Ron Haffkine, a Grammy-winning record producer and manager known for his work with Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, has died. He was 84.
Haffkine died Sunday at his home in Mexico after a brief bout with leukemia and kidney failure, his friend of 50 years, music executive Joel Diamond, told The Music news.
“Ron always had an uncanny knack of hearing a hit song in its rawest stage and the rare talent to couple it with the best musicians and then top it off with a meticulous performance by the artist,” Diamond noted.
Haffkine was instrumental in getting Dr. Hook signed by Clive Davis at Columbia Records in the 1970s, and the band led by Dennis Locorriere, George Cummings, the eyepatch-wearing Ray Sawyer and Billy Francis would compile a string of hits that included “Sylvia’s Mother,” “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” “Sharing the Night Together,” “When You’re in Love With a Beautiful Woman,” “Sexy Eyes,” “Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk” and “A Little Bit More.”
Haffkine produced 10 Dr. Hook studio albums and two live albums and worked with the likes of Waylon Jennings, Lou Rawls, Mac Davis and Helen Reddy, too.
Haffkine also often collaborated with singer, songwriter and poet Shel Silverstein. He won a Grammy Award in 1985 for producing Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and received another Grammy nom two years later for his work on another Silverstein children’s album, “A Light in the Attic.”
Born in New York on Dec. 13, 1938, Haffkine contracted polio when he was 12, leaving him paralyzed for two years. Later, he and Silverstein became friends in Greenwich Village.
Silverstein asked him to produce music he had written for the films Ned Kelly (1970), starring Mick Jagger, and Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971), starring Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Harris.
Haffkine recommended that Dr. Hook be used in Harry Kellerman, but for that to happen, the New Jersey band had to have a record deal. After the musicians did an impromptu live showcase in Davis’ office and were signed, Dr. Hook performed the Silverstein-written songs “Bunky and Lucille” and “Last Morning” in the movie.
Haffkine also produced Silverstein’s 1972 music comedy album Freakin’ at the Freakers’ Ball, with Dr. Hook handling the title track, and recorded the quirky Silverstein song “Do You Want to Boogie or Do You Don’t” that year as well.
Haffkine and his wife of 37 years, Sydney, moved to Mexico several years ago. She survives him.