Sweet Pea Atkinson

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Hillard "Sweet Pea" Atkinson[1] (born c. 1945) is an American R&B singer and former vocalist for the band Was (Not Was).[2] In 1982, after departing Was (Not Was), he released his first solo album, Don't Walk Away.[2][3][4] The album was co-produced by Was (Not Was) members David Weiss and Donald Feigenson, also known as the Was Brothers.[5] In 1997, along with Kris Kristofferson, Atkinson starred in a 15-minute short film included on Don Was' album Forever’s a Long, Long Time, which Was released under the alias Orquestra Was.[6] Atkinson also performed as lead vocalist on most of the songs on the album, on which Was interprets songs by Hank Williams.[7][8]

Atkinson also joined forces with Blues guitarist Randy Jacobs in a band called the Boneshakers; together they released three albums. Two of those were studio recordings: Book of Spells in 1997 on Point Blank Records, and Shake the Planet in 1999, also on Point Blank Records. The third album that they cut together is a live album, Live in Seattle, with the groovy female saxophonist Mindi Abair. It was released on Concord Records.

Critical reception[edit]

Robert Christgau gave Don't Walk Away an A– grade, writing, "Trouper that he is, Atkinson will sing any nonsense [the Was brothers] hand him, but he obviously finds his truth in Dionne Warwick, the Tymes, General Johnson, and Eddie Rabbitt, and I'll go along with that."[4] AllMusic's William Ruhlmann gave the album 3 stars out of 5. In his review, Ruhlmann wrote that "For all intents and purposes, this is a Was (Not Was) record" and that "mostly this record has the same sarcastic undercurrent of most of Was (Not Was)'s product."[9]


  • Don't Walk Away (Island, 1982)
  • Get What You Deserve (2017)[10]