Alan Hawkshaw, composer who wrote the Grange Hill and Countdown theme tunes and worked with David Bowie – obituary

Hawkshaw’s work has been used by countless musicians, ranging from his own band the Mohawks, the first of hundreds of bands to record The Champ, to American rapper Jay-Z, who sampled his 1977 composition New Earth Parts 1 & 2 – written with Hank Marvin – for his track Pray on the #1 album American Gangster (2007). He recalled asking his daughter who “Jay Zed” was, later joking, “I’m one of the oldest rap artists in the world.”

Much of his music was written for the KPM library. It was composed for a brief, later to be licensed for commercial use, and can also be heard on Milk Tray commercials and as themes for Dave Allen at Large and Channel 4 News, the latter played on piccolo trumpet . But the popularity of The Champ left him perplexed. “I much prefer my orchestral stuff,” he told the Guardian. “I’ll never understand why anyone makes fun of three notes I play on an organ for The Champ.”

William Alan Hawkshaw, known as “The Hawk”, was born in the Meanwood area of ​​Leeds city center on March 27, 1937, the youngest of four sons of piano-playing Walter Hawkshaw and his wife Lillian (née Parker); one of his brothers played euphonium in the Salvation Army band. As a child, he learned to play the piano by ear, recalling that the idea of ​​studying music had never been considered.

Comments are closed.