RIP: Jennell Hawkins, singer with Richard Berry + Freddie Willis

Here’s some sad news:

Jennell Hawkins (courtesy of DooWop Society)

Singer-pianist Jennell Hawkins died in Los Angeles on Friday, October 13, after a long illness following a stroke last year. She was the lead singer on the Dreamers‘ well-regarded “Since You’ve Been Gone”/”Do Not Forget” (Flip Records, 1957), and also dueted with Richard Berry (as Ricky & Jennell) on a single for Flair Records, but she’s best known for “Moments to Remember,” a small, Richard Berry-written pop hit (#50) in late 1961.

Ironically, on October 13, the day of her death, she was being honored at a“Legends of Central Avenue” celebration in Los Angeles. According to LA Weekly, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was scheduled to present certificates of recognition to Ms. Hawkins along with other past and present female jazz singers, including Etta James, Melba Liston, Esther Phillips, among others at a special ceremony at Los Angeles City Hall.

At the Southern California DooWop Society webpages, which is where I borrowed this photo of Jennell, there’s a nice little write-up about a show she did in 2002, joining her old bandmates, The Dreamers for what sounded like an awesome performance.

UPDATEJim Dawson adds:

Jennell actually had two small R&B hits, “Moments” (#16) and “Money (That’s What I Want)” (#17), both on Amazon. “Moments” was retitled “Moments to Remember” on her two albums; she redid the song in a jazzier style for her first LP, The Many Moods of Jenny, in 1961, and the single version appeared on her Moments to Remember LP a year later. Jennell was also a member of the Combo-Nettes on Combo, best known for “Hi Diddle Diddle” with Jake Porter‘s band.

Another one gone is Freddie Willis of the Calvanes, who died Monday of cancer. He joined the group in 1958 and recorded on their Deck singles. He was a member of the group during the last 16 years or so.

OUCH! On the previously mentioned Southern California DooWop Society webpage about a show with Jennell Hawkins, it notes that Freddie sang Richard Berry‘s part with the Dreamers that night.

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