Where and when did you have your first music experience
Your first song was Looking For Love, released for Baby
Records. Your impressions please ?
Looking for Love was my first song as Tom Hooker with the Turatti/ Chieregato team. I had previously done Future Brain and a whole album for Den Harrow the previous year. Looking For Love was huge in Italy because Claudio Cecchetto liked it. He had a very important TV show at that time.
||You had great
songs, Looking For Love, Feeling Okay., Atlantis, Help Me, ... to mention
a few. Also you were not only a singer but also a songwriter and producer.
Tell me about this side of your work? Which song is your favorite ?
I always liked USSR for Eddie Huntington. We wrote it, Miki and I in one afternoon. Most of the songwriting was with Miki Chieregato. Turatti was more of a public relations guy. He would then "sell" the song to Freddy, the Head of the company. No matter how good a song was, if Freddy didn't like it, it would never be released. Therefore, Turatti was very important for the team, even though he didn't know how to play any instrument. I wrote so many songs with so many people under different names. I also wrote with Novecento. Dora Carofiglio/Nicolosi has a beautiful voice. I've written over a 100 songs that came out. My favorite songs are songs you probably wouldn't know. I liked Talk With Your Body. I released it with Full Time in 1981. I liked Love is Life with Elastic Band in 1995.
I know you have one album behind you, it’s Bad Reputation, tell me
a little bit about that album ?
I've done quite a few albums you don't know of. Plus two albums under the name Den Harrow. Bad Reputation was an album that came out too late. Nearly a year after Looking For Love. This was ridiculous ! The album had some good songs. No More Heaven was a ballad. I don't remember all the songs. I don't even have a copy ! I did another rock album in L.A. in 1995 with a band called Chameleon. Two, with Elastic Band. And two other pop albums under the name Tom Hooker.
Tom could you describe for me and for others fans of Italo disco music that time, the gold era of Italo disco in the mid 80’s through your eyes ?
It was a lot of fun, I made money, I had cars and girls. I knew all the famous people in Italy at the time. I am so much happier now, though. I am married and incognito in California. I finally understand the value of "true" things in life. I really love my wife today. Then, like many people who don't even admit it, I was in love with myself. Like many famous people, I had a huge ego.
Your publishing label was Baby Records. For the same label
worked Eddy Huntington, Den Harrow, Albert One and Gazebo. Are you were happy
with the work for that label ?
Freddy Naggiar the head of Baby Records, was a clever millionaire who always respected me as a good lyricist. He was a business man. Albert One was a nice Italian guy who understood good dance songs because he was a DJ but unfortunately had a heavy accent when he sang in English. It didn't bother any Europeans but it bothered me because I am American. He was limited to the European and Japanese markets because of this. Gazebo spoke good English and Giombini wrote beautiful melodies.
Did you have wish to work with someone else and you didn’t
Yes. Trevor Horn maybe.
Tom, I have one information, which came from one famous
Italian female singer. I don’t know is it true or just a rumor but I heard
that Den Harrow actually doesn’t exist as singer. Den Harrow is you! Please
can you tell me what is the truth?
Saying that Den Harrow doesn't exist as a singer is incorrect. He was very popular amongst the very young girls. From 12 to 15. Den Harrow became a brand name like Coca Cola. This is was the music business. There was a small problem. He couldn't sing. So the solution was to never let him sing, or to put his voice so low in the mix that it was non existant. He started as an image. He would work on his costumes and clothes and someone else would sing on the records. The truth is, vision is a more developed sense in humans than hearing. People tend to buy and listen what they like to see. I have never officially told this to anyone but this is the exact truth in chronological order:
To Meet Me and a Taste Of Love was Chuck Rolando's voice. He had a contract with Durium and had to stop. Then came Silvio Pozzuoli from Dream. He sang Mad Desire the single's version. Although a very talented singer, his English wasn't very good. I remember in Mad Desire. He sang "Ear I Ham" instead of "Here I am". Freddy bought my contract from Merak at the time and bought the whole Den Harrow project with his money, and I sang Future Brain. I don't think Den (his real name is Stefano Zandri) ever came to the studio. Future Brain was a huge hit in 1985. We had to do the album. I re-sang Mad Desire for the album. It wasn't any better than Silvio's but we wanted some continuity. It couldn't go from fluent English to an Italian accent. Too many people in Germany and Scandinavia can speak English. Then came Bad Boy and all the rest of the hits.
