MUSIC / Chas and Dave - those lost years in full: Many assumed it was all over for Charles Hodges and David Peacock. But, gor blimey, no. By Jasper Rees

THREE days after Christmas in 1943, a Mrs Hodges of Edmonton in war-torn north London gave birth to a boy. She could have complicated a big decision he was to make in later life by christening him Samuel, but she plumped instead for Charles. By the time the young Hodges formed a band with David Peacock more than a quarter of a century later, another duo called Sam and Dave had already made quite a name for themselves.

When Chas and Dave met they were still both at school and Dave was in a band called the Rolling Stones. 'That was before the dodgy lot come about - we were better than them. We thought it was a stupid name so we changed it.' Even in their teens, at least one half of the duo had a proven poor ear for catchy names that was to resurface 10 years later when they were wondering what to call themselves.

'We tossed around two or three different names and couldn't come up with one,' says Chas. 'Chubby was one of them, wasn't it, Dave?'

'Yeah,' says Dave, 'Oily Rags was one of them as well.'

'Yeah, Rag and Bone,' says Chas.

'But we were doing lots of sessions for other people,' says Chas, 'and it was always Chas and Dave this and Chas and Dave that and one producer said 'Why don't you just call yourselves Chas and Dave?' '

'Yeah,' says Dave, 'we took the easy way out.'

Chas is the bearded one who plays the piano. Dave is the other bearded one who plays bass. Chas has the voice - 'that's why I do the old harmonies,' says Dave. In short, they split the vocal chores rather like those other north London old-timers, Ray and Dave Davies of the Kinks.

'We don't know much about them,' says Dave.

'We do like 'em,' says Chas.

'I can't tell them apart, them two, though,' says Dave. 'We know their drummer,' says Chas. 'I met them a few times years ago when I was with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers on the road.'

Long before they could shave, they had taught themselves to strum. Chas was given a guitar by his uncle Alf, while Dave learnt the banjo from his uncle Bill. 'Chas is very nifty on the guitar,' says Dave. 'A lot of people who haven't seen us think it's all 'Knees Up Mother Brown' and 'Up the Apples and Pears'. We love that old music-hall tradition, but after we've played our guitars and done our quiet songs people say, 'We didn't expect that, that was fantastic'.'

'We like to surprise people,' says Chas.

The first person they surprised was an EMI scout, who came along to see them and couldn't get in for the crush. A contract was duly signed and an album, One Fing and Anuvver, released, but success did not beckon until several years later, when an advertising executive heard 'Gertcha' and asked them if they would allow it to be used for a Courage commercial.

A place in the Top 20 followed but EMI dropped the duo on the assumption that they were one-hit wonders. New wave, ska and the new romantics were all the rage and the label underestimated the nation's appetite for rock'n'roll delivered in a cockney accent by a couple of hairy men in their thirties. 'We knew we weren't going to be a novelty act,' says Chas. 'Our manager Bob England had faith - he had Darts at the time.'

They started their own record label, which they called Rockney, and England set up a distribution deal. To confound the suggestion that Chas and Dave only ever had chart success when a single was released on the back of some event or sponsor - 'Rabbit' was the soundtrack to another Courage commercial, Tottenham's FA Cup Final appearances brought two more hits and they teamed up with Barry Hearn's Matchroom clients for 'Snooker Loopy' - they had their biggest hit with 'Ain't No Pleasing You', a traditional rock'n'roll ballad, in which the frankness of Chas's accent gave the song its appeal.

But after those brief years of fame, during which they bought a pub in Stoke Newington, did a Christmas Day Special, and a series called Chas'n'Dave's Knees Up ('We had Eric Clapton,' says Dave, 'we got him out for the first time on the telly for about eight years'), Chas and Dave quickly made their way towards the file marked 'Where Are They Now?'

Today there are signs of a re-emergence. The duo are on Radio Two every Saturday evening, hosting a five-part variety show at the Starlight Suite in Enfield. According to Chas, 'Our manager said, 'How about suggesting to Radio 2 that we do a similar thing that we did on TV about 10 years ago, only for radio?' And that's exactly what we did. And we got hold of all the artists that we wanted ourselves and they said, 'Yeah, great, we'd love to do it'.' Those artists include Bobby Davro, the Searchers, Jim Davidson, Warren Mitchell, Max Bygraves and Joe Brown, with several of whom they go way back. They're currently touring with Brown, and next year Chas and Dave hope to see a musical they have written with Johnny Speight, Alf Garnett's scriptwriter, reach the West End. It's about the strife caused in a family when an East Ender cannot afford to bankroll his daughter's wedding because he has to pay for his father's funeral. 'Someone comes along with a bright idea,' says Chas. 'Why not have them on the same day? So that's when the fun starts.' Roy Hudd is keen to appear, as is Cheryl Baker, formerly of Bucks Fizz, now of Roy Castle's Record Breakers.

As for Chas and Dave, 'We did talk about it,' says Chas, 'but I think it would be too much of a commitment. We still like doing our gigs.'

'We're ever so busy,' says Dave. 'We don't stop. We might've been away from the charts but that's about it. Fair enough, people will say, 'Oh blimey, they haven't been on the telly lately.' But there's a lot of TV stuff we have turned down. We both work late at night and made a rule about four or five years ago to say we don't want anything before midday. In the early days we would burn the candle at both ends but we had to say no.'

Has this harmed them commercially?

'It might have done,' says Chas, 'but it hasn't harmed us moneywise. We would have been on television a lot more if we hadn't stuck to that rule, but then if we hadn't have stuck to that rule we might both be dead now from exhaustion.'

And they're well now?

'Yeah,' says Dave, 'we're well fit and well.'

'Chas and Dave - With Friends', Radio Two, Saturday at 6.00pm.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss