Monday, May 14, 2018

Tony Hatch (featuring Jackie Trent 1940 - 2015)

Anthony Peter Hatch was born in 1939 in Pinner, Middlesex. As a child he was musically gifted and aged 10 went to the London Choir School in Bexley, Kent. He left school in 1955 and as a young teenager worked as a teaboy with Robert Mellin Music in London's Tin Pan Alley. After he started writing songs he soon made a name for himself and joined Top Rank Records. There he worked with Dick Rowe and after completing his National Service in 1959, he began producing Top Rank artists such as Bert Weedon, a young Adam Faith, Josh MacRae, Jackie Dennis, and The Knightsbridge Strings.

Tony released his first single Side Saddle (a cover of Russ Conway’s Number 1 hit) in 1959, but it failed to chart. “Look for a star” was written by Tony and recorded by Garry Mills and when it featured in Circus of Horrors (1960) the single became a Top Ten hit in the UK. Four versions of the song, including the original, also charted simultaneously in the United States. In 1961 started working part-time with Pye Records, there he assisted Alan A. Freeman, in the production of Petula Clark’s number one hit "Sailor". Sometimes Tony Hatch wrote under the pseudonym 'Mark Anthony', and in 1961 had a hit with "Messing About on the River" for Josh MacRae. In 1962 he wrote the film music for Stork Talk and his orchestra played the theme for the TV series "Ghost Squad" (ITC ).

At Pye, Tony continued to produce many of their artists including: Mark Wynter, Julie Grant, Benny Hill, and Miki & Griff.

In 1963, he wrote and produced Bobby Rydell’s "Forget Him", which gave the teen idol his last US hit (#4 in the Hot 100) . This American success allowed Tony to produce, arrange and write (often with Jackie Trent (sometimes) uncredited) for many other American stars such as Big Dee Irwin and Chubby Checker (It’s my birthday 1964): and Connie Francis (Roundabout 1965),among many others.

He adapted well to the impending English Invasion and while still at Pye he signed the Searchers in 1963. Under the pseudonym, Fred Nightingale , he wrote the Searchers' hit "Sugar and Spice". For the next three years the group became an international success with many top ten hits. The production of the entire Searchers catalog was issued in stereo, which at the time was most unusual. Hatch encouraged the group to use well-balanced vocal harmonies and melodic guitars, sometimes played on 12-string guitars. This unique sound was eagerly copied by the emerging folk-rock genre. Tony Hatch recorded similar harmonies with a variety of groups, including; The Settlers’ "Major to Minor" (1967); and "Run to Me" by The Montanas.

By now Petula Clark was a Pye artist and in 1963 she recorded Valentino, written by Mark Anthony (aka Tony Hatch). The song failed to chart but did cement the professional association between composer and artist. After a trip to New York in 1964, he wrote "Downtown", a song he thought would suit The Drifters. After Petula Clark heard a rough draft she was eventually convinced to record the finished song. “Downtown” became a huge international hit and revitalised her sagging career. It reached number one on the American pop charts making the English rose the first British woman to ever achieve this. In the following year, the Hatch - Clark coupling yielded a remarkable series of hits "I Know a Place" (1965), "You'd Better Come Home" (1965), and "Round Every Corner" (1965). Together they wrote "You're The One", which became a major hit for The Vogues.

More success followed with the number one smash "My Love," (1965), "A Sign of the Times" (1965),"I Couldn't Live Without Your Love," (1966) I Couldn't Live Without Your Love" (1966), "Who Am I?", (1966) "Colour My World" (1966). "Call Me," (1966) and "A Sign of the Times," (1966). All sold well and were written by Hatch . "Don't Sleep in the Subway" (1967) and "The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener" (1968) followed into the international hit parades and were composed by Tony Hatch and co-writer Jackie Trent.

Following the initial success with Petula Clark, Tony Hatch repeated the winning formula writing and producing for many other similar performers. His formulaic middle of the road style possessed much of the energy of rock & roll without the confrontational nature of more aggressive beat groups and fell between teen and adult pop. Cover versions of some of his more successful hits including "Call Me", by Chris Montez became best sellers in their own right. Tony Hatch continued to record various lounge style albums with his orchestra and featured instrumental versions of some of his best known songs, He also made some solo recordings as both singer and piano player.

1964, was a busy year for the composer who was commissioned to write the theme tune for a new soap opera Crossroads (ATV). The original was based on two tunes to represent the plot of two rival characters The tunes could be played separately or, because they shared the same chord sequence, together in counterpoint with each other. Meg’s theme was played on a 12-string guitar with Kitty’s theme played on the oboe. The theme Crossroads started with a distinctive 9-note motif which made it by far the most distinctive TV themes of the 60s. .

Tony Hatch composed other television themes throughout the 60s, including the themes to Man Alive (1965), the cult series The Champions (1968), the crime anthology series Who-Dun-It (1969), and The Doctors (1969).

As a staff producer at Pye Records, Tony Hatch worked with many artists including a young David Bowie. In 1966, he produced three singles none of which proved successful. The piano section in "Can't Help Thinking About Me," was taken straight out of Petula Clark's "Downtown."

