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.

News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
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

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin