Showaddywaddy: The rock and roll revivalists who ruled the charts

2 October 2023, 15:22

Showaddywaddy. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Showaddywaddy are a British rock and roll group that have been entertaining audiences for almost 50 years.

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They are known for their distinctive style of dressing in colourful teddy boy suits and performing covers of classic hits from the 1950s and early 1960s, as well as their own original songs.

They have had 10 top ten singles in the UK, including a number one with 'Under the Moon of Love' in 1976.

Formed in 1973 in Leicester, Showaddywaddy emerged from the fusion of two local bands: Choise and Golden Hammers.

Choise, a band that wrote and performed original material, consisted of members Dave Bartram, Trevor Oakes, Al James, and Romeo Challenger. Concurrently, they dabbled in cover songs, some of which carried over to be recorded by Showaddywaddy.

Showaddywaddy - Under The Moon Of Love • TopPop

On the other hand, The Hammers, primarily a covers band, comprised Buddy Gask, Russ Field, Rod Deas, and Malcolm Allured.

Both bands had a regular presence at the Fosseway pub in Leicester and played across the UK. In early 1973, during a joint performance, the bands realized their collective act, 'Showaddywaddy,' resonated better with the audience. This collaboration led to Showaddywaddy becoming the headline act, with each band taking turns as the supporting act to earn extra cash.

As for the band's name? Dave Bartram explained in 2023: "I was doing a vocal arrangement for a song called 'Little Darlin’' by The Diamonds. The backing vocals were “Bop bop sho-waddy-waddy”. I picked up on the word and put it to the boys. It was different enough for them to think it might work. And so it proved."

Showaddywaddy in 1975
Showaddywaddy in 1975. Picture: Alamy

In the summer of 1973, Showaddywaddy's talent caught the eye of TV producers, landing them a spot on New Faces. Their success on the show attracted several record companies, leading to a signing with Bell Records. Consequently, Choise and The Hammers disbanded, making Showaddywaddy the sole act.

Their debut single, 'Hey Rock And Roll,' released on April 19, 1974, soared to number two in the UK charts.

Showaddywaddy continued to dominate the charts with 22 more hits until late 1982, including nine top five singles and one chart-topping hit.

The band's transition from writing original songs to covers, like 'Three Steps To Heaven,' 'Heartbeat,' and 'Under The Moon Of Love,' further solidified their musical legacy. Their covers, often pop versions of '50s and '60s US rock 'n' roll classics, were complemented by their colourful image, dance routines, and numerous TV appearances.

Their hits were:

  • Hey Rock and Roll (number 2 in the UK)
  • Hey Mr Christmas (13)
  • Three Steps to Heaven (2)
  • Heartbeat (7)
  • Under the Moon of Love (1)
  • When (3)
  • You Got What It Takes (2)
  • Dancin' Party (4)
  • I Wonder Why (2)
  • A Little Bit of Soap (5)
  • Pretty Little Angel Eyes (5)
  • Remember Then (17)

Showaddywaddy - When • TopPop

Throughout their original period from 1974 to 1983, Showaddywaddy released 11 albums, five of which reached the top 10, including the number one album Greatest Hits 76-78.

Their iconic lineup, featuring two singers, guitarists, bass players, and drummers, allowed for dynamic stage performances. At their peak, they performed up to 200 gigs annually, showcasing their remarkable work ethic.

Over the years, the lineup saw changes, but the band's spirit endured. Their 30th-anniversary tour in 2003, alongside The Rubettes and Sweet, marked a significant milestone.

Showaddywaddy performing
Showaddywaddy performing. Picture: Getty

By 2010, only three of the original eight members remained: Dave Bartram, Rod Deas, and Romeo Challenger. In 2019, Showaddywaddy celebrated their 45th anniversary, achieving remarkable chart success with the release of the compilation album Gold. Challenger is the only remaining member of the band as of 2023.

The band continues to evolve even today. As they hit their 50th anniversary in 2023, Showaddywaddy, under the management of Dave Bartram, stands as a testament to their enduring legacy in the music industry.

What began as a collaboration in a local pub in 1973 has transformed into an extraordinary journey, leaving an impressive mark on the world of rock 'n' roll.

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