by Mick Patrick



'Downtown', 'Call Me', 'Joanna', 'Sugar And Spice', 'I Know A Place', 'Where Are You Now (My Love)', 'You're The One', 'Forget Him', 'Don't Sleep In The Subway' . . . There is no prize for knowing that what links these great titles is that each and every one was written by Tony Hatch, the subject of this brief career summary and a likely contender for Britain's top pop composer of the 1960s. A more complete list of his hit songs would fill several paragraphs such as this. Furthermore, the addition of the unforgettable themes for such TV shows as 'Crossroads', 'Sportsnight', 'Man Alive', 'Neighbours' and 'Emmerdale Farm' make Tony Hatch one of the most broadcast composers this country has ever known.

The British Bacharach, they called him. It is an epithet he surely deserves. Like his great American contemporary, Tony Hatch was also a recording artist in his own right, as well as a highly skilled arranger, conductor, musician and record producer. Bacharach might have had Dionne Warwick but Tony Hatch had Petula Clark. Together they were a perfect team, ruling the world of international pop music for many years with a series of million-selling singles and albums.

Anthony Peter Hatch was born in 1939, the first child of Cyril and Eileen Hatch. Highly musical from an early age, by 4 he was proficient on the piano and by 8 he was singing in the local church choir. His mother, also a pianist, enrolled him into the London Choir School in Bexley, Kent when he was 10. The boy Hatch was soon conducting the choir and composing hymns. His early ambition was to become a church or concert organist but as a young teenager he was bitten by the light music bug and began devouring the work of Mantovani, Melachrino and Frank Chacksfield.

He could have gone to study at The Royal Academy Of Music but on leaving school in 1955 he opted to go to work for Robert Mellin Music in the heart of London's Tin Pan Alley. As a pianist, his job included demonstrating the company's songs to singers and record producers. He also ran errands and made the tea. Before long he was writing songs and making himself known within the record business. The first Tony Hatch composition to be recorded was 'Crazy Bells', a B-side for the then unknown Gerry Dorsey (Engelbert Humperdinck) produced by Dick Rowe. When the high-powered Rowe joined the new Top Rank label, he enlisted Tony to join him as his assistant. Still a teenager, he was entrenched at a large record label. His many and varied duties included producing an album by the Band Of The Coldstream Guards. When he received his National Service call-up papers, it was that outfit's Director Of Music, Major Pope, who came to his aid. Tony Hatch spent the next three years as a musician with the Coldstream Guards, a role he was able to combine with a part-time position at Top Rank.

In 1959 he began his own recording career with a cover version of Russ Conway's piano instrumental 'Side Saddle'. He received great support for his songwriting at Top Rank; a successful early commission being 'Stork Talk', performed by the Mike Sammes Singers over the opening credits of the film of the same name. In 1960 Garry Mills' recording of Tony's composition 'Look For A Star' featured in the successful movie 'Circus Of Horrors', providing Top Rank with a Top 10 hit. Four versions of the song charted simultaneously in the USA. Tony also wrote and produced Mills' follow-up hit 'Top Teen Baby'.

Tony then secured a part-time post at Pye Records who placed him on a retainer until his discharge from the Army. Before 1960 was over he had produced 'Counting Teardrops' - a #4 hit for Emile Ford and the Checkmates - and assisted his new mentor Alan Freeman with the recording of 'Sailor', a #1 for Petula Clark. 'Warpaint', a Top 5 hit the following year, marked the first of a series of charting records Tony would produce for the Brook Brothers. Another early success was 'Messing About On The River', a turntable hit written and produced by him for Scottish folk singer Josh MacRae. Years later the song would be used in 'Wind In The Willows', the movie version of the book that had inspired Tony to write it. Tony also wrote the arrangements for such Lonnie Donegan recordings as 'The Comancheros' and 'The Party's Over'.

