Richard Hawley Biography

17 January 1967, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. UK singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Hawley’s music is largely rooted in classic American pop and country music (namely Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, and the Everly Brothers, among others). Hawley grew up as the son of a Sheffield steel worker, and turned to music as an escape from his tough surroundings, first playing in his uncle’s band, and then touring Europe at the age of 14. Throughout the 90s, Hawley collaborated with notable rock artists including Robbie Williams, Nellee Hooper, Finlay Quaye, Perry Farrell, and All Saints (the latter of which Hawley played guitar for, on their hit cover version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Under The Bridge’). He served as a touring guitarist for Pulp on their This Is Hardcore world tour and was a longstanding member of the Britpop outfit the Longpigs.

Hawley took time off to recover after the Longpigs split up in 1999 (after their record label went bankrupt the same day that their final recording, Mobile Home, was issued). He returned home to Sheffield to record some solo compositions, originally without the intention of ever issuing the tunes commercially. Eventually however, they led to the launching of an official solo career shortly after the start of the new millennium, with critically acclaimed releases such as 2001’s debut mini-album and the same year’s Late Night Final (both on the independent Setanta Records label). Hawley’s rich baritone was a revelation and attracted as much praise as the unabashed romanticism of his lyrics and the beautifully poised arrangements on both albums. Hawley also aided Pulp in the recording of the same year’s We Love Life, playing both acoustic 12-string and lap steel guitar. His second solo album, 2003’s Lowedges, was another critical favourite - in an era dominated by post-modern irony, the disarming honesty of tracks such as ‘Run For Me’ and ‘The Motorcycle Song’ shone out like beacons of sanity.

Following the release of Lowedges, Hawley signed a new recording contract with Mute Records and quickly completed the recording of his next studio album. Legal problems delayed the album’s release, however, and in the interim Hawley worked with Nancy Sinatra in the studio and played a number of dates on R.E.M.’s world tour. He also indulged his passion for rockabilly music with his side project the Feral Cats. Coles Corner was eventually released in September 2005 and received some superb reviews. The brooding title track and ‘The Ocean’ were magnificent slices of nostalgic balladry. The album was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize the following year.

Hawley’s second Mute album, Lady’s Bridge (2007), stuck close to his tried and tested formula but showed no signs of creative torpor. He is presently at the peak of his art.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.