Alan Hawkshaw: Grange Hill and Countdown composer dies aged 84on October 16, 2021 at 9:40 pm

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As well as his TV career, Alan Hawkshaw was in the Shadows and toured with the Rolling Stones.

Alan Hawkshaw

The musician who wrote the theme tunes for Grange Hill, Countdown, and Channel 4 News has died aged 84.

Alan Hawkshaw was also a member of The Shadows, toured with the Rolling Stones, and was sampled by Jay-Z.

He was admitted to hospital this week with pneumonia and died in the early hours of Saturday, his agent said.

His wife Christiane said: “It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to Alan, my husband of 53 years and the love of my life.”

She added: “We spent the last few hours gazing at each other with love, holding hands, no need for words.

“I told him he and I were forever, and even though he has been unable to speak for the past two months, he managed a few ‘forevers’ and I knew he was at peace.”

Hawkshaw wrote the music for more than 35 films and “countless” television programmes, his website said.

In the 1960s Hawkshaw was in rock’n’roll group Emile Ford & The Checkmates, which toured with the Rolling Stones.

He joined The Shadows in the 1970s and worked as Olivia Newton-John’s musical director, arranger and pianist.

He was awarded best arrangement by The American Academy of Arts and Sciences for Newton-John’s “I Honestly Love You”.

Hawkshaw was instrumental in a host of hits and worked with artists including Barbra Streisand, Tom Jones, Lulu and David Bowie.

Grange Hill class of 1980

A statement from talent agency DNA Music Limited called Hawkshaw “one of the most sampled musicians in the world”.

“Hip hop producers in particular have plundered Alan’s catalogue of works including the biggest of them all, Jay-Z with Pray which featured on the American Gangster album,” it said.

“Alan would often joke, ‘I’m one of the oldest rap artists in the world.’

“He also famously said of Streisand, ‘Barbara held this song of mine eight years until I sent her a note via one of her lawyers saying please record it before one of us dies.'”

She went on to record his song Why Let It Go.

In 2004, in association with the Performing Rights Society, he set up The Alan Hawkshaw Foundation.

The scholarship programme funded over 70 scholarships at the Leeds College of Music, now the Leeds Conservatoire, and the National Film & Television School.

Hawkshaw, who was from Leeds, also underwrote the Radlett Junior Tennis Tournament, in the Hertfordshire town where he lived and, according to his website, donated 10% of his income to less well-off people.

Alan Hawkshaw

Image source, Kirsty Hawkshaw

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