The one and only!

He’s played the East Mid­lands many times over the years, but his next show will be part of an 80s week­ender at But­lins in Skeg­ness. Ch­es­ney Hawkes, who now lives in Los An­ge­les, tells HE­LEN BARNES about singing on glaciers – and THAT song

Loughborough Echo - - NEAR YOU -

You’re back in the UK next month for a se­ries of But­lins dates. These 80s mu­sic week­enders seem to have a re­ally strong line-up of real acts, not trib­ute bands…

Yes, I LOVE But­lins! I’ve worked for But­lins for ten-plus years now. It’s an in­sti­tu­tion. You do these week­enders and they have amaz­ing artists on, but also they’re in­cred­i­bly pro­fes­sional with the sound, the stag­ing and every­thing. The crowds are al­ways fan­tas­tic – it’s like one mas­sive fancy dress party, where peo­ple leave their in­hi­bi­tions at the door and just go crazy.

So, you’d rec­om­mend it then to mu­sic lovers, as a nice, safe en­vi­ron­ment to have a good time?

Oh ab­so­lutely! Yeah, they def­i­nitely look af­ter their pun­ters and if you’re up for a good laugh as well as great mu­sic, then that’s the place to go. It’s an amaz­ing venue to play at. Pos­si­bly over the years it’s had the rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing a bit of a cheesy venue, but I think that’s all changed now – their brand is so much stronger, the week­ends speak for them­selves re­ally, they’re al­ways to­tally packed and we all en­joy them.

A bit dif­fer­ent from the event you have at Cat­tow’s Farm, in Le­ices­ter, later in the year then?

Yeah, that’s a new one for me. I’ve head­lined the fes­ti­val there a few times, but then they came up with an idea of “a week­end with Ch­es­ney”. It will be a much smaller group of peo­ple and I will be do­ing lots of fun things over the week­end – I’ll be serv­ing break­fast, hav­ing a ques­tion and an­swers ses­sion, a lit­tle acous­tic gig, I will even be do­ing a lit­tle DJ set at one point too!

Where’s the strangest place you’ve per­formed?

On a glacier in Ice­land. We all went up on a snow­mo­bile and you could hardly see what was go­ing on as it was snow­ing so badly.

Speak­ing of ice, didn’t you once frac­ture your an­kle when you were due to ap­pear on Danc­ing On Ice a few years ago?

Yeah… my wife says no more re­al­ity shows in case I break an­other bone or some­thing. I did this show called The Games (Chan­nel 4, 2005) where I trained like an Olympic ath­lete. We did ski jump­ing, sumo wrestling, all sorts of crazy things as well as 100m sprint, cy­cling etc. I ripped all the car­ti­lage out of my hip in a water ski jump­ing ac­ci­dent. I am a bit ac­ci­dent prone.

If you were to at­tempt a Guin­ness World Record, what would you go for?

I have ac­tu­ally. It was at a char­ity event and we tried to get the most peo­ple play­ing air gui­tar at the same time. It was at Portsmouth Foot­ball Club and I think we would have got the record, but on the day it ab­so­lutely p***** it down with rain, so a lot didn’t turn up.

Apart from air gui­tar and ob­vi­ously mu­sic in gen­eral, what else are you good at then?

I’m a skate boarder… I wouldn’t say I’m par­tic­u­larly amaz­ing, I’m not like my name­sake, Tony Hawkes, I’m more into long boards nowa­days. My wife tells me off as I’m al­ways com­ing home with ei­ther skate­boards or gui­tars.

When was the last time you were starstruck?

I’m a mas­sive fan of Ben Folds, I have been for ages. I’ve met many peo­ple over the years and never re­ally got starstruck – Paul Mc­Cart­ney, Ge­orge Har­ri­son, Lady Diana – but then I was on this aero­plane in the States, go­ing to Chicago, and Ben was sit­ting op­po­site me. My wife was with me, say­ing “what are you go­ing all silly for?”. I sup­pose you just don’t know how you’re go­ing to re­act, but I just re­vere him as a mu­si­cian and song­writer.

Do you get recog­nised when you’re out and about?

Well I do a lit­tle, both here and in Eng­land. Here they know the mu­sic, in Eng­land it de­pends if I’ve dyed my hair or not.

When I told a friend I was in­ter­view­ing you to­day about your 80s gig at But­lins, she said you were 90s, not 80s….which decade would you say you fit into?

Every­one al­ways says I’m 80s, but I’m ac­tu­ally 90s. I’m happy that I’m con­fused with the 80s as it gives me loads more gigs. I play at both. The One And Only was 1991, but I think my con­nec­tion with the 80s is prob­a­bly Nik Ker­shaw, who wrote the song.

Do you pre­fer per­form­ing more now or back then?

I think more now be­cause I can do things on my own terms. Back then it was fun, don’t get me wrong, but in the eye of the storm it was so crazy I never re­ally got a chance to sit back and re­ally en­joy what was hap­pen­ing to me.

You of­ten joke about hav­ing just one big hit (The One And Only was num­ber 1 in the UK mu­sic charts for five weeks and reached num­ber 10 in the US) – if you could swap The One And Only for an­other song that you’d al­ways be singing in­stead, what would it be?

That’s a ques­tion I’ve never ac­tu­ally been asked be­fore! To be hon­est with you, I wouldn’t swap it. Nik (Ker­shaw) and I al­ways say it’s a song with wings and for what­ever rea­son it just had that ex­tra bit of fairy dust at­tached to it. It’s re­ally held its own in the test of time and I think it still stands up as a great record, so re­ally, I wouldn’t swap it for any­thing else.

What’s the most com­mon ques­tion you get asked?

Do you get sick of singing The One And Only? And the an­swer is no. Although, there was a time when I didn’t play it for about seven years – af­ter all the crazi­ness I threw down the gaunt­let and said “right, I’m never gonna play that song again!”

Have you turned down any op­por­tu­ni­ties that you wish you hadn’t?

I was once of­fered Joseph And the Amaz­ing Tech­ni­color Dream­coat af­ter Ja­son Dono­van, for big money, etc, but I don’t re­gret it.

Any great mem­o­ries from time you’ve spent in Not­ting­ham?

I’ve played a lot in Not­ting­ham over the years. I had an amaz­ing week there when I stayed we toured with the mu­si­cal theatre pro­duc­tion Can’t Smile With­out You – I re­mem­ber hav­ing a re­ally lovely time as I stayed with friends and they took me around Not­ting­ham. I do have a soft spot for for the city.

Ch­es­ney Hawkes will be ap­pear­ing at But­lins Ab­so­lute 80s Week­ender, Skeg­ness, Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 1 - Mon­day, Fe­bru­ary 4. Prices from £87 per per­son for three nights. Head­lin­ers also in­clude Sis­ter Sledge Live ft. Kathy Sledge, Go West, T’Pau, Wendy James from Transvi­sion Vamp, Aswad, Cu­rios­ity Killed The Cat, So­nia, Mai Tai, Pat Sharp (DJ Set), Jive Bunny and Black Lace. Tick­ets are avail­able from big­week­ or by call­ing 0330 102 5295.

■ A Week­end with Ch­es­ney Hawkes, The one and only... (With spe­cial guest Pat Sharp) at Cat­tow’s Farm, Nor­man­ton Lane, Heather, LE67 2TD is lim­ited to no more that 500 peo­ple and takes place from Fri­day, May 31, to Mon­day, June 3. Prices £138.63-£345.72. Tick­ets are avail­able through

Ch­es­ney in 1998

Ch­es­ney Hawkes

Ch­es­ney on stage last year

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