R.I.P. Chas Hodges

by Stephen Benzikie

by Stephen Benzikie

Lessons for the world of business don't necessarily spring to mind with the sad passing at 74 of Chas Hodges, the British entertainer who was half of the much-loved pop-rock duo Chas and Dave. Yet when regularly asked in media interviews about the secret of their enduring success, Chas was always clear about what had kept their show on the road for decades:

  1. Love your work

  2. Stick to what you know best and do it as well as possible

  3. Do it with people you care about and value their contribution

  4. Be yourself, be authentic

  5. Work hard

While perhaps not sophisticated - not that they gave a monkey's - Chas and Dave's songs were nonetheless clever, witty and musically accomplished. Blending old time music hall styles with rock'n'roll to create 'Rockney', a pun on Cockney, the pair were told they'd never sell any records outside London. How wrong the detractors were. Neither Chas nor Dave was strictly speaking a Cockney, since they both hailed from the Edmonton area of north London, but their songs about blue collar life, love and family in the capital struck a chord with audiences all over Britain and beyond.

Before partnering with his childhood friend for more than 40 years of touring and recording, Chas played bass and piano alongside musical greats as varied as Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Albert Lee and Ritchie Blackmore. Anyone who knew this would have understood the slightly surreal set-list for Chas and Dave's 1982 Christmas TV special, when Rockney favourites such as Gertcha, The Sideboard Song, and Ain't No Pleasing You were followed by three numbers performed with long-time fan Eric Clapton.

Chas and Dave's inimitable music lives on. It can lift the darkest gloom and make you smile from ear to ear. It also speaks the truth: in 1979, Chas sang about his over-chatty missus having "more rabbit than Sainsbury's". I have tried many times, but still never successfully sourced rabbit from Saino's, although I note it is now available diced in 250g packets for £5.