Acclaimed composer Alan Hawkshaw passed away this weekend at the age of 84. Hawkshaw was best known for writing and recording many of the most iconic theme songs in the TV and movie industries. His agent told reporters from the BBC that he died in the early hours of Saturday morning due to complications with pneumonia.
Hawkshaw was reportedly hospitalized earlier this week with pneumonia and succumbed to the illness on Saturday, Oct. 16. He had turned 84 years old back in March and is survived by his wife Christiane, who issued a statement to reporters. "It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to Alan, my husband of 53 years and the love of my life," she said. "We spent the last few hours gazing at each other with love, holding hands, no need for words."
RIP Alan Hawkshaw, who composed some of the most iconic theme tunes in British TV history - including Grange Hill, Channel 4 News and Countdown.— Tom Hourigan (@TomHourigan) October 16, 2021
Here’s 80 seconds of his genius: pic.twitter.com/KNqWNLK0So
"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," Christiane added. Fans joined her in mourning Hawkshaw on social media - in many cases, by highlighting some of his most iconic works.
According to Hawkshaw's website, he wrote the music for more than 35 films and "countless" TV shows over the years. From the 1950s to the 1970s, he worked for the KPM production music company, where he made stock tracks that were later licensed to film studios. Some of his best-known works include the theme songs for Grange Hill and Countdown.
Hawkshaw also toured and performed original music over the years, starting with the rock 'n roll band Emile Ford & The Checkmates in the 1960s. They reportedly toured with The Rolling Stones, and in the following decade, Hawkshaw became the musical director, arranger and pianist for Olivia Newton-John. He was give The American Academy of Arts and Science's best arrangement award for his work on her song "I Honestly Love You."
Hawkshaw's other bands included The Shadows and The Mohawks. With the latter, he co-wrote "The Champ," a song that would go on to be sampled over 700 times in his life. The song did not do well on the charts in its own right, but it became a staple of the emerging hip hop music genre, sampled by artists including MC Hammer, Eazy-E, DJ Jazzy Jeff * The Fresh Prince, Aaliyah, The Notorious B.I.G., Nicki Minaj, Frank Ocean and Migos, among many others.
Hawkshaw went on to similar work with artists including Barbra Streisand, Tom Jones, Lulu and David Bowie. Other A-list artists have sampled Hawkshaw's work if they couldn't work with him directly - perhaps most notably Jay-Z in his song "Pray." Hawkshaw is survived by Christiane as well as their two children, a son named Sheldon and daughter Kirsty Hawkshaw, who has had an acclaimed career as a singer, songwriter and dancer in her own right.