Don Was Remembers Sweet Pea Atkinson, Charismatic Singer of Was (Not Was)

Sweet Pea Atkinson passed away this year at the age of 74. Don Was, one of Atkinson’s closest friends, shares stories honoring Sweet Pea’s legacy.

Hillard “Sweet Pea” Atkinson was a larger-than-life musical figure who had style, swagger, charisma and a voice that sounded the way Detroit feels.

Atkinson died of a heart attack this year at the age of 74. 

Musician, producer, and Blue Note president Don Was knew Sweet Pea for 45 years. He joined Ann Delisi on Essential Music to pay tribute to the charismatic Was (Not Was) frontman.

LISTEN: Don revisits his first time meeting Sweet Pea

LISTEN: In 1982, Sweet Pea released his debut solo album, “Get What You Deserve,” his first outside of Was, (Not Was)

LISTEN: Sweet Pea sang back up for everyone from Willie Nelson to Iggy Pop

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  • Ann Delisi
    Ann Delisi hosts Essential Music, the Essential Conversations podcast series and the Essential Cooking broadcast and podcast. Born and raised in the Motor City, Ann is a broadcaster, interviewer, producer, music host, storyteller and proud Detroiter.