Ronnie Dawson – Rockin’ Bones

I’m always looking for more rockabilly artists that I haven’t heard.  This one came from Phil from…Notes from the Cactus Patch.

I started to listen to his music and it was good…vocals, guitar, everything. The rhythm to this song is worth a listen.

Ronnie appeared on American Bandstand twice and later in the 1990s… twice on the Conan O’Brien show. He had regional success but even after Bandstand in 1960 could not break nationally.

He was from Dallas Texas and was nicknamed “The Blonde Bomber.” His father Pinkie showed him how to play the mandolin, drums, and bass guitar. Dawson attended Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahachie but was expelled. After that, he appeared regularly on the Big D Jamboree Radio Show in Dallas in 1958 as Ronnie Dee and the D Men.  Dawson was known to be highly energetic on stage. Many thought he got it from Elvis but he said no, he learned it from the dynamic Pentecostal revivals he attended.

The Jack Rhodes song “Action Packed” was Dawson’s first release in 1958 on the Backbeat label. After that came the 1959 Rockin’ Bones and this time it was on the Rockin’ Records label. It was issued under Ronnie’s own name with “The Blond Bomber” added. Though Ronnie toured nationally with Gene Vincent and appeared on TV, his records gained no more than regional airplay.

He also played off and on with The Light Crust Doughboys who are a Western Swing Band and Ronnie became a good country artist. You talk about longevity? The Light Crust Doughboys have been playing since 1931…they just celebrated their 90th anniversary as different versions have played through the years.

He made several singles in the early sixties with Dick Clark’s Swan Records. He also did some session work. He played on Paul & Paula’s “Hey Paula. After Elvis died rockabilly started to make a comeback. The Cramps covered Rockin’ Bones.

In the 1980s Ronnie was just beginning. A fifties revival was happening in the UK and he became popular there. This led Dawson to tour Britain for the first time in 1986. He was blown away by the audience’s reception. Dawson sounded purer than most of his peers from the 1950s and he put on a more energetic show.

He recorded new material for No Hit Records, the label of British rockabilly fan Barry Koumis, which was leased in the USA to Crystal Clear Records. No Hit Records also reissued his recordings from the 1950s and early 1960s on a 16-track LP called “Rockin’ Bones” and an extended 2-CD version of which was released by Crystal Clear in 1996.

Ronnie Dawson:  “At that point in my life, I was so ready to get out of Dallas. I was really ready to go, and I just blew up when I got over there. … I couldn’t believe it. All these people started embracing me. I was in heaven. I didn’t want to go home.”

He was inducted into Rockabilly Hall of Fame, 1998.

Ronnie was still performing until the early 2000s when health problems started.  He passed away in Dallas on September 30, 2003, at the age of 64.

Rockin’ Bones

Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
Rockin’ bones
I wanna leave a happy memory when I go
I wanna leave something to let the whole world know
That the rock in roll daddy has a done passed on
But my bones will keep a-rockin’ long after I’ve gone

Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
Rockin’ bones

Well, when I die don’t you bury me at all
Just nail my bones up on the wall
Beneath these bones let these words be seen
This is the b***** gears of a boppin’ machine

Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
Rockin’ bones
I ain’t a worried about tomorrow, just a-thinkin’ ’bout tonight
My bones are gettin’ restless, gonna do it up right
A few more times around the hardwood floor
Before we turn off the lights and close the door

Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
Rockin’ bones


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “Ronnie Dawson – Rockin’ Bones”

  1. Great tune! I suspect his relative lack of success in the late ’50s may have had to do with his high, almost child-like vocals. I don’t recall having heard any other rockabilly artist who sang like Ronnie Dawson. Add to this his “very blond” hair and you had an artist who was clearly different from the likes of Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent or Elvis.

    Of course, all of the aforementioned reasons to “reject” an artist are stupid, but I think it’s safe to assume many people back then were very narrow-minded. Some still are to this day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the guitar in it a lot. I’m glad he found a larger audience in the 80s and 90s. That had to feel good after all of those years. He did about everything… You can tell the guy loved music…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Max. Thanks for honoring Ronnie. I first met him when I was a kid, and he wasn’t much more than that. He played with the Light Crust Doughboys for many years off and on and remained friends with the members until his death. My father played fiddle with them from 1955 until 1994 when he became too ill to continue playing. I’m working on a post for the LCD which will include some on Ronnie. Thanks again for your interest and great research.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for pointing me to him Phil. He could do a little bit of everything well. His session drum work suprised me. He was an all around talent.

      Your father played for almost 40 years with them…that is something. I was also surprised they are still going…which I think that is a cool thing to pass down to new generations to keep that music alive.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds good and he has that David Bowie hair and facial structure that makes a good stage presence. He looks so young in the first video! I’m glad he got the recognition and adulation he wanted when he went to England.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post and pure rockabilly to boot. Good work Max. I have all these old rockabilly compilations I should bust out. Lots of hidden gems. Phil is on top of a lot of things. His personal touch adds a real connection. Makes it real.

    Liked by 1 person

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