Alan Hawkshaw, Countdown and Grange Hill composer, dies aged 84 – The Guardian

Alan Hawkshaw, Countdown and Grange Hill composer, dies aged 84 – The Guardian

Music

Leeds-born musician and producer labored with artists reminiscent of Barbra Streisand and was sampled in quite a few hip-hop tracks

Alan Hawkshaw, the musician and songwriter who composed a number of the UK’s best-known TV themes and was sampled throughout the hip-hop scene, has died aged 84. He was admitted to hospital with pneumonia final week, and died early on Saturday.

Hawkshaw wrote the loping, virtually reggae-like theme to Grange Hill (initially written years earlier than and entitled Hen Man), the motif for saying the contestants’ time is up on Countdown, and the theme to Channel four Information.

He additionally labored as a producer, songwriter or session musician with artists together with David Bowie, Barbra Streisand, Serge Gainsbourg, Tom Jones and lots of extra.

Born in Leeds, Hawkshaw was a pianist and Hammond organist who, from the 1960s onwards, performed in a collection of pop and rock’n’roll teams such because the Shadows (who had been Cliff Richard’s backing band), Emile Ford and the Checkmates, the Crescendoes and the Mohawks.

He performed on recordings by Bowie and the Hollies and, shifting with the occasions, embraced 1970s pop and disco as Olivia Newton-John’s musical director and Donna Summer season’s keyboardist. He ended up working at greater than 7,000 recording periods.

Alongside his session work, he wrote and carried out his personal library music tracks: inventory items of music that may very well be used for TV themes, promoting or different means. One in all these, The Night time Rider, was used for the James Bond-esque Cadbury’s Milk Tray adverts. These library music tracks, which span all kinds of genres, grew to become a treasure trove for hip-hop producers, and Hawkshaw samples might be heard on tracks by Jay-Z, the Sugarhill Gang, Meek Mill and others.

The success of his compositions allowed him to create his personal basis, which supported underprivileged college students at Leeds Conservatoire and the Nationwide Movie and Television College.

He married Christine in 1968, they usually had two youngsters, Kirsty and Sheldon. Christine paid tribute to him, saying: “He completely understood me. We spent the previous few hours gazing at one another with love, holding palms, no want for phrases.”

His agent, Amanda Avenue, referred to as him “merely a musical genius”.

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