From Mick Clarke:
My old friend Mick Hawksworth passed away early on Saturday morning, 28th January. He succumbed to a short illness and died peacefully in care near his home in Axminster, Devon.
I always thought Mick would long outlive me. He had a steady, dogged approach to life.. utterly unflappable, he took most things in his stride, with either a light chuckle if there was a trace of humour to be found in the situation, or if there wasn't, that characteristic slight upturn of his lip which meant that he didn't really consider the matter to be worthy of too much of his consideration.
He was mechanically minded, and tough, in his way. If the van needed fixing he'd be out there in a T shirt in freezing weather, roll-up on the go, until it was done. It wasn't that he didn't have a warm coat - he didn't seem to need one. On stage I never heard him flag - every note played with the same steady power.
And what power. Yes, loud, but always with class. A driving, distinctive, melodic and thoughtful approach to the job. There would often be a full bass solo at some point, with fuzz, feedback, harmonics - played with flair. And there might be one or two other solos creeping in at other points during the evening.. he had plenty to say. But never dull. To paraphrase Stevie Smith: not so much a bass player - more of a force of nature.
I first met Mick way back in the 60s when my band Killing Floor played at a college gig with the three piece prog rock band Andromeda. Later Mick joined Killing Floor for a while and when it morphed into the new version of Cliff Bennett's Toefat Mick was there, with his friend Tony Fernandez on the drums.
Mick lived in a big old house in South London with a load of other young people and there always seemed to be a lot of laughter around. Mick loved The Goons, Milligan and so forth.. if there was nothing else to say then "niddle naddle noo" would suffice.
Later Mick worked with Alvin Lee in "Ten Years Later" along with his friend Tom Compton. I saw them play at Long Beach Arena in California, when I was living over there for a short time in 1979. They were great. Later I got a lift home with Mick and some friends, sitting on the floor of a Transit van, which I thought seemed a little too much like the old days for my liking.
When I needed a bass player for the MC Band in the 90s I thought it would be great to play with Mick again. Though I never actually asked him to join the band, because I knew he was too much of an individualist to follow instructions from anyone else, especially me. And sure enough it was a wild ride, but a lot of fun. Mick played on the Roll Again album and lent his characteristic sound to tracks such as the slow instrumental Gypsy Blues - "Right up my street, Mick".
We had a couple of great line ups, first with Dangerous Dave on harp and later with Lou Martin on piano, with a few 3 piece tours thrown in between. Great nights at The Franz Club in Berlin, Honigfabrik in Hamburg, festivals and European Tours.
And between the shows Mick made me laugh. I remember becoming helplessly out of control with laughter sitting in a motorway services somewhere on the way home from a gig when Mick went into one. He could tell a joke.. The Zachary Syndrome was always a winner. And the best of all was the memorable stay at the Fontanelle Hotel in Toscalano Moderno, on the shore of Lake Garda. With a couple of days off between gigs the chemistry between Mick, Chris Sharley and our harp player at the time, Quentin, produced relentless mirth, culminating in the legendary Sausage King of Zeebrugge. (No nothing rude, just very funny).
The last time I played with Mick was when we played a few London dates as the Clarke / Smith Supergroup - myself, Stevie Smith, Mick and Chris Sharley. Mick could front the band as well as any with a favourite such as Little Feat's "New Delhi Freight Train".
And we stayed in touch. An email from Mick would always be a tour de force of quirky humour, always under one of his nommes de guerre.. Muck Horsfeef, Mitch Portsmouth, Mock Horsepork, Thumpo Stitchmore. Thumpo Stitchmore! I tried to give as good as I got, but somehow we both knew he was the boss.
Rock on Mick. That celestial band up there has just been given a righteous kick in the ass. Give 'em hell.