When Jackie Trent (1940 – 2015) was signed to Pye Records, she and Tony Hatch wrote “Where Are You Now (My Love)" in 1964. The song featured in a the popular Granada TV series Inspector Rose episode, Dark Outside, and Jackie Trent appeared in the program and sang the song. This exposure ensured "Where Are You Now" reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in 1965. "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love" was later written by Hatch and Trent and inspired by their romantic association, the song became a hit for Petula Clark in 1966. The couple were married a year later and their duet, "The Two Of Us" topped the Australian charts and created a demand for concert and cabaret performances from "Mr & Mrs Music". Jackie did complete several singles and albums, both as a solo artist and with her husband, but these would not aspire to the same success of her previous works. Instead Jackie Trent was more successful as a songwriter and she and Hatch wrote extensively for other artists, including Petula Clark, Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Nancy Wilson, Des O'Connor, Val Doonican (What Would I Be?), Shirley Bassey, Vikki Carr, and Dean Martin. In 1968 the couple wrote the Number One hit, "Joanna" for Scott Walker.

By the middle of the sixties Tony Hatch was again busy writing for TV and composed music for BBC’s Quiz ball (1966); Best in Football (1967),and the series Codename (BBC 1969).Trent and Hatch also composed incidental music for The Persuaders! (1970).

In 1972, they wrote "We'll Be With You" to celebrate Stoke City Football Club reaching the Football League Cup final in 1972. The song featured the team and supporters and was released under the name, 'The Potters' (the club's nickname). The song reached number 34 on the UK charts and Stoke beat Chelsea F.C. 2–1 in the final. "We'll Be With You", is still played at all Stoke City home games. In the same year more television work came with commissions from ITV for the themes for the soap, Emmerdale Farm and the opening music for popular game show, Mr & Mrs. 1972 also say the score for the film , Travels with My Aunt.

In 1973, Hatch and Trent sidestepped into musical theatre with The Card, based on an Arnold Bennett novel, and written Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, starring with Jim Dale, Elenor Bron, and Millicent Martin. The production ran in London's West End for 130 performances. They also wrote a Rock Nativity for Christmas, with book and lyrics by David Wood. Initiated and produced by Cameron Mackintosh, the show played in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1975, with an updated version in 1976, broadcast nationally by Scottish TV. A full-length concert version was recorded at the Cork Opera House for the Irish television state broadcaster RTÉ.

Very much in demand in 1973, the songwriters penned more TV themes with Hadleigh (Yorkshire Television -Third Series ), Love Story, and BBC’s Sportsnight .

They scored the sequel movie from the television spin off of the Sweeney in 1976, TV theme for ITV’s comedy Backs to the Land (Anglia Television 1977) ; and in the same year were commissioned to write the closing number for the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show (the most popular television program in the UK) , they came up with ‘Positive Thinking.’

In 1975, Tony Hatch joined the panel of New Faces (ATV) talent show. A prelude to the X Factor and other modern panels shows, the judging panel were often unnecessarily hard and scathing in their comments to participants.

In the three years he was associated with the program he became one of the most disliked fellows on television. Acrid comments and cruel observation ensured the once pin up boy of UK music soon became the meanest talent show judge British television had ever seen. He and fellow panelist Mickie Most vied each week to become the most vilified, encouraged by the program owners, to make good viewing. He was never physically attacked but he had to be escorted to safety on at least one occasion. Whist Tony Hatch still believes he was being realistic with his criticisms, his on screen behaviour did not endear him to the great British public. Outspoken critic he may have been but he could also spot talent and under his guidance a Manchester eight piece soul group called Sweet Sensation signed to Pye Records. Their debut single "Snowfire" failed to reach the charts, but the follow-up "Sad Sweet Dreamer" was a UK number one single in October 1974, reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 the following year. The songs were written by David Parton and co-produced by Tony Hatch. Both Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent sang on the track to augment Sweet Sensation. Tony Hatch left the New Faces program in 1978.

He and Jackie moved to Dublin, where they hosted TV shows (Words And Music and It's A Musical World) for the next four years. They also continued to produce music for TV, including: Secret of Seagull Island (Five Episodes 1981) , Airline (Yorkshire Television 1982), Waterloo Station (Nine Network, Australia 1983) and Black in blue (1988).

In 1982 the couple moved to Australia and soon ingratiated themselves into the entertainment industry. They had previously made many visits to Australia before and had worked with Australian artists including the popular entertainer, Don “Lanky Yank” Lane. They wrote "Your Everything" which gave him a big Australian hit in 1969. The couple were asked by Reg Grundy, to write a theme for a new soap called Ramsay Street. They came up with Neighbours instead as Ramsay Street, they thought, was too close to Coronation Street. The theme was written and recorded in a day and Barry Crocker put his voice on it. The producers liked it so much the soap was renamed Neighbours. Throughout the 80s Hatch and Trent became regular fixtures in the social pages performing at Carols by Candlelight, doing charity work for the Variety Club and enjoying late-night sessions around the piano with their friends Maria Venuti and Barry Crocker.

Tony Hatch was by far Britain's most prolific pop song writer (with Jackie Trent), producer and performer of the last century. He was also a womaniser and eventually his affairs caused himself and Jackie Trent to separate in 1995. Jackie returned to Britain and worked for a short period before moving to Menorca in semi-retirement. The couple were divorced in 2002. Jackie never quite got over the breakup and subsequent legal action over a dispute between them as songwriters. After a long illness she died in 2015. Tony Hatch now lives on the same island with his third wife. In 2016, Tony Hatch attended the inaugural Variety Hall of Fame Awards, with Petula Clark.

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