Musician/songwriter/producer Chas Hodges was born in North Middlesex Hospital, Edmonton on 28th December 1943. Attending Eldon Road Junior School, Lower Edmonton and later Higher Grade School, Upper Edmonton.
On 27th of December 1947, the day before Chas’s 4th birthday, Chas’s father, Albert, committed suicide. His mother Daisy managed to feed the kids (Chas and his older brother Dave) by playing piano in clubs and pubs around North London. At the age of 12, with his mother’s encouragement, Chas learned to play guitar. A year later, 1957, he joined his first band, The Horseshoe skiffle group. When Jerry Lee Lewis played at The Edmonton Regal in 1958, Chas was in the audience, and from that point aspired to become a piano player, much to his mothers delight. In the meantime, Skiffle had played its part and was now on the wane. Rock’n’Roll was taking over and Chas wanted to be part of it. In 1959 Chas bought a Hofner bass guitar (the first electric bass in north London, which he still has and records with) and was in demand. He began playing in various rock’n’roll bands around the area. At the age of 16 he turned fully professional.
One of his first paying gigs was the summer season at Butlins, Filey with Billy Gray & the Stormers in 1960 . The following year, the same band, minus Billy Gray become The Outlaws with new singer Mike Berry, and the legendary Joe Meek as their record producer & engineer. Chas became the major session bass player for the next two years up at Joe Meek’s famous home studio, with the Outlaws practically becoming Meek’s ‘house band’. Chas played on numerous hits such as ‘Tribute to Buddy Holly’, with Mike Berry, ‘Johnny Remember me’ with John Leyton, and ‘Just Like Eddie’ with Heinz. (Along with the new Outlaw member, Ritchie Blackmore).
In 1963 Chas went on tour in Britain & Europe as bass player for Jerry Lee Lewis. It was meant to be. Watching and learning from Jerry Lee every night, Chas’s piano playing began to take serious shape. The same year The Outlaws also backed another legend, Gene Vincent, with Chas taking on the role of musical director. The Outlaws toured with Gene from mid ’63 to early ’64. The tour included a week at the famous Star Club, Hamburg, where they found themselves on the same bill as Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers, Chas’s favourite British band at that time. Shortly after returning home, Chas got a call from Cliff Bennett offering Chas a job with him & the band. Chas accepted the offer and in 1966, after supporting the Beatles on their last European tour, Paul McCartney took the band into Abbey Road & produced ‘Got to get you into my life’, which reached number 6 in the UK singles chart.
In 1970 Heads, Hands & Feet were formed around Chas’s friend and favourite British guitar player Albert Lee. On Albert’s recommendation, Chas was asked to join the band and he spent the next two years recording and gigging with them including an extensive tour of America. It was in America on that tour that Chas began to get ideas about writing his own songs and singing in his own accent. ‘It seemed okay singing in an American accent at home, but in America it felt wrong. I felt like a fraud. His friend Dave Peacock shared his views and so Chas & Dave got together at the end of 1972. Shortly before this, Chas & Heads, Hands & Feet played on Jerry Lee Lewis’ London Sessions Album along with such luminaries as Rory Gallagher, Alvin Lee & other big names of the day.
Chas & Dave recorded their first album in 1974, with Mick Burt, Chas’ drummer from the Rebel Rousers, joining them full time not long after. After a couple of well received albums they finally broke big with ‘Gertcha’, their first top 20 hit in 1979, and they were on their way to becoming multiple hit wonders! The following year, Chas was in the producer’s chair for his old mate Mike Berry. The resulting single ‘Sunshine Of Your Smile’ was a top ten hit and remains a live favourite for Chas & Dave. Chas and Mike followed up this success with an album of the same name. After a couple of very successful years with Dave, Chas briefly became a member of the Beatles (!) This little known event occurred at Eric Clapton’s wedding in 1983. Eric had arranged a Marquee with full backline and drums for anybody who fancied a blow. Chas got up & started playing some rock’n’roll on the piano. One by one Paul, George & Ringo got up & joined in. The Beatles were
together again with the new line up of ‘Chas, Paul, George & Ringo!’. Photographs were taken by Ringo’s wife Maureen’ Says Chas: ‘She told my wife Joan that she would send her copies. But when Joan called her next day she said she was told she must keep them to herself.’ Perhaps one day they’ll come to light.