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So how much of that heart-stopping stuff would he actually put into his system? "Probably none of it," Dawson says with a laugh. "It's all strictly a tongue-in-cheek thing. I try to be as healthy as possible. I run ten miles a day when I'm not on the road, then I'll stretch or swim. It keeps me honest. It's become like a religion to me. It's something you do to keep yourself in tune and in good shape. I can't stand destruction -- rock and roll destruction or any kind of destruction. I'm about positivity and having fun and smiling. You don't have to smoke 50-jillion cigarettes and drink martinis all the time just to have fun.
"I've met people over the years like Gene Vincent," he continues, referring to the doomed rockabilly icon whose life and career degenerated into alcoholism and cynicism following his lone hit, 1956's "Be-Bop-A-Lula." "He had a chance and he blew it, through his lifestyle. He had a bad-boy image, but you can't live up to your image. You get carried away and start believing it and trying to live up to it, but that will just kill you. And what do you want to do, be around for a while and do this and have fun? Or do you want to be a sick old man and hate everybody? Or die young? It's just choices and decisions that you have to make."
And Dawson has decided to stay as healthy and as busy as possible, cranking out albums and doing about 125 dates per year, in punk-rock dives, retro-rockabilly clubs, and festivals across the nation and abroad. That, he says with authority, is what it's all about. "You've got to make the shows as good as you can," he says. "There are nights when things just don't work, but you pull yourself through them. And when we go out somewhere and have a really good show, that'll take us. The momentum from that will keep us going for days. There are just no words for that. You've got to have that energy, and you've got to have that energy coming back at you. It's got to be an experience, man. We don't just want a show, we want an experience."
Ronnie Dawson performs Friday, April 30, at Home, 3841 Griffin Rd, Hollywood, with opening acts the Holy Rollin' Hellfires and the Eighteen Wheelers. The show begins at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information call 954-965-0042.