Alan Hawkshaw
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Alan Hawkshaw

Alan Hawkshaw
William Alan Hawkshaw[1]
Born (1937-03-27) 27 March 1937 (age 84)
Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
GenresRock and roll
Songwriter, recording and performing artist
LabelsEMI, KPM
The Shadows, Emile Ford

William Alan Hawkshaw (born 27 March 1937) is a British composer and performer, particularly of themes for movies and television programs. Hawkshaw worked extensively for the KPM production music company in the 1960s and 1970s, composing and recording many stock tracks that have been used extensively in film and TV. His song "Charlie" is heard on Just For Laughs Gags. In 2016, he was awarded a doctorate for his contributions to the music industry.[]

As such, he is the composer of a number of familiar theme tunes including Channel 4 News, Grange Hill and Countdown. In addition, he is an arranger and pianist, and in the United States with the studio group Love De-Luxe scored a number 1 single on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart with "Here Comes That Sound Again" in 1979.

He is the father of singer-songwriter Kirsty Hawkshaw, who was a member of the dance music group Opus III from 1991 to 1995, and has also worked with artists such as Tiësto, Delerium, BT, Seba, and Paradox.


Born in Leeds, Hawkshaw worked as a printer for several years before becoming a professional musician, first joining the pop group The Crescendos. In the early 1960s, he was a member of rock and roll group Emile Ford and the Checkmates. He also formed the Mohawks band and Rumplestiltskin with some session musicians. At that time, Hawkshaw was an exponent of the Hammond organ, heard in the Mohawks' music, and also on the UK recording of the musical Hair.[2] In 1965 Hawkshaw played piano on The Hollies group composed album track; "Put Yourself in My Place" included on the EMI/Parlophone album; Hollies (1965) being featured on a piano solo during the song.

Hawkshaw was also featured playing with David Bowie on the Bowie at the Beeb album, in a performance recorded for the "John Peel in Top Gear" show on 13 May 1968, in which he played a solo on "In The Heat of the Morning".

In 1969, Hank Marvin recruited Hawkshaw into The Shadows to tour Japan in which one concert was recorded and subsequently released in Japan, The Shadows Live in Japan (1969), taking a featured lead on piano on "Theme from Exodus". In 1970, Hawkshaw recorded one more studio album with The Shadows, Shades of Rock before leaving this band.[] He also did appear as keyboardist on The Shadows' spin-off vocal group Marvin, Welch, & Farrar's self-titled debut and follow-up Second Opinion albums both released on EMI's reactivated Regal Zonophone label in 1971.

In the 1970s, he played in The Shadows; he worked for Olivia Newton-John, Jane Birkin, and Serge Gainsbourg (including on "L'homme à tête de chou") as a musical director, arranger and pianist and was a keyboard player for Cliff Richard, for whom he also co-wrote (with Douggie Wright) "The Days of Love", one of six shortlisted songs which Richard performed in A Song for Europe that year. He also played keyboards on Donna Summer's 1977 double album Once Upon A Time. One of his best-known compositions is "Blarney's Stoned" (originally recorded for KPM in 1969 under the title "Studio 69") which was used as the theme tune for Dave Allen's television shows The Dave Allen Show and Dave Allen at Large.[3] In 1975, he wrote the theme tune to the BBC's On the Move educational programme, which featured Bob Hoskins as an illiterate lorry driver. The song was sung by The Dooleys. In 1977, he composed "New Earth Parts 1 & 2" for Hank Marvin's Guitar Syndicate LP project. This was subsequently sampled over 30 years later by Jay-Z for his song "Pray".

Hawkshaw also performed the music The Night Rider (the theme for Cadbury's Milk Tray adverts). He also composed "Best Endeavours", which has been the theme for Channel 4 News since 1982, and was used for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's The National news and current affairs programme from 1984 to 1987. His tune "Chicken Man" was used as the theme for Grange Hill from its start in 1978 until 1989, and revived for the final series of Grange Hill in 2008. Another recording of Chicken Man was used contemporaneously with the original Grange Hill version for the ITV quiz show Give Us A Clue. The Countdown "Chimes" jingle used on Channel 4's Countdown game show was also composed by Hawkshaw.[4] He composed all the music for the Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World series, and the theme "Technicolour", which was used for the BBC Midlands Today programme from 1984 to 1988, following which was replaced with a remix of this tune from 1989 to 1991.

In the United States, he also scored a number 1 single on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart with "Here Comes That Sound Again", as part of Love De-Luxe With Hawkshaw's Discophonia in 1979.

Also in 1979, he released a disco album under the moniker "Bizarre" which was essentially a solo project with the help of executive producer Barry Mason. It was released in the UK on Polydor Records (cat. no. 2383 553) in 1979 - tracks: Get Up/Don't Move/Hot Hollywood Nights/You Make My Life So Beautiful/Let Me Fill Your World With Love/Take The Money And Run. he also once more appeared with The Shadows guesting on their 1979 UK chart-topping album String of Hits playing piano on a cover of Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

Hawkshaw is credited with the co-composition (with B. Henry) of "I Feel So Good", a 1966 release by Manchester's Playboys (Fontana TF745).

The Alan Hawkshaw Foundation in conjunction with the Performing Rights Society has since 2003 supported young underprivileged music students and Media composers to gain degrees and scholarships at both the Leeds College of Music and the National Film and Television School.

In July 2016, Hawkshaw was awarded a doctorate for his contributions to the music industry, adding the title of Doctor to his name.[]

Personal life

After a brief early marriage, Hawkshaw married German-born Christiane Bieberbach in 1968; they have two children; singer, composer and musician Kirsty (b. 1969), and Sheldon (b. 1971).[5]

Honours and awards

  • Fellow of the Leeds College of Music
  • Best Arrangement 1973 "I Honestly Love You" for Olivia Newton-John
  • Ivor Novello Award best film score The Silent Witness 1979
  • BASCA Nomination Best Television Score for Love Hurts 1991
  • Gold Badge Award 2008 for services to the industry
  • Doctorate for services to the industry by Hull University and Leeds College of Music

Hawkshaw was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to music and composing.[6]


The Shadows

Emile Ford and The Checkmates

  • 1961: New Tracks With Emile
  • 1962: Emile[7]

The Mohawks

The Mohawks were a band formed from session musicians.

Track listing

  1. "The Champ" - UK #58[8]
  2. "Hip Juggler"
  3. "Sweet Soul Music"
  4. "Dr Jekyll and Hyde Park"
  5. "Senior Thump"
  6. "Landscape"
  7. "Baby Hold On"
  8. "Funky Broadway"
  9. "Rocky Mountain Roundabout"
  10. "Sound of the Witchdoctors"
  11. "Beat Me Til I'm Blue"
  12. "Can You Hear Me?"

Tracks 4, 5, 9 and 11 also appeared on Hawkshaw's album, Mo'Hawk.


  1. ^ "Works written by: HAWKSHAW WILLIAM ALAN". ACE Title Search. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved 2010.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Hair, The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical", Corona Records 1969 EROS 8116
  3. ^ 'Off the telly' website Archived 28 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine[dead link]
  4. ^ "Grandstand, Countdown, Ski Sunday: the unsung heroes behind TV's greatest tunes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2020.
  5. ^ The Champ (The Hawk Talks), Alan Hawkshaw autobiography, published 2011.
  6. ^ "No. 63377". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2021. p. B30.
  7. ^ "Emile Ford & The Checkmates". Discogs. Retrieved 2020.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 373. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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