Tag Archives: pop

almost top of the pops – hot chocolate

(A look at bands / artists, who this day in The ‘70s were ALMOST Top of the Pops.)

3rd April 1974

Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate – ‘Emma.’

It started with a miss …

In 1969, friends Errol Brown and Tony Wilson decided to form a band. Based in Brixton, London, the singer and bass player initially brought in Franklin de Allie (guitar) Larry Ferguson (keyboards) Ian King (drums) and Patrice Olive (congas.)

Their first official release was quite fortuitous: the band prepared a demo to hawk around the record companies – a reggae tinged version of John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace A Chance.

Errol had changed some of the lyrics, only to be subsequently told he could not do so without Lennon’s express permission. And so it was more in hope than expectation that the, as yet unnamed, band submitted the demo to The Beatles‘ label, Apple

As it happened, Lennon loved the version and the track was released, under the band’s label-given name of The Hot Chocolate Band.

It bombed.

Here’s why.

The Hot Chocolate Band: ‘Give Peace A Chance.’

Towards the end of the year, Mickie Most of the RAK label, signed Errol and Tony as songwriters and they went from strength to strength, penning songs for likes of Mary Hopkins, Julie Felix and even Herman’s Hermits.

Come 1970, and it was Mickie who pushed Errol and Tony into writing material for their own band, whose name had by now been shortened to the more familiar, Hot Chocolate.

‘Love Is Life’ was a pretty good opening effort, reaching #6 in the UK charts that summer. Who could possibly have thought then that this song would herald a fifteen year period in which the band would score a hit in each consecutive year – the only group in the UK to have done so.

Their brand of pop /soul / disco with heavier beats and percussion was very unique and became hugely popular over the years.

Hot Chocolate

Including re-issues, Hot Chocolate amassed a staggering 35 hits prior to the turn of the century. In doing so, they became part of the nation’s musical fabric, permeating the subconscious and being admired by many who would normally listen to other styles of music.

They are not a band I myself would have considered a ‘favourite’ but looking through the list of hits, I realise just how much I did / do enjoy them – this one being the stand-out for me. From August 1971, I recollect it (well, a session musicians version) being on a Top of the Pops compilation that I played to death;

‘I Believe (In Love)’ – peaked at #8 in the summer of 1971
This one!

Amazingly, the band only recorded one #1 hit – ‘So You Win Again‘ in 1977, but as with so many others over the years, this week in 1974 saw Hot Chocolate ALMOST Top of the Pops.

Hot Chocolate – Emma.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie” Jackson from Glasgow – April 2022)

almost top of the pops – ashton, gardner & dyke

(A look at bands / artists, who this day in The ‘70s were ALMOST Top of the Pops.)

14th March 1971

ASHTON, GARDNER & DYKE.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke.
Ashton, Gardner & Dyke on Top of the Pops

Hanging on to their Top Ten status, but only just, Ashton Gardner and Dyke were this week in 1971 heading back down the UK chart with ‘Resurrection Shuffle,’ never to darken the Top 40 again.

Forever since saddled with the ‘one hit wonder’ moniker, piano / keyboard player Tony Ashton, bassist Kim Gardner and drummer Roy Dyke had so much more to offer.

Formed in 1968 as what could be termed a ‘supergroup,’ they released six singles and four albums in their five years together, one of which was soundtrack to the 1971 film ‘The Last Rebel,’ about American football star, Joe Nemeth.

Formerly with The Remo Four (Ashton and Dyke) and The Birds**(Gardner) the band had pedigree, and covered various styles and genres from R&B, to soul , to blues rock and jazz rock. This however would ironically prove their eventual downfall.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke – brilliant, but this perhaps illustrates why prospective fans were a bit bemused! (Almost Alex Harvey-esque, I think.)

The intention was to make their mark as an ‘album’ band, but the success of their fourth single, ‘Resurrection Shuffle’ actually backfired, with crowds turning up at their shows expecting much of the same, and leaving a tad bemused by the multi-genres played.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke: ‘Mister Freako’ – the band’s third single and pre-cursor to ‘Resurrection Shuffle.’

Poor album sales forced the band to consider their future in 1973, the outcome being to call it a day.

Tony Ashton moved on to play with Medicine Head, then briefly also with Family before teaming up with Deep Purple’s Jon Lord to release a couple of singles. This would be a precursor to hooking up with another of Deep Purple’s number, Ian Paice in Paice, Ashton & Lord.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke with the title track from their fourth and final album, 1972’s ‘What A Bloody Long Day It’s Been.’

Resurrection Shuffle’ peaked at #3 in the UK Charts, a position it maintained for two weeks, and for a while, back in February 1971, Ashton, Gardner and Dyke were ALMOST Top of the Pops.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke: ‘Resurrection Shuffle.’

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – March 2022)

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(** The Birds were a British R&B band, formerly known as The Thunderbirds and counted within their ranks, one Ronnie Wood who would go on to do alright for himself. Following a legal dispute with the American Byrds, they changed their name in 1966 to Birds Birds.)