After two Albums of good hits, and making money, I wanted Don't Break My Heart to be a Tom Hooker song because I felt close to it. I also felt, Freddy was not pushing me because of the money machine of Den Harrow in Germany and France. We got another singer from England who had a much higher voice than mine. I can't remember his name. I still co-wrote the songs. The Album was Lies. I think, this was the end of Den Harrow's run. It was not at all what it used to be. Maybe it was the songs, maybe it was the different voice. Who really knows...
After Den Harrow left Baby Records, the records sales were small numbers. I think he sang on Ocean. He continues to make records that don't really sell to do his live shows because it's easy money. Basically, he still has a name. It's human, he wants a nice car and all that stuff. It's a shame he can't really sing, because he makes a good star. Everybody wants to make money. When I had the success of Looking For Love, my old record company called Full Time, released an unauthorised album with demos and tried to pass it as the new Tom Hooker album. This album was called Only One. This really ruined my career at that time. The distributors who bought it after the success of Looking For Love were taken aback with this crappy album that came out way before Bad Reputation. It sold crap but was easy money and ruined it for the real one, of course. But hey, you see it as music Zeljko. As a professional, I saw it as a business.
Did you have a good time in the studios while you were recording
your great songs ?
We would sometimes work until 5 in the morning. Finally, we would say, OK, let's go home now. Going into the studio was like walking into an office for me.
Tom I guess you had concerts ? Describe me please atmosphere
This was a very easy thing for me. After years and years of performing, I really perfected my craft. I became an entertainer. Sometimes people would go crazy. Italy doesn't have enough live concerts for dance music. I was one of the rare exceptions with a handful of people who could sing live at the time. Dora of Novecento, Ivana Spagna, the voice of The Creatures (Bruno Kassar)" Maybe one day. There was an Irish guy called Malcolm who could sing. Also Linda Westley and Glenn White of Kano. We would always meet in the studio for backing vocals in English. We were the "respected" singers. Most of the rest were images or phonies. I always did shows and the agents liked me because they would always get paid because I was real. I sang live. Many other artists were in playback.
Tom which italo disco song is your favorite and which artist
I always liked Gazebo for the melody and the piano. I also liked the earlier Kano but it sounded more American than Italo. To be honest, I never really was a great fan of Italian Dance Music. I was working and living in Italy and I liked all the music that wasn't Italian. I liked Pino Daniele because he sounded American. I really don't like the 90's house made in Italy. I always liked to sing ballads in my shows. You have to know how to sing a slow song.
Italo disco fans have not chance so often to see their favorite
artists in the newspaper, magazines because italo was never so successful in
Europe except in the mid of the 80’s. I
remember that I saw your photo in German magazine Bravo. This was really great. In your opinion why italo never made huge success as today house music doing ?
I did another album called Elastic Band in the 90's it was covers made dance style. A song is important. The house stuff is a bit hard to listen to. It's for the energy and to dance to. I don't go dancing anymore. I listen to different music. I think as long as people are enjoying it, it has it's purpose. I don't listen to Heavy Metal or Rap, but I'm sure there is some good stuff out there.
Many italo fans and I personal thinks about italo music
and about they creators as one community. Did you, creators of Italo music,
have chance to meet each other ?
Yes. I met most of them at shows. We came from different teams from all over the country. I think there was a bit of a rivalry more than a community. The plan was to get in the charts and sell records. There was only one number one spot and we would fight for it. It was like a sport.
On the beginning of listening Italo music I thought that
Italo is popular only in a few countries in Europe but today I know that Italo
was and still is very popular in whole world - South
America, Australia, Asia, USA, Europe of course. What do you think about it ?
That's great. I don't listen to it. My whole life I've been listening to different music at different times. If there was a radio station in L.A. that played Italo Dance, I would listen to it for memories and enjoy it more now than I did then. I would probably get nostalgic.
As I know your last song was Runaway from year 1994. Am
I right ? How you made this song ?
I'm not proud of that song. I don't like it at all. It was done very quickly with no record company. I did a song that I liked very much. It's called Love Is Life and it was called "Elastic Band". It was a good song with not much push. It's very melodic and catchy. Try and check it out.
What was going on after that song and that year ?
Elastic Band. I released an album with Baby Records.
Do you wish to contact and to see someone who was working
with you in the 80’s ? You told me in your first mail that you disappeared
from music scene. Why ? Is any special reason for that ?
I'm retired and I'm rich. I know it may sound strange to you but I was also doing it for the money. It was just a job. A very fun one at times. I don't need to sing or release albums for a personal gratification. I play tennis and golf and sell my art. However I would like to contact Turatti and Chieregato to know how they are doing.
Do you surf today on the web and watch other italo people
Tom, Italo concerts still exists and recently was one big
concert in The Hague, Netherlands (with Eddy, Albert One, P. Lion, and Fred
Ventura). Are you ready and have wished to have concert after so many years
here in Europe ? I am 100% sure many people would like to ask you to be their
guest on concert ?
I live kind of far away and I don't really need the money. Why are they doing it ?
What are you doing today?
You have very interesting job as I could see on your
web site. Tell me more about it please?
At the end I want to thank you so much Tom you contacted
me and you gave me chance to speak with you on this way. I wish you all the
best further. Your fan Zeljko
Thanks for being a fan.
Recently (March 2004) i had chance to talk with Gabriele Baldazzi who was the drummer of Tom Hooker. He was very kind to me and agreed to tell me a bit about his work with Tom Hooker, how he met him and some other interesting stuff. What he told me you can read below.
I met Tom in 1983. Our tour
manager, Bruno Gaggiotti, had a pretty good reputation at that time and he was
in charge to put together couple of successful shows with well-known names in
the industry, to go around the Italian peninsula and islands. I saw Tom in Italian
TV couple of time before but I had never paid attention to his songs honestly,
especially because he used to arrive on TV stages and perform his song with
his roller skates (that was his business card !).
In the band we had a good structure with drums, keyboards, guitar, bass and sax. We had two background voices plus two more background voices/dancers for Tom's number. Beside the concerts we used to find each other on the road or for dinners after shows, Tom was always pretty noisy and full of energy even after the shows. We loved to work with Tom because he used to perform live, no playback what so ever. During the show he used to play guitar and percussion also. A part his most famous hits and part of the new coming album, he performed also some cover from other artists.
I remember we loved to perform a particular song that was Music by Joe Walsh (Eagles). After that experience with Tom we moved with another manager, and we didn't have opportunity to work with other Italo Disco artists. However in the same show where Tom was part of, there was another big name at that time, actually he was the big star of the shows and his name is Sterling Saint Jacques, do you remember him ? The black guy with "blue eyes". But at difference from Tom he couldn't sing so we faked playing while he was going in playback. His hit at that time was Mamalou.
I still like the Italo disco and as for Tom, if I listen to some of those tunes it brings me immediately back in time and I have to say "what a time !!!"
To these days in L.A. where I live now, I have the XM radio in my car that would be the satellite radio and I get most of the disco tunes from Europe every day, I recognize the Italian "touch" all the time and I love it. I can tell you that we had a lot of fun going around the beautiful Italian territory doing what we loved most and meet people and eat incredible food.»
© Zeljko Vujkovic - 2004