Star Interview: Chip Hawkes

Brian Poole and Chip Hawkes
Brian Poole and Chip Hawkes

For many people, the decade of the Sixties was the undisputed golden age of music.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that those stars of this era who continue to perform today are still able to draw in the crowds.

And at Royal & Derngate there will be a chance to see many of the most popular stars of this time perform in one place. On Friday, October 25, the Northampton stage will play host to the Sixties Gold: 50th Anniversary Tour, which includes the Merseybeat band Gerry & The Pacemakers, P.J Proby and The Fortunes.

Also on stage with Brian Poole will be former star of The Tremeloes and father to Nineties golden boy Chesney Hawkes, Chip Hawkes.

Chip said: “No one has anything to prove now so we have a laugh, a lot of the old characters together, we are still at it. I think it (the Sixties) was a pioneering time when musicians did not have anything to do with agents or lawyers; they were put on the road and did live gigs. Everything was new then; The Beatles changed the shape of pop music altogether and we were right there at the time. You had to go along with it.”

Chip began his professional music career in 1962 with The Horizons and, in 1965, joined Brian Poole & The Tremeloes. Although Brian eventually left to embark on a solo career, the next six or seven years saw The Tremeloes producing worldwide hits such as Silence Is Golden, which reached the number one spot all over the world. I had read that the Decca label turned down The Beatles in favour of signing The Tremeloes and asked Chip if this was true.

He said: “Yes, we were more accessible. We were from London, they were from Liverpool, they went to EMI and the rest is history.”

Chip’s future could have been very different as he started off as a carpenter’s apprentice, during which time he earned the name Chip, short for Chippy.

He said: “I was actually named after my uncle Len and they always said I was really like him, he was the musical one of the family. Chip was a nickname.”

Remembering the Sixties, he said: “It was hard work but we were young, we went around the world and we were doing something we loved doing and getting paid for it.”

Later Chip moved his young family to America for five years when he was signed by RCA to record in Nashville, Tennessee. He did go on to reform The Tremeloes but left the band in 1988 to concentrate on the musical career of his son Chesney, who had a global hit with The One & Only.

Chip said: “Chesney was always messing about with keyboards as a child, he was always interested in the new records, he was just made for the music business.”

Following Chip’s cancer diagnosis a year ago (multiple myeloma), he now appreciates his time on stage even more.

He said: “I had a rough year and I thought it was all over for me. I had no thoughts about coming back, I was concentrating on getting better. Then I went into remission and I was offered a couple of gigs. I was offered this set and thought ‘in for a penny...’”