Screamin' Jay Hawkins, 70, a renowned American blues singer and pianist, died Feb. 12 at a hospital in Neuilly, a suburb west of Paris, after surgery for an aneurysm.

He was born Jalacy Hawkins in Cleveland.

He was best known for his song "I Put a Spell On You," which he recorded on the Okeh label in 1956.

The tune was originally a ballad, but after a night of heavy drinking he recorded it screaming, yelling and groaning -- and never looked back.

Some of his groans had to be edited out so that "I Put a Spell On You" could be played on the radio.

Mr. Hawkins once said the song, written to woo back a girlfriend, was banned by some radio stations because it supposedly sounded cannibalistic.

He went on to use the same demented style again and again. An outrageous performer, he used bizarre stage props, often emerging out of coffins during shows. His constant on-stage companion was a flaming skull named Henry.

Mr. Hawkins got his first break in 1951 as a pianist-valet to veteran jazz guitarist Tiny Grimes. His recording debut was in 1952 with "Why Did You Waste My Time," backed by Grimes and his Rockin' Highlanders.

In the 1960s, Mr. Hawkins recorded the hits "Alligator Wine," "Feast of the Mau Mau" and "I Hear Voices." In more recent years, he appeared in the films "Mystery Train" and "A Rage in Harlem."