Will the Real Chas ‘n’ Dave Please Stand Up

I found out something the other day about one of my favourite songs that blew my mind: cheeky cockney duo Chas ‘n’ Dave were part of the backing band for Labi Siffre’s ‘I Got The…’.

The studio musicians on the track being in full:

  • Chas Hodges: guitar
  • Dave Peacock: bass
  • Ian Wallace: drums
  • Labi Siffre: electric piano

What then makes this even more incredible is that Eminem sampled the song for ‘My Name Is’, meaning the chirpy twosome feature as backing band there too.

Quite how obscure this info is, is debatable; after all, it’s mentioned in the song’s Wikipedia page: ‘as a bass and guitar riff by British pop rock duo Chas & Dave.’

That said, it apparently isn’t as accurate as it should be:

Chances are some reading this have never heard of Chas ‘n’ Dave, which isn’t surprising given the London-centric nature of their songs. Take ‘Rabbit’, a song that complains about someone being lovely in just about every way but for their constant talking.

‘What the Hell have rabbits got to do with anything?’ you may well be asking.

It’s cockney rhyming slang for talk; a language that works by finding a memorable combination of words where one rhymes with the word to be disguised and then uses the word from the combination that doesn’t. Examples:

  • Rabbit and pork / rabbit = talk
  • Butcher’s hook / butcher’s = look
  • Ruby Murray / Ruby = curry
  • Vera Lynn / Vera = rolling paper (skin)

In the song ‘Margate’ the Londoner’s traditional love of taking short trips to the seaside is immortalized.

Brighton was always my beach of choice; and there I am in the image below at either the 1986 or 87 Rocker’s Reunion Run participating in the throw the scooter frame competition; legendary London rocker and event organiser Lenny Paterson urging me on via a loud hailer.


I hold my hands up and confess that when young I didn’t think much of Chas ‘n’ Dave; a bit of an old fashioned comedy act that if anything I found a bit irritating (I’m just being honest!).

But then in 1984 Status Quo announced splitting up and the ‘End of the Road’ farewell tour, the penultimate stop of which was at Selhurst Park football ground, home of Crystal Palace FC and also me at the time as I lived on Holmesdale Road; the ‘home end’ of the ground.

Despite being into rock and metal, I’m not the biggest Quo fan. But it was only a few doors down the road, one of my mates at school loved them and it would be the last chance ever to see them (at least that was the story; Quo were soon back together and touring again).

There were five bands on the bill:

  • Chas ‘n’ Dave
  • Dave Edmunds
  • Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul
  • Grand Slam (Phil Lynott’s band after Thin Lizzy)
  • Status Quo

It was an ‘all dayer’ and given such (being a farewell gig to boot) not cheap. I remember it being £25 a ticket, a monumental amount of money that took some convincing of parents before they’d buy the tickets for us (four or five of us went in the end).

540x360_c1000_800Thanks to the net, writing something like this can be quite revealing with respects one’s memory, for the images of tickets, flyers and posters (as shown) found online reveal the price as a significantly less £9.50.

That doesn’t sound like too much even for then. 1984 was the year I started trying to get served in pubs (and a couple of years later had progressed to throwing scooter frames about on Brighton beach). A pint was just under a pound then whereas an average today is a fiver, by which measure the ticket would now be £50, a surprisingly low price for five acts on a farewell tour. Still, I remember it being a monumental ask and parents even conferring on the phone to decide if it represented value for money.

It certainly speaks volumes for how concert prices have risen; on top of which, in the UK they are as standard twice the comparative price of North America (the same goes for merch too!).

Another internet surprise was to find Chas ‘n’ Dave listed as only playing three songs: ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You’; ‘Gertcha’; ‘The Bollocks Song’. That said, the same sources have nothing available for Dave Edmunds and elsewhere a photo of set times from the programme shows Chas ‘n’ Dave’s as forty-five minutes.

While ‘The Bollocks Song’ definitely went on for a bit given the crowd’s enthusiasm for it, it certainly wasn’t for thirty minutes . . . was it?

I remember parts of ‘The Bollocks Song’ vividly. I was fourteen, just a few doors up the road from where I lived and in a crowd of thousands all shouting bollocks in unison. It was Heaven, and while the rest of the set is a bit hazy in the memory, I’m sure it involved more than two other songs. Either way the place was rocking from the second they took to the stage to the moment they left, the reaction from the crowd the best of the day by far in my opinion.

It was an education, my mind completely changed about Chas ‘n’ Dave (though, to be fair, 1986’s ‘Snooker Loopy‘ did cause a slight setback). The footage below is the only found where the audience participation can be  heard; now just imagine it all taking place in a packed football ground!

An unusual line-up?

With hindsight I wonder if all that parental conferencing was actually a sign of music savvy not realised by us kids. 

It wasn’t the same as for the alleged last gig at Milton Keynes’ Bowl, a location causing a bit of stink as it meant their last live show would be outside London; something that at the time was apparently considered a big deal.

Literally no one had heard of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul (Steven Van Zandt) and they didn’t go down well with the crowd to the point of being booed, getting stuff lobbed at them and leaving the stage early. Regardless of how good they may or may not actually be, it wasn’t the time or place to try announce it.

In contrast the ‘new US band that no one had heard of’ at Milton Keynes was Jason and the Scorchers, and it more appropriately opened proceedings (though apparently still met a likewise fate).

Dave Edmunds was solid enough, though it should be said that even his Wikipedia page gives his genre as ‘pub rock’. And while I feel humbled to have seen Phil Lynott live, no one knew at the time that he was to pass away the following year, and so the presence of Grand Slam—terrible name for a band unless tennis themed btw—playing a ‘set’ of their own songs and a couple of Thin Lizzy’s when they hadn’t even released a record seems a bizarre choice for main support.

At Milton Keynes these slots were filled by Marillion and Nazareth, something also reflected in the greater £12.50 price tag, though the audience there didn’t get the immense pleasure of Chas ‘n’ Dave as the ‘novelty act’. No, they got the recently-released-from-prison-today Gary Glitter instead.

The Selhurst Park gig is today considered infamous, in much part due to Rossi passing out thanks to too much charlie and tequila before anyone had set a foot on stage.

I went for the Status Quo (kinda) but left with a place in my heart for Chas ‘n’ Dave.

Chas Hodges sadly passed away 22nd September, 2018, R.I.P..  

Below footage from the gig interspersed with members of Quo talking about it. Crazy seeing Selhurst Park looking like that again. Making it more poignant I put the finishing touches to this while watching the match last night. It wasn’t until someway though the first half that it dawned. It was Crystal Palace vs Liverpool,  Selhurst Park as it is today was live on the TV, while I looked at it in 84 online. 

Header image is a combination of Chas ‘n’ Dave at Let’s Rock Bristol, 6th June, 2015, by Andrew D. Hurley, an Eminem png file from pngmart, plus some text bubbles and text added by me. Read more about my first ventures into pubs and where that took me musically in Meeting Edgar Broughton.

Thanks for reading 🙂

N. P. Ryan

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