthy lifestyle. The lanky Texan would then stroll through the audience, his guitar attached to a very long cord. It was his way of saying, “Hey, how ya doin’? Just so you know, I’m one of you.” Then he’d rock for a couple of hours until everything was sweating, including the walls.
Those shows won’t happen anymore. Dawson passed away September 30 of throat cancer at his home in East Dallas. He was 64.
In the late 1950s, Dawson started out as Ronny D, a skinny teenager with a flattop. He rose to prominence regionally through his appearances at the Big D Jamboree, along with singles such as “Rockin’ Bones” and “I Make the Love”. His career took many turns over the years; he briefly performed as R&B artist “Snake Munroe,” touring with the Lightcrust Doughboys and later with the Levee Singers.
Dawson’s early recordings were rediscovered in the mid-’80s during the rockabilly revival, bringing him back into the spotlight. He subsequently recorded five new albums, including Monkey Beat! and Rockinitis, and appeared at Carnegie Hall and on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”.
A heartfelt tribute posted on the internet by Shaun Young of High Noon sums it up best: “The folks that knew him, talked to him, heard his records and saw his unbelievable live show know what I mean when I say, he was simply the best there ever was.”