Was (Not Was) 'Walk the Dinosaur' singer Hillard ‘Sweet Pea’ Atkinson has died, aged 74

7 May 2020, 10:40

Hillard Sweet Pea Atkinson
Hillard Sweet Pea Atkinson. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Singer and Was (Not Was) member Hillard ‘Sweet Pea’ Atkinson has died at the age of 74, after having a heart attack.

Billboard reports that Atkinson died on Tuesday (May 5) at his home in Los Angeles.

Guitarist Randy Jacobs, who worked with Atkinson in Was (Not Was) and other bands, told Billboard that Atkinson was a “one of a kind”.

“He had that aura. He could walk on stage and win everybody over, without singing a note… because he’s Sweet Pea. I saw him do that so many times. And then once he sings… forget about it.”

Atkinson was best known for his vocals in Was (Not Was), who formed in Detroit in 1979 and scored hits with ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ and ‘Shake Your Head (Go To Bed)’.

Was Not Was - Walk The Dinosaur

Don Was said he was “the most flamboyant character I ever met," and that he “had the voice I always wished I had”.

“When I was writing songs, I was always writing with him in mind,” he added.

Atkinson also recorded two solo albums, 1982’s Don’t Walk Away and 2017’s Get What You Deserve.

He also worked with the likes of Bob Dylan, Elton John, Iggy Pop, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne and Kris Kristofferson.