Chas Hodges, one half of duo Chas & Dave chats with Kevin Cooper about how he first met Dave, his favourite Chas & Dave song, opening for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979 and their forthcoming tour.

Chas Hodges is an English musician and singer, probably best known for being one half, and lead vocalist, of the English musical duo, Chas & Dave.

Hodges is still famous and popular today among supporters of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club owing to the singles Ossie’s Dream and Tottenham, Tottenham. In 2008, Hodges published a book called Chas & Dave: All About Us, which took him a quarter of a century to write.

Taking time out to speak to Kevin Cooper, this is what he had to say.


Mr Hodges good morning how are you?

I’m fine Kevin thanks how are you?

I’m very well thank you.

Lovely job.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to me.

You are very welcome Kevin.

And I have to ask, just how is life treating you?

It’s all very, very good. In fact things couldn’t be better.

You are playing here in Nottingham on Friday at The Albert Hall. Are you looking forward to the gig?

Yes Kevin, most definitely. We have been playing Nottingham for many, many years now since the days of the old Nottingham Boathouse way back in the 1960’s. I have got a lot of good memories of playing up there in Nottingham.

I saw you at The Capital FM Arena supporting Status Quo last December and that was a brilliant set that you did.

Thanks Kevin that was really great fun.

Before the gig I interviewed Francis (Rossi) and he was like a kiddie in a sweet shop when he told me that you would be supporting them.

(Laughter) Francis is great. We have known each other for years and tears. We have managed to do the odd things together but last year we finally toured together. He has always been a great fan of ours just as we are of them.

And then I was shooting the Cornbury Festival earlier this summer and there you were performing on the Friday night.

That’s right Kevin, there aren’t many places that we aren’t going to be (laughter). That’s Chas and Dave for you; we are around everywhere.

However I have to be honest and tell you that the very first time that I saw you was opening for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth back in 1979. I was woken up to the sound of Gertcha blasting out (laughter).

(Laughter) blimey Kevin, that’s a while ago now. We actually played both of the weekends and it was absolutely brilliant.

You and Dave (Peacock) formed Chas and Dave way back in 1975; did you ever think that you would still be going strong some forty years later?

To be totally honest with you Kevin, yes I did. I mean that is why we formed. Up until Dave and me formed Chas and Dave I was playing in bands such as The Outlaws, Mike Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, and then I went out on the road with Cliff Bennett And The Rebel Rousers. I soon realised that all of these bands were short lived really, even though I was in them for a while. I thought that I wanted to be in a band that would suit me for the rest of my life, and when Dave and me got together I thought this is the band; we are going to be here forever.

So just how did you and Dave meet?

When I was on the road with Jerry Lee Lewis I had just walked my girlfriend home and I was trying to thumb a lift back to my home. As it happened, Dave pulled up and that is how I got to know him. Simple as that (laughter).

And the rest is history.

Yes as they say Kevin.

You have mentioned some legends there, Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis to name but two. Who has given you the greatest pleasure to perform with?

That would most definitely have to be Jerry Lee Lewis, Kevin. The reason why is that I was playing the guitar in a skiffle group back in 1958 and after seeing Jerry Lee Lewis I vowed to become a piano player. After that I actually got to tour with him and I actually recorded with him. I learnt so much from playing on stage with Jerry Lee Lewis and I would have to put him right at the top.

After (Michael William) Mick Burt retired your son (Nicholas Charles) Nik Hodges took over the role as drummer with Chas and Dave. Is it nice having him around?

Yes it’s great Kevin and I have to say that Nik is a great drummer. Nik took over the drums in 2009 and he just fitted straight in there.

Do you and Dave ever argue?

Not over serious things, but we have had the odd argument or two about football (laughter) or perhaps whose round it was. We were friends for ten years before we actually got together.

Will we be seeing any new material from Chas and Dave?

I am writing all of the time Kevin and there are a few things in the pipeline so we will just sit tight and wait for the phone call.

In 2014 you guested on Simon Fowler’s (Ocean Colour Scene) new band Merrymouth’s album, Wenlock Hill, contributing piano on the song Salt Breeze. How was that?

Simon contacted me and asked me if I would play some piano on the new album and I had a great time working with them.

Putting you on the spot, do you have a favourite Chas and Dave song?

Yes I have Kevin, and it is Ain’t No Pleasing You although I do like Down To Margate, Gertcha, Rabbit and Snooker Loopy but I have to say that Ain’t No Pleasing You is a personal favourite of mine. It was a song that I had written in bits and pieces and then I put it all together with Dave’s approval. I think that it is the very first real cockney song that anyone had ever written and apart from everything else, everybody knows it; everybody sings it and for me, it was a bit of an achievement for me.

Chas and Dave are busy touring up to Christmas. What have you got planned for the New Year?

I still love writing songs Kevin, it’s like having babies (laughter). It’s great looking back and thinking that song didn’t exist until a few days ago. Whatever else happens in life there is always a new song on the horizon, which still gives me a buzz. I am always playing the piano and my unwritten rule is that I try to learn something new on the piano every week really. There is always something to challenge you Kevin. I am currently trying to learn a piece that my mum played well and that my daughter Kate plays well; its stride piano like Fats Waller played. I have never really gotten into that; I have always been a Boogie Woogie rock and roll piano player so stride piano is a bit of a challenge for me. To play stride piano is my future goal.

