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Chas & Dave

October 2008

THOUGH it has been their bread 'n' butter since the late-seventies, Chas & Dave hate the idea that they're novelty cockneys.
"Some of the public thought it was a couple of drunken blokes that got lucky in a pub," says Chas Hodges of early reaction to their success with hits like Rabbit, Margate and Gertcha.
"Dave really gets the hump but I know what I can do. It don't bother me.
"In the early days musicians around us, like Eric Clapton and Albert Lee and Jerry Lee Lewis, they always saw what we were up to."
That's right, there was life before Chas & Dave; both Hodges and Peacock were part of the British rock and blues boom of the Sixties.
With a band called The Outlaws Hodges toured Britain and the US with Jerry Lee Lewis.
"That's when I really started learning to play," he says.
"I saw him as a kid in 1958. I thought I gotta learn to play piano. He showed me a few things. He was great. He's always been great to me. He's paid me some great compliments."
He was also a member of Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers.
"We used to play the old Nottingham Boat (Club). All the bands did it. It was great."
But it was with Heads Hands And Feet that Hodges hit on the idea for Chas & Dave.
"We were touring America and I was singing in an American accent. I felt a bit of a fraud so I started singing in my own accent. I got in touch with Dave when I came back. This was 1972, and told him my idea."
He adds: "Record companies said you ain't going to sell no records with this London accent. They couldn't make it out."
It worked so well they ended up with their own TV show and supported Eric Clapton on tour.
"We used to get Albert Lee on our set at the end to do a couple of rock 'n' roll things. Two or three days in to the tour Eric said 'what's the matter with me? I want to come on an' all'. So him and Albert used to come on at the end of our set."
The same year they also opened for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth.
From 1979 to 1986 Chas & Dave had half a dozen hits: Gertcha, The Sideboard Song, Rabbit, Stars Over 45, Snooker Loopy and Ain't No Pleasing You, their biggest success, reaching No.2 in the UK chart. They were also behind three hits for the Tottenham team.
A support slot with The Libertines – Pete Doherty and Carl Barat were fans – reignited their appeal but these days they're playing fewer gigs as Chas & Dave.
"I shall be doing clubs with The Chas Hodges Band. I've just finished my own LP."
It's a DIY job. He wrote all the songs and played all the instruments.
He's also written the Chas & Dave story, All About Us.
So what's Dave been up to: is he bone idle or what?
"Yeah," he laughs.
"He packed up his involvement in writing about four years ago. But he's got other interests. He's got some horses that he likes driving. He still wants to gig but not as much as I do. The older I've got the more I've got in to it."
Not that either of them have to bother.
"We don't have to work if we don't want to," he says.
Which is why they're not in it for the money, turning down I'm A Celebrity... or "that jungle thing" as he calls it.
"(My manager) said: 'you get like fifty grand straight away!' We said 'well we (effing) don't want to do it. (Bobbins) to that. I write songs.
"If someone comes along with loads of money I ain't bothered. I don't want loads of money. I'm a musician."

Chas & Dave play The Maze on Thursday, October 23.

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