Mike Hawker: Songwriter who won an Ivor Novello for 'Walkin' Back To Happiness', and also wrote for Dusty Springfield

 

Primarily a lyricist, Mike Hawker won an Ivor Novello Award for his song "Walkin' Back To Happiness", a No 1 in 1961 for Helen Shapiro. Two years later he wrote Dusty Springfield's first solo single, "I Only Want To Be With You".

Although Hawker was born in Bath in 1936, his father was an RAF officer stationed in Singapore. His first years were spent there but the family returned to the UK after the Japanese invasion and settled with an aunt in Barnsley.

Hawker went to university and followed it with three years as a junior officer in the RAF. While in Europe, he saw American jazzmen who, because of a dispute with the Musician's Union, were not allowed to perform in the UK. He reviewed their concerts for New Musical Express and Jazz Journal, and when he left the RAF he worked in EMI's publicity department before joining the impresario Larry Parnes to promote his artists. In 1960 he wrote "Honey, That's Alright" for Parnes' artist Sally Kelly and nursed dreams of being a professional songwriter.

Hawker was lodging with an EMI employee, John Schroeder, who was the assistant to their key producer, Norrie Paramor. Schroeder had discovered Helen Shapiro, a 14-year-old schoolgirl with a deep voice, and Paramor told him to find suitable material. Schroeder had written a catchy melody with a strong, defiant chord, and Hawker saw how he could write a lyric about teenage angst, "Don't Treat Me Like A Child", which became a Top 3 single.

Hawker had his own angst as he had set his sights upon a red-headed beauty in the Vernons Girls, Jean Ryder. He and Schroeder wrote a jazz ballad around his feelings, "You Don't Know", which was Shapiro's first No 1 and although the song is still well-known, it also deserves to be a jazz standard.

They followed it with "Walkin' Back To Happiness", the recording of which was the subject of a cinema short in the Rank Organisation's series Look At Life. In 1962 he and Schroeder wrote another Top 10 single for Shapiro, "Little Miss Lonely", and in 1963 Shapiro sang their song "Look Who It Is" to the Beatles on ITV's Ready Steady Go!

When Dusty Springfield left the Springfields, she wanted to make an impact with her first single, and Hawker and her musical director, Ivor Raymonde, wrote "I Only Want To Be With You", the title reflecting Mike's feelings for Jean, whom he had married in December 1961. After leaving the Vernons Girls, Jean sang with Maggie Stredder as the Two-Tones, but left the business to raise their children, Sarah (born in 1964) and Andy (born in 1966).

"I Only Want To Be With You" became Hawker's most lasting composition and there have been successful revivals from the Bay City Rollers (1976), the Tourists (1979) and Samantha Fox (1989). The song has also been featured in numerous films; Springfield called her a record a cross between Gerry and the Pacemakers and Carole King.

The same team wrote the follow-up "Stay Awhile", which was the closest anyone in Britain had come to copying Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. They wrote the plaintive ballad "I Wish I'd Never Loved You" for the third single, but Springfield favoured the Bacharach and David song "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself". Springfield recorded another of their songs, "Your Hurtin' Kinda Love" (1965), an excellent ballad which only scraped into the Top 40.

Hawker wrote songs for many female artists of the 1960s including Susan Maughan, Jackie Trent, Glenda Collins, Julie Rogers, Maureen Evans and Shapiro's cousin, Susan Singer, although in all cases without chart success. He had songs recorded by the Karl Denver Trio and Matt Monro and reached the American performers Eydie Gorme and Jimmy Gilmer. His more bizarre compositions include "Men Will Deceive You" for the actress Honor Blackman; "Humpity Dumpity", a ridiculous twist song for Gene Vincent; and "Grotty" for Ivor Raymonde and his Orchestra.

Hawker wrote several songs with Brian Bennett of the Shadows, including the hit single, "Help It Along" (1973) for Cliff Richard. He had many jobs in the industry, notably signing the British jazz musicians Tubby Hayes and Harry South to Mercury, which brought the approval of the label's American executive, Quincy Jones. He recognised Paul Simon's talent on his first visit to the UK but he was too late to do anything about it, and he discovered the singer/songwriter Labi Siffre.

Hawker had a series of serious illnesses in the last years of his life. His aim was to learn Romanian so that he could speak to his granddaughter in her first language.

SPENCER LEIGH

Michael Edwin Hawker, lyricist and songwriter: born Bath 29 November 1936; married Jean Ryder (marriage dissolved; one daughter, one son); partner to Mar Bernabeu; died 4 May 2014.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker