Leslie Hawkins

Leslie Hawkins

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Leslie Hawkins is an American backup vocalist, best known as a backing vocalist with Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Early career and Lynyrd Skynyrd

Hawkins was a studio session singer, who worked with several bands and musicians including Wet Willie, Billy Joe Royal and members of the Classics IV.

In December 1975, she was hired, along with Cassie Gaines and JoJo Billingsley to be backup singers for Lynyrd Skynyrd. The group's leader Ronnie Van Zant dubbed them The Honkettes.

Plane crash and later career

In the October 20, 1977 airplane crash that killed several members of the band and road crew left Hawkins in critical condition.[1] She suffered severe facial lacerations that resulted in extensive and ongoing reconstructive surgery. She also broke her neck in three places and was partially paralyzed. She spent several years in physical therapy, regaining her motor function but still having some permanent neurological damage.

After her recovery, for a short time was a lead singer for Jackson Deville and toured briefly with Molly Hatchet in 1996. However, she has never fully recovered from her injuries and remains largely retired.

In 2005, she performed several times as "The Honkettes" in an "alternative version of Lynyrd Skynyrd" called "The Saturday Night Special Band" that also included former Skynyrd members Ed King, Artimus Pyle and JoJo Billingsley that helped to raise money for Katrina victims.

On March 13, 2006, Leslie Hawkins and JoJo Billingsley performed with Lynyrd Skynyrd for only the third time since the 1977 plane crash. The first being the videotaped performance at Charlie Daniels' 1979 Volunteer Jam (shown in the VH-1 Behind The Music profile on Skynyrd), at the opening of Freebird The Movie at Atlanta's Fox Theatre in 1995, and singing "Sweet Home Alabama" at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at which Skynyrd was honored.


  1. It made news today..., Daily Record, UPI, 22 October 1977, p. 1. URL accessed on 30 November 2010.
This page was last modified 12.03.2011 08:25:19

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