LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Hillard “Sweet Pea” Atkinson, one of the vocalist for the pop-funk band Was (Not Was) whose hits included “Walk the Dinosaur” and “Spy in the House of Love” has died. He was 74.
Atkinson died in Los Angeles on May 5th after suffering a heart attack according to an obituary published by the Sun Chronicle.
Atkinson was performing with a local ban din Detroit when he met Was (Not Was) founder Don Was and was recruited as a co lead singer for the group.
He recorded with the band, which blended elements of funk, disco and rock, through the 1980s and early 1990s, providing lead vocals on tracks such as “Where Did Your Heart Go?”, “It’s an Attack”, “Go…Now!” and “Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball).”
He also recorded as a solo artist, releasing a pair of albums and teamed up with Was (Not Was) session guitarist Randy Jacobs to launch the side project Boneshakers.
As well, he toured with a host of other artists, including Bonnie Raitt, the late, great George Jones, Elton John, Brian Wilson, Iggy Pop, and spent a decade on the road with Lyle Lovett.
“He was the most flamboyant character I ever met. It was three in the morning and we walked out into the hallway and he’s wearing this orange ensemble — hat, shirt, socks and shoes all matched the exact same shade of orange. Coming out of that dark control room, it looked like he was on fire. He was pretty lit, and talking a mile a minute, and it was hysterical. He had the most incredible stories,” Don Was told the Sun Chronicle about his former colleague.
Atkinson performing at an All-Star Detroit Revue in 2018