Alan Hawkshaw (born William Alan Hawkshaw, 27 March 1937, Leeds, West Yorkshire) is a British composer and performer, particularly of themes for movies and television programmes. 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.
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 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 dance artist Kirsty Hawkshaw, who was a member of the dance group Opus III from 1991 to 1995.
He worked as a printer for several years before becoming a professional musician, first joing the pop group The Crescendos. In the 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. 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 as a musical director, arranger and pianist and was a keyboard player for Cliff Richard. One of this 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. He composed all the music for the Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World series. He composed 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. Hawkshaw also composed 'Best Endeavours', which has been the theme for Channel 4 News since 1982, and Chicken Man, which 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. He also performed the music The Night Rider (the theme for Cadbury's Milk Tray adverts.) Also in 1978 wrote the theme tune to the BBC's "On The Move" educational program, which featured Bob Hoskins as an illiterate lorry driver. The song was sung by The Dooleys.
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.
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).
Awards for Alan Hawkshaw
- 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
- 1969–1970: ? (The Shadows)
- 1969–1970: ? (The Shadows)
- 1969: Live in Japan
- 1970: Shades of Rock
Emile Ford and The Checkmates
The Mohawks were a band formed from session musicians.
- The Champ (1967)
- "The Champ" – UK #58
- "Hip Juggler"
- "Sweet Soul Music"
- "Dr Jekyll and Hyde Park"
- "Señor Thump"
- "Baby Hold On"
- "Funky Broadway"
- "Rocky Mountain Roundabout"
- "Sound of the Witchdoctors"
- "Beat Me Til I'm Blue"
- "Can You Hear Me?"
Tracks 4, 5, 9 and 11 also appeared on Hawkshaw's album, Mo'Hawk.
The title track ("The Champ") has been widely sampled and emulated in hip hop and rock music, appearing, amongst other tracks, in:
- The D.O.C. - "Comm. Blues 2"
- Onyx – "Slam"
- Maestro Fresh-Wes – "Let Your Backbone Slide" (Symphony in Effect)
- Redman – "Da Funk" (Whut? Thee Album)
- Eric B. & Rakim – "Eric B. Is President" (Paid in Full)
- KRS-One – "Step into a World" (I Got Next)
- EPMD – "The Big Payback" (Unfinished Business)
- Cut Chemist & DJ Shadow – "Mohawks Champ" (Brainfreeze)
- Erick Sermon – "Stay Real" (No Pressure)
- Guy – "Groove Me"
- Breakestra – "Champ" (The Live Mix, Part 2)
- Foxy Brown – "Tramp" (Chyna Doll)
- Main Source – "Large Professor" (Breaking Atoms)
- Keith Murray – "Get Lifted" (The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World)
- King Tee – "At Your Own Risk"
- Ini Kamoze – "Here Comes the Hotstepper"
- Ice Cube – "Friday"
- De La Soul – "Keepin' The Faith"
- Edan – "Funky Rhyming"
- Looptroop Rockers – "Four Elements"
- Lloyd Banks – "On Fire"
- Fu-Schnickens – "La Schmoove"
- The Notorious B.I.G. - "Machine Gun Funk (DJ Premier Remix)"
- Big Daddy Kane - "Smooth Operator"
- Salt-N-Pepa - "Tramp"
- Janelle Monáe - "Sincerely, Jane"
- DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince - "Pump Up The Bass"
- MC Hammer - "Pump It Up"
- Marley Marl - "The Man Marley Marl"
- Nas, Kam, King Tee and Candyman feat. Threat, Ice-T and Sir Mix-a-Lot - "Where Are They Now (West Coast Remix)"
- T.I. feat. B.o.B.- "We Don't Get Down Like Y'all"
- Whitney Houston feat. P. Diddy - "Whatchulookinat"
- Two Sisters - "Pop Lock This Rock"
- Queen - We Will Rock You (1991 Bonus Remix Ruined by Rick Rubin)