Friday, 18 July 2014

Chas & Dave - It Gets Better All The Time : Chas Hodges Interview

Chas & Dave Today
Photo: Barry Collings
Chas & Dave are currently touring the UK and will visit Newport Riverfront tonight. I've had the pleasure of interviewing Chas Hodges twice and find Chas is a great interview subject because hes done so much in his career! 

Prior to teaming up with Dave he not only played alongside legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent but also was a member of Joe Meek's band The Outlaws and one of Cliff Bennett's Rebel Rousers. Here's an interview I originally did with Chas last year...
“It’s a nice feeling.” Chas Hodges tells me as we discuss Chas & Dave’s new tour, “At last people are realising that if you go out and see Chas & Dave you’ll have a good time.” 
The pop-rock duo consisting of Chas on piano and Dave Peacock on bass guitar, originate from the East End of London. They took the UK pop charts by storm in the early 80s with hits such as Rabbit and Ain’t No Pleasing You. They are now touring again. 
I tell Chas it’s a pleasant surprise to see them back. Their 2011 tour was regarded to be the final for the pair following the death of Dave’s wife Sue, a main driving force behind the band and prompting Dave’s decision to leave show business.   
“It was going to be our final tour, confirms Chas, “I carried on as Chas and his band. I gig every week and always will do. You never get over somebody dying but it gets a little bit easier to cope with as time goes on and Dave fancied doing another one so here we are.” 
Chas & Dave back in the 1970s
Chas & Dave had already known each other a decade when they came together as a duo in 1972, both having already experienced success in other bands. 
Chas, who learnt the piano as a boy switched to bass guitar when he began playing professionally. As well as playing for both Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent on their UK tours, Chas was also a member of the Joe Meek produced group The Outlaws and later Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers who supported The Beatles on their last European Tour. 
Chas carried on playing bass guitar until the early 70s by which time he found himself in America performing with Albert Lee and singing in an American accent.  “It came to a head, I was sort of thinking this doesn’t feel right to me,” he says. 
Chas decided it was time to return to playing piano and sing songs in his own East London accent. He then invited Dave to join him on bass, thus starting a musical partnership on the pub rock scene that over the next seven years defined their Rockney style.  
Terry Wogan favoured their recording of Billy Tyler on Radio 2 while Gertcha! and Rabbit proved successful in the charts. 
Chas & Dave scored their biggest hit in 1982 with Ain’t No Pleasing You which reached Number 2. 
They were later invited to appear on television with Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett in The Two Ronnies. “That was fantastic; they were big fans of ours,” says Chas, “When we were talking to their wives afterwards they said they’ve never invited anyone else to do anything musical with them. We did a cockney sketch with them with banjos and they were great.” 
Chas is delighted with the response from fans who attend the new shows “They sing all our songs, more than they’ve ever done. It gets better all the time.”
A version of this interview by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide  in 2013.

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