When his three-year stint as a Coldstream Guardsman was complete Tony joined Pye as a fulltime A & R man, immediately contracting Jimmy Justice, Mark Wynter and Julie Grant to the label. Justice's 1962 hits 'When My Little Girl Is Smiling', 'Ain't That Funny' and 'Spanish Harlem' were all Tony Hatch productions, as were 'Venus In Blue Jeans' and 'Go Away Little Girl' for Wynter, while Julie Grant registered with 'Up On The Roof', the first of her trio of Hatch-produced hits, early the following year. Tony also authored songs for these and many other Pye artists, frequently using the songwriting alias Mark Anthony. 1963 also found the Philadelphia teen idol Bobby Rydell high in the charts with the Hatch-written and produced 'Forget Him'. Tony would go on to produce, arrange and write for other American stars such as Big Dee Irwin, Keely Smith, Connie Francis and Pat Boone. He also continued with his own recording career, not as a Russ Conway wannabe but as leader of the Tony Hatch Orchestra. Encouraged by Pye's MD Louis Benjamin, a TV addict, he released versions of popular television themes like 'Ghost Squad', 'Ben Casey', 'Perry Mason' and 'Out Of This World', the latter a small hit in late 1962.

'Valentino' was the first Tony Hatch composition to be released by Petula Clark. Later in 1963 he assumed the mantle of her producer, masterminding a series of dynamic French-language recordings. Petula, married to a Frenchman, was massively popular all over Europe at the time. Tony also became one of her regular songwriting partners, in addition to supplying English words for many of the numbers Petula had penned with French lyricists. A year later he made his first trip to New York in search of new material for her. The visit inspired Tony to write the song 'Downtown'.

Meanwhile, he had gone on a Merseybeat talent quest to Liverpool and signed the Searchers. As their producer he took the group to #1 in the summer of 1963 with 'Sweets For My Sweet'. Their follow-up 'Sugar And Spice' was written by Tony using the nom-de-plume Fred Nightingale. 1964 found the Searchers in the charts with the jangly 'Needles And Pins', 'Don't Throw Your Love Away', 'Someday We're Gonna Love Again', 'When You Walk In The Room' and 'What Have They Done To The Rain', confirming the group as one of the most influential of their era. Tony would remain as their producer for their entire Pye tenure.

Our subject had written 'Downtown' with the American star Ben E. King in mind but when Petula Clark recorded the song she found herself instantly transformed into a huge international star, topping charts globally early in 1965. The year also yielded the remarkable series of hits 'I Know A Place', 'You'd Better Come Home', 'Round Every Corner' and 'You're The One', establishing Tony Hatch and Petula Clark as one of the most perfect pairings the world of pop had ever known.

In 1964 Tony was commissioned to write his first television theme, for the soap opera 'Crossroads'. It would become one of his best-known compositions. When asked to write a song to be featured in the Inspector Rose series 'It's Dark Outside', Tony delivered 'Where Are You Now?', with lyrics and vocals by recent Pye signee Jackie Trent. The song immediately clicked with the public and shot to #1 in the charts. 1965 also saw Tony supply the unforgettable themes for 'Sportsnight With Coleman' and 'Man Alive' and release his first album, the big budget 'The Tony Hatch Sound' featuring instrumental versions of some of his most famous songs alongside new compositions.

Petula Clark's remarkable run of hits continued with 'My Love', 'A Sign Of The Times', 'I Couldn't Live Without Your Love', 'Who Am I' and 'Colour My World', each one produced and written by Tony Hatch, the latter three with lyrics by Jackie Trent. Meanwhile, Chris Montez's cover of the Petula Clark B-side 'Call Me' had become the hit version of the song. 1966 was also marked by the release of two vastly different LPs, 'Latin Happening' by the Tony Hatch Sound, reflecting his huge affection for Brazilian music, and 'Showcase' by the Tony Hatch Singers & Swingers, an easy listening project with vocals by the Mike Sammes Singers.

Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent were married the following year. When their duet 'The Two Of Us' topped the Australian charts, the pair immediately found themselves in demand on the concert and cabaret stages, adding yet another dimension to Tony's career. He and Jackie, now known affectionately by the public as 'Mr & Mrs Music', also wrote Petula Clark's 1967 hits 'Don't Sleep In The Subway' and 'The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener'. 1968 proved to be particularly prolific with the release of the Tony Hatch Sound's 'Beautiful In The Rain' album, the 'Latin Velvet' and 'Cool Latin Sounds' long-players - both credited to the Tony Hatch Orchestra - plus 'The Two Of Us' and 'Live For Love', two collections of Tony and Jackie duets. Other memorable Hatch compositions of the year included Petula Clark's 'Don't Give Up' and 'American Boys', 'Memories Of Summer' (the theme for TV's 'Love Story') and Scott Walker's Top 10 hit 'Joanna', a very rare opportunity for Tony to work away from the Pye label. 'The Doctors', 'Codename', 'Backs To The Land', 'The Champions', 'Hadleigh' and 'Who-Dun-It' of the following year established Tony Hatch as an undisputed leader in the world of television themes. He saw out the 1960s with the release of the Tony Hatch Orchestra's 'Brasilia Mission' album and the 'Together Again' set by he and Jackie.

Following a decade as a Pye staffer, Tony spent the 1970s as an independent operator. His album releases continued with 'Sounds Of The Seventies' in 1970, his Burt Bacharach tribute 'What The World Needs Now' the following year, 'Hits Symphonic' in 1972 and 1974's 'Hit The Road To Themeland', culminating with the 'Ebb Tide' long-player of 1976, a TSOP-styled disco set credited to Love Sounds. Interspersed between these were the Tony & Jackie LPs 'Words & Music', 'Two For The Show' and 'Opposite Your Smile'. But Tony is best-remembered by many for the regular appearances as the somewhat sardonic panellist on TV's 'New Faces' that earned him the soubriquet 'The Hatchet Man'. He also returned to the charts as the producer of David Parton and the soul group Sweet Sensation, in addition to composing the themes for 'Emmerdale Farm' and 'Mr & Mrs' ('Be Nice To Each Other').

The 1970s also saw Tony and Jackie diversify into the world of musical theatre. The first of these projects, 'The Card', based on Arnold Bennett's novel, with book by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, ran in London's West End with Jim Dale and Millicent Martin in the starring roles. An original cast album was released in 1975. A rewritten version of the show, starring Peter Duncan and Hayley Mills, played the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in the 1990s and spawned a new cast album. The second Hatch/Trent musical was 'Rock Nativity', with book and lyrics by David Wood. Initiated and produced by Cameron Macintosh, it first played in Newcastle. An updated version of the show toured nationally in 1976 and was broadcast nationally by Scottish TV. A full-length concert version was also recorded at the Cork Opera House for transmission by RTE.

After delivering the score for the movie 'Sweeney 2' in 1978, Tony left the UK for a four-year residency in Dublin where he and Jackie hosted their own TV series 'Words And Music' and 'It's A Musical World'. He remained in the public eye by supplying the themes for the TV series 'Seagull Island' and 'Airline' before moving to Australia in 1982. He has been associated with the Variety Club since 1982, serving as president of the Australian branch and as International President. It was while down under that Tony and Jackie wrote what might be their most famous composition, the theme for the TV soap opera 'Neighbours'. The couple were the subjects of 'This Is Your Life' in 1991 but separated in 1995, divorcing 7 years later.

Recently, Tony Hatch found himself back in the public consciousness and the charts when the title track of his 'Sounds Of The Seventies' album was sampled and revamped as 'Before You Leave' by Pepe Deluxe for the Levi's Engineered Jeans ad campaign. Now resident in sunny Menorca in the Balearic Islands with new love Maggie at his side, and with the music he created in his heyday sounding as vital as it ever did, we find Tony Hatch eager to return to the contemporary recording medium. Let's hope that happens.

With thanks to Sam Szczepanski, Paul Bevoir, Kieron Tyler, Malcolm Baumgart, Richard Harries and the one and only Tony Hatch.

'Call Me: The Songs Of Tony Hatch' CD review:

"The Essential Tony Hatch" new 3CD set: http://www.allmusic.com/

Tony Hatch website: http://www.tonyhatch.com

Jackie Trent website: http://www.jackie-trent.org.uk/disc.html

Petula Clark website: http://www.petulaclark.net/

Presented by the Spectropop Team