Celebrating their 40th anniversary as a partnership Chas & Dave are back out on the road with a new tour. Andy Howells catches up with Chas Hodges ahead of the pair’s appearance at Newport Riverfront for a rabbit…
“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 who originate from the East End of London, took the charts by storm in the early 80s with hits such as Rabbit and Ain’t No Pleasing You. They are now touring again and make a return visit to Newport Riverfront next month. I tell Chas it’s a pleasant surprise to see them back. The last 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 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 learned 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.
Disc Jockey Terry Wogan favoured their recording of Billy Tyler on Radio 2 while Gertcha! and Rabbit proved successful in the charts. They scored their biggest hit in 1982 with Ain’t No Pleasing You which reached Number 2 and were 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.”
The current tour is a timely celebration of Chas & Dave’s 40 year partnership, promising to revisit material the pair performed in the East End pubs when they first got together as well as all the hits from the 80s onwards.
Chas is delighted with the response from fans who attend the shows “They sing all our songs,” he says of the audience “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 during March 2012.
- For the latest Chas & Dave news visit their official website.