A Phil Brodie Band Tribute Page

Chuck Fowler
Sadly left us August 1999

Hillbilly, Sheffield's Jerry Lee, The Piano Man, what ever you feel the need to call him, Chuck was an amazing singer, multi - musician, excelling on the piano, and a vigorous entertaining artist. Performing in 5 decades he became one of the most wanted acts and virtually a household name in Sheffield & surrounding areas ~ to most, Hillbilly Rock was Chuck Fowler



THE START
Chuck was born Brian Fowler, into a musical family at Beighton. Musically influenced very early in life by his father an organist, playing the pipe organ in many cathedrals and churches. At the age of seven Chuck was made to start piano lessons, which like many other kids of this age he'd prefer to be out playing, not piano practice. In the 40's Jazz had crept into the UK and after the war onto the radio. This was very different to the classical music in their home. Chuck started to take notice, his first influences being Glen Miller, Count Basie, Stan Kenton and the likes. He also enjoyed gospel. Then along came Tennessee Ernie Ford, and the country of Hank Williams. By now he was wanting to play music with a band, so Chuck invested in an old worn out Spanish guitar, which, he soon changed to a Martin Coletti which he taught himself to play. At this early age he thought a guitar more macho than playing his piano. Chuck had an older brother Don who played the drums, so together with fellow muso friends Pete Taylor (bass) and Frank Miles (lead guitar) they formed their first band, a skiffle / rock n roll ~ The Frantic Four. Their first gig was at The Angel in Killamarsh. In those days there wasn't much modern music on the radio and TV (If you had one), so most of their money went on records which they played along to, to learn new numbers.
The Frantic Four
THE FRANTIC FOUR

PART TWO

With the arrival of Jerry Lee Lewis in the 50's, Chuck returned to his piano. He played Jerry numbers by ear and sang the tracks of this great new sound. Chuck loved to sing.Then it all came to a sudden halt. Chuck joined the Royal Air Force, and spent the next 3 years in and around Singapore, then Stanford. While in service he and a few forces muso friends played when ever possible. On his return home he didn't waste much time to get back to the music scene. He managed a band Jess Hunter and The Trekkers.
When Jess left, Chuck took leadership of the group which consisted of Lol Naylor on drums and Bob Taylor on bass. This was the start of quite a few bands which Chuck fronted over the next few years, playing all the high spots in and around Sheffield. 1965 saw him take another road, he and drummer John Firminger formed a duo and took a Friday / Saturday residency in Rotherham. But not for long!


NEXT PART
Three months later The Chuck Fowler Six was born. Chuck on piano and vocals, Dick Dodd on bass, John Firminger on drums, Bob Threadgold guitar, two sax players Keith Chambers and ex Dave Clarke Five member Jimmy Spencer. This was a great solid band. Next he teamed up with Dave Hawley for a few months. 1967 sees him with drummer John Hunt ( x Jimmy Crawford) and bassist Keith Richardson. 1968 sees him with bassist Bob Taylor and John Firminger. This trio did the clubs, the dances, the cabarets.
Keeping up with the times they introduced a little soul and swing jazz into the band. Old friend Frank Miles who had been with Dave Berry took over from Bob, and Hillbilly Cat Roger Jackson took over on drums. Gerry Wrigley (drums) and Terry Jenkinson (bass) played in the trio a while. The 1974 line up Chuck, Steve Smith and Ian Matthews Appeared on Opportunity Knocks hosted by Hughie Green. They had a great night but unfortunately nothing came from it. As Chuck continued playing the clubs the late great Roy Barber played with him, bringing with him a very different sound with his steel pedal. They did some awesome recordings together featuring the steel pedal. Also Kenny Slade from Joe Cocker fame joined him for a while, as did drummer John Riley.
The Chuck Fowler Band: Dave Smith, Alan Wood, John Crookes, Steve Denton, Chuck and Dave Hopper
The Chuck Fowler Band:
Dave, Alan Wood, John Crookes, Steve Denton, Chuck and Dave Hopper


THE STORY CONTINUES
As the 80's approached Chuck,
Steve Denton and Alan Wood, who now had a musical agency, formed a band. Rock n Roll was in demand again.This band included Chuck on piano and vocals, Dave on drums, bassist Alan Wood , John Crookes with harmonica and sax, Steve Denton vocals and Dave Hopper on lead guitar. They cut an album and their single reached No 5 in the national rock n roll charts. This bought them plenty of work with Radio 1 and doing jingles for Kid Jenson and Peter Powell. Alan got them a recording deal with Rockburgh Records who published a single, Chuck singing "Rockabye Boogie" on one side and Steve Denton singing "Mystery Train" on the other side. The single reached No 1 in The Melody Maker's alternative rock 'n' roll chart. This line up was a sensational rock n roll band, a real show band all specializing in their own favorite's. Alan Wood with his Chuck Berry, Steve Denton doing an awesome Elvis, John Crookes with Yakkety Sax.
Photo of Steve Denton, John Crookes, Chuck Fowler, Alan Wood and John Ferminger.
1999 : Steve Denton - singer, John Crookes - harmonica & sax,
Chuck Fowler - keyboard, Alan Wood - bass and John Firminger on the drums.

THE FINAL CURTAIN
Keeping a band together with such big personalities is near impossible, the band split. Chuck formed one last band before going solo. Different again, this band had a bit of a country style mixed in and they came second at a national talent contest at Wembley. By now with over 40 years of band politics and personality differences Chuck took to the road solo with a keyboard. He was the most sort after act for the pubs, parties, and weddings. Sadly he was diagnosed with cancer. This did not deter Chuck, his love for music kept him working continually and bravely till a couple of days before is untimely death, when he gave a superb last performance at the Richmond Club.
Ronnie Blythe, Alan Wood, Chuck, Pat Fowler, Tony Capstick and Bobby Knutt.
Ronnie Blythe, Alan Wood, Chuck himself, Chuck's wife, Pat Fowler,
the late Tony Capstick and Bobby Knutt
(who jointly compered the charity night)



In Memory Of Brian "Chuck" Fowler
for his family, friends and fans.
~ Rest In Peace ~



Many thanks to :
Chuck's stepson Robin Rawson-Tetley for the photos.
John Firminger for added information.

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