Chas Hodges credits Croydon for big break into music
HIS brand of cockney rock has been a favourite with music fans from London and beyond for half a century.
But few may realise that Chas Hodges, one half of Snooker Loopy duo Chas and Dave, credits Croydon for his big break into the world of music.
Chas is returning to Fairfield Halls in the spring – 50 years after the gig that kick-started his career, when he performed alongside the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis.
Recalling the concert, he told the Advertiser: "When people ask, 'what is the highlight of your career?' the first one that comes to mind was in 1963, when I was playing bass in The Outlaws and we toured as Jerry Lee Lewis' backing group.
"That was when I first started to play the piano. Jerry was my favourite rock 'n' roller, but that tour I really came on in leaps and bounds.
"The London gig was at Fairfield Halls and I have a photograph with Jerry on stage there. I remember Croydon was a great crowd.
"The first highlight of my career was there, so Fairfield Croydon was a big London gig. That was the highlight, and since then I got together with Dave, have toured with The Beatles, and never looked back.
"The performance with Jerry Lee Lewis was the most memorable and I know he loved my bass playing. It kicked off my future career."
From starting out in a school Skiffle group in the 1950s, to touring the world and playing alongside The Beatles, Chas has lived by the rock 'n' roll rulebook.
Speaking of his early days, he said: "You could start one [a Skiffle band] with no money. It was a great way to get started. Eric Clapton and a lot of people started off as Skiffle groups. A couple of guitars, a washboard with string or whatever, and a tea chest.
"We've seen a few things, wild drunken parties, but we kept away from it. We liked a pint, me and Dave, but we didn't chuck no tellies out of the window or anything."
In a career spanning 40 years, Chas and Dave are one of Britain's longest-running and best-loved rock acts after breaking onto the music scene as a duo in 1972.
And the Spurs-supporting pair, who have sold millions of albums while becoming famous for their East End charm, continue to wow younger audiences at festivals, having played to thousands at Glastonbury in 2005 and 2007 and rocking Bestival in 2012.
So what's the secret to their longevity?
Chas said: "You look at the X Factor; they aren't going to last long.
"My first professional gig was in 1960 and I've been going since then. If you can't play and you're doing it for the wrong reasons, you're not going to last.
"I've had no aspiration of being famous or being spotted. Just playing and enjoying it, that's enough for me. The ambition has always been to play and enjoy it.
"My mum was a piano player and she used to perform in front of people, so it's in my blood. I just love doing what I'm doing."
For some performers, music is all about sex, drugs and rock n'roll.
So what’s Chas Hodges' greatest vice?
A cup of the old Rosie Lee and a trip down the allotment to grow some Nellie Deans!
The legendary rocker, who boasts to have performed three gigs a week since 1960, said: "On the day of the gig I have a cup of tea. But I also go down the allotment. It’s a good way to clear your head before a gig.
"I’ve been growing my own since 1972, well before organic stuff was trendy.
"It feeds your head, clears your head and I grow some good vegetables as well."
Chas will return to Croydon with Dave, and son Nik on the drums, for a two-hour show of their classic tunes on Friday, April 19.
Call the Fairfield Halls box office on 020 8688 9291 for ticket details.