Was it always going to be a career in music for you?

When I left school I had a job as a horologist, which is the making of clocks. I really did enjoy that, but I didn’t like getting up early in the morning (laughter). But after I had joined the skiffle group at aged thirteen and had played a show with them, I was on cloud nine. Then after the show someone came up to me and gave me a pound note. When I asked them what it was for, they said that it was for playing the gig. I looked at the pound note and thought well, this is the life for me (laughter). To be able to do something which you absolutely adore doing and get paid for it was absolutely brilliant so from that point on I vowed that this was going to be my life; to play music for a living. And that is what I am still doing.

Who were you listening to when you were growing up?

Pre rock and roll it would be lots of 50’s stuff; Fats Waller, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and of course Lonnie Donegan. But then when rock and roll came out, everything simply exploded with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Buddy Holly a little later on. There was just a wealth of great, great music. I was lucky to be born in the right era.

Who has inspired you over the years?

That’s easy Kevin that would have to be my wife. She has always inspired me even back in the early days when times were really hard. When things were tough and we were bringing up the kids, never once did she tell me to go and get a job. She always told me to stick at it. She has been a great inspiration. Before that there was my dear mum who was a great piano player who dearly wanted me to be a piano player. So when I decided to play the piano after seeing Jerry Lee Lewis she was absolutely over the moon. I’m glad to say that she lived to see the success of me and Dave and that is a great feeling to know that.

Also I would have to mention Lonnie Donegan. In fact it was Lonnie who made me want to play the guitar. He was a massive influence on a lot of people of my era.

Testing you now, what was the first record that you ever bought?

The first record that I ever bought Kevin was Buddy Hollly’s Listen To Me and it cost me six shillings (laughter). Then the week after I went and bought my second single which was Jerry Lee Lewis singing Breathless.

Following on from that who did you first see performing live?

That would have been Jerry Lee Lewis back in 1958 and he just changed my world. From that point on I thought I like playing the guitar but I have got to learn just how to play the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. That was a real life-changing concert for me Kevin.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

To be honest with you Kevin, there has been a lot of them. The first one has to go back to me being out on the road with Jerry Lee Lewis who was a great hero of mine and I did eventually join his band as a bass player, so that has to be the first one. There have been many since; being on This Is Your Life with Eamonn Andrews, the first time that we played at Glastonbury, and the latest one which was just last year, topping The Royal Albert Hall on our own and selling it out. So as you can see Kevin there are highlights happening all of the time.

Who do you listen to now?

I have an old fashioned looking juke box which I have filled up with one hundred CD’s. On there is a good lot of rock ‘n’ roll with a small selection of old jazz on there such as Benny Goodman.

At what point in your career did you feel most musically satisfied?

That has to be after Ain’t No Pleasing You became a hit. It actually got to number one in The Melody Maker charts, and in the official charts it reached number two. That was the most satisfying because it was a personal achievement writing that song. Dave and me had been playing that song on stage for a good year before it was released.   We told our record company that it had to be a single because so many people liked it, but they told us that whilst it was a lovely song they didn’t believe that it could become a hit. People were asking us to play it live and that is the best gauge on whether or not a record will be a hit Kevin. So when it did make it as a hit that was the most satisfying time back in 1982.

I’m surprised that you didn’t mention Margate being used in an episode of Only Fools And Horses.

(Laughter) Yes that was great too Kevin. John Sullivan had originally wanted us to do the theme tune to Only Fools And Horses but at the time we were in Australia because so much was happening for us.   We had a number one hit with Ain’t No Pleasing You over there in Australia and so we felt that we should go over and tour there. Back then it wasn’t that easy but today we could go into a studio over in Australia; record the song and then with a push of a button, John would immediately have it. However it was a little bit harder back in those days Kevin so we didn’t do it in the end.

Later on John and I had become friends and he rang me up. He said that he would like to use Margate in The Jolly Boys Outing episode of Only Fools And Horses. I suggested that we take Del Boy and Rodney into the studio with us and get them to do a little bit. So that’s what we did. They both did little cameo bits and that was great. After the episode had been on, John Sullivan rang me up and he was so excited; telling me that he thought that it had worked perfectly. That was another big buzz Kevin.

Talking of a buzz, do you still get a buzz out of touring?

To be honest Kevin, we spread our gigs out, we don’t do a block of gigs then have nine months off twiddling our thumbs. This tour for example, we are doing about two gigs per week which gives us time off in the week. This week I am setting up a new stereo system which I have recently treated myself to.   It gives me the time to do that. I will be going off to the allotment later this afternoon to do a bit of digging. We spread it out nicely to make sure that it keeps it fresh and enjoyable. We tried the blocks of gigs years ago in the 80’s and to us it just didn’t make any sense. It was too much hard work being out on tour, and then far too much time sat twiddling your thumbs when you weren’t out on tour. So we spread it out and we look forward to it.

What next for Chas and Dave?

There might be a Christmas Day Chas and Dave Spectacular where we get friends, fans and guests on the show. We are waiting to hear about that any day now.

On that note let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today and good luck with the tour.

Alright Kevin it’s been good to talk to you too. Make sure that you come up and say hello. Cheers mate.