“Its lovely to have had a life doing something you enjoy!” says Len ‘Chip’ Hawkes.
The former star of 60s chart toppers The Tremeloes and the father of chart topping The One and Only star Chesney kicks off The Sixties Gold 50th Anniversary Tour with original Tremeloes front man Brian Poole and other 60s legends in Cardiff next week.
“Nobody’s got anything to prove now," Chip laughs, “We go on, play the hits and they speak for themselves.”
Chip became interested in music as a boy back in the 1950s when a friend made a guitar in a local boys club, “I made a guitar at school in the woodworking shop and we just struck up a friendship and started to play together,” he says, “Funnily enough that’s how I became interested in Woodwork and when I left school I became a carpenters apprentice.”
Inspired by his hero Elvis Presley, Chip split his time working on building sites with playing at local gigs in Slough, sometimes still covered in wood shavings when he got on stage, and that’s how he came by his nickname.
Following a spell playing gigs in Germany with The Horizons, Chip returned home to England and quickly followed up an audition to join a band. “I just got an audition and they didn't name the band, but they said it was a “professional band in London,” anyway it was The Tremeloes and I passed the audition.”
For a brief spell Chip played alongside original Tremeloes frontman Brian Poole, “I was so bewildered, I was so young and it happened very quickly. In those days it was so new and fresh. I never flew until then and I’d never had a wage! Then Brian left and a new era started us on our own, it was a pioneering time as well.”
A change of record label from Decca to CBS saw a change in direction for the Tremeloes who had previously topped the charts with songs such as Do You Love Me and Twist and Shout. Brandishing a happier feel-good sound the hits continued including Even The Bad Times are Good and Call Me Number One and a further chart-topper with Silence Is Golden in 1967.
“We were all such different characters,” says Chip of the band which also included Dave Munden, Alan Blakely and Rick Westwood, “but somehow it worked. We didn't have many disputes but of course we did, then in the next minute we were in the pub having a drink, we were just mates and it worked.”
Chip has now reunited with original Tremeloes front man Brian Poole to present a brief history of The Tremeloes on stage covering both their eras and featuring selections from some 25 hits. "Its very relaxed on stage , there’s never any tense moments and if anything goes wrong we just laugh!” he says.
- Chip Hawkes and Brian Poole with Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Searchers and PJ Proby played St David’s Hall, Cardiff on Wednesday September 25, 2013.
- A version of this interview by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide during September 2013.
- Read Andy Howells review of the Sixties Gold show for 2013
- Read Andy Howells interview with Tremeloes drummer Dave Munden
- Read Andy Howells interview with original Tremeloes frontman Brian Poole