Hasil Adkins - "The Haze" - is a legendary one-man band from Boone County, West Virginia. Citing influence from his heroes Hank Williams, Little Richard and Jimmie Rodgers, The Haze infused rock and roll, country, blues and jazz into his own genre of "psychobilly." His sound was as frantic as his personality, and his songs were funny, sad and crude - touching on subjects such as sex, hot dogs and chickens. His songs have been covered by the likes of The Cramps and the cover design of his 1990 album Peanut Butter Rock and Roll was hijacked by Social Distortion 1992's Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell. The man is a legend, and often unknown in his home state of West Virginia.
In 1993, Hasil Adkins was the subject of Julien Nitzberg's short-subject documentary The Wild World of Hasil Adkins, which was distributed by Appalshop, a media arts center in Whitesburg, Kentucky). The film takes a look at Hasil's life in West Virginia, his career as a performer and songwriter and the influence he has had on American music. It is full of fun and unfortunate stories and great interviews with rock critics, musicians, friends and family. It is well worth the watch, and is available in full in three parts below.
* Note: Nitzberg recently directed The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia about Jesco White and family - a documentary that was produced by Johnny Knoxville and Mtv. But Adkins is not Jesco White (the two were neighbors and friends). Adkins is a man known and respected for his musical genius - not just his reckless persona. Adkins wrote and performed quality songs, but Jesco is merely a repugnant identity of white poverty, substance abuse and violent behavior. If Jesco White was respected and admired for his dancing, it would be different. Jesco White, his family and any attention they receive without any effort to progress through their number of problems only placates the otherness that the people of Appalachia suffer. It's a shame. Hasil Adkins is an artist, and to be respected for that.