One of my fondest memories since the birth of my daughter is the summers I spent in my Grandpa’s garage listening to Chas and Dave. As a London-born boy Chas and Dave, also known as Chas & Dave, had a very cockney working-class sound to them, which appealed to my Grandpa, and his Grandpa’s heart. We also for some reason for the last five years have watched the Chas and Dave’s Christmas Knees-up, at Christmas of course and I think it’s going to become a tradition of mine. They cultivated a career out of making fun upbeat songs and also writing one of the greatest love songs ever made.
How Did Chas & Dave Become Rockney Heros?
Chas and Dave were a British pop rock duo who formed in London in the early 70s and created the musical style known as Rockney. Yes, that’s right, Rockney, a portmanteau of rock and cockney, which combines traditional pub singalong, music-hall humor, boogie-woogie piano, and pre-Beatles rock ‘n’ roll.
The duo that would go on to become Chas & Dave were born Charles Nicholas Hodges (28 December 1943 – 22 September 2018) and David Victor Peacock (24 May 1945) meeting for the first time in 1963. They wouldn’t start writing together until almost a decade later after the two had been a part of other bands.
Chas was a part of The Outlaws and Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers while Dave played in The Tumbleweeds. After this, the pair would be reunited in Black Claw and joined by Mick Burt, who would join Chas & Dave later on. Black Claw wouldn’t last long and after Hodges joined Heads Hands & Feet, toured America, and returned to the UK wanting to finally sing in his own accent. He felt that it was unauthentic of him to sing to an American audience with a faux American accent.
I was singing in an American accent. I thought, ‘You’re being a fraud, you should sing in your own accent’, and that’s when I started to work on the idea.Chas Hodges
Heads Hands & Feet would split in 1972 leaving the door open for Hodges to propose forming a band with Peacock. And finally, after over a decade Chas & Dave, the duo, was born. They considered being called Chubby, I am glad I’m not sitting here talking about Chubby.
Recording their first album in 1974, One Fing ‘n’ Anuvver would be released the following year. Burt would join as their drummer in 1976 but they would still be billed as a duo, despite being a trio. The following year Chas & Dave would sign with EMI and their second album Rockney would be released onto the world in 1978. Strummin’ was their first song to reach the UK chart with Woortcha!, from their first album, being used in a television commercial in 1979.
Chas & Dave would go on to open for Led Zeppelin at the 1979 Knebworth Festival on 4th and 11th August. In their 45 years as a band, they released 15 studio albums and 43 albums in total. Mike Burt retired from the band in 2011, being replaced by Nik Hodges, Chas’ son. Burt passed away on 18th October 2014, and Chas would pass away on 22 September 2018 from Pneumonia which was a complication of Cancer. This would effectively end the band as Dave couldn’t continue without Chas and he had also originally planned to retire in 2009 after the death of his wife Sue.
Their legacy can be felt throughout the industry, inspiring and later supporting The Libertines on tour. Eminem sampled the hook of Labi Siffre’s I Got The… which Chas and Dave played guitar and bass on. The Streets have continued the tradition of using rhyming slang in their music, just like Chas & Dave. The duo placed an acoustic set at Glastonbury in 2005 and then again in 2007. They also played Rebellion Festival, VE Day 70: A Party to Remember, and performed their hit song Rabbit on Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.
4 Chas and Dave Songs That I Love
As I’ve talked about before Chas & Dave hold a special place in my heart. They are the sound of my summer and also Christmas time, on occasion. They make me smile and cry and also laugh. They remind me of my Grandpa and his silly stories, his history, his love of music, and our deep conversations. These songs and there are so many more to listen to and delve into, but these 4 are the ones that are the most important to me.
#4. Rabbit | Album: Don’t Give a Monkey’s | 1980
Rabbit peaked at No.8 on the UK Singles Chart and is most definitely not about any kind of rabbit. For those who don’t know rabbit actually comes from Cockney rhyming slang, which takes something like Apple & Pears = Stairs.
So Rabbit comes from rabbit & pork = talk. Another term such as rabbiting also means someone who won’t stop talking. Rhyming slang originated in the East End of London during the 1800s. In traditional Londerner style, this song talks about the things Chas and Dave would have seen growing up in that environment. The song is about a relationship between a man and a woman, in which the man expresses his love for his girlfriend, but complains that she will not stop talking.
You’ve got more rabbit than Sainsbury’sThis line is from a common saying during WWII about rabbits being sold with their heads & tails to make sure the local butcher wasn’t selling you a cat. Rationing sucked and lasted well into the 1950s.
#3. London Girls | Album: Job Lot | 1983
London Girls was released on 13th February 1983 and entered the UK Singles Chart at No.99 peaking at No.63. I really love this song, I don’t know why but it’s a goof cheery pub song. A lot of the lyrics talk about how London Girls are, as we would say nowadays’ “wifey material”.
Part of me, as a feminist, finds some of the lyrics, out of context a little uncomfortable but in saying that Chas & Dave really do make fun of that kind of thing. Despite them listing in the song all the things that a man likes about women, like cleaning and cooking they make the point of saying that the women of London town are beautiful just how they are. Oh, and they will definitely go for a pint with you. It’s a fun song really.
if you ever go down to london town, your legs will turn to jelly
cos the girls down there i swear are just like models off the telly
but they dont need no make up, they look good as they are
and they’ve always got a pound to buy a round
when its their turn at the bar
#2. Ain’t No Pleasing You | Album: Mustn’t Grumble | 1982
It always makes me smile knowing that when my Nan annoyed my Grandpa that this was her song. He had more romantic songs like Arms of Mary and If You Don’t Know Me By Now by Simply Red, but I think everyone has that one song for when the love of their life is being sarcastic and stubborn. They are both like that, you gotta love an Aquarius/Pisces Leo/Virgo cusp love story.
“It’s difficult to say. “Ain’t No Pleasing You” reached number two and is the most played. It was also the biggest achievement because I wrote it. For some hits, like “Rabbit”, we wrote together but this one was on my own, although I made sure Dave was happy with it every step of the way.Chas Hodges
#1. Wish I Could Write A Love Song | Album: Job Lot | 1982
Wish I Could Write A Love Song is my favorite Chas & Dave song and the one that reminds me of my Grandpa the most, we even played it at his funeral. I cried, a lot and I haven’t listened to it since, but in my opinion, it is one of the greatest love songs ever written. This was the song that we always listened to together discussing how beautiful the track is. He would often say that he was bad with words and he wished he could tell my nan how he felt about her, he did tell her and I also helped by choosing this song. If you have the time please listen to it.
Is it that I feel silly
When I let my feelings show
Or am I afraid to give too much
In case one day you go