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Justin David Hawkins (born 17 March 1975 in Chertseymarker, Surreymarker, Englandmarker) is an Englishmarker musician and singer-songwriter, best known for being the former lead singer and lead guitarist of The Darkness, alongside his brother, guitarist Dan Hawkins. Heavily influenced by classic hard rock and glam metal bands of the 1970s and 1980s such as Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Aerosmith and AC/DC, Hawkins is noted for his soaring falsetto and his charismatic persona, often displaying an exaggerated degree of flamboyance and camp humour on stage. His current band is called Hot Leg, formed in 2008, although since 2005 he is also active in his synthpop alter ego British Whale.

Early life and background

Hawkins grew up in Lowestoft, near Oulton Broadmarker. He studied at Kirkley High Schoolmarker (notably the venue for the second series of Channel 4's Rock School programme; although any reference to The Darkness was conspicuously erased in that series in spite of their having donated thousands of pounds' worth of musical equipment to the school ), he left part-way through his 'A' Levels to study Music Technology at Huddersfieldmarker Technical College while living in Sowerby Bridgemarker near Halifaxmarker, West Yorkshire. His brother Dan Hawkins is now the lead guitarist of the Stone Gods.

Justin Hawkins is an accomplished lead guitarist, which he would occasionally display while performing with the Darkness. However, his potential as a frontman was recognised by his brother when he did an impressive recreation of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" at a New Year's Eve party in 1999, despite the fact that Justin was only miming to the original song. Hawkins fully developed his love of rock music while playing with the now defunct heavy metal band The Commander (Justin "Turbo" Hawkins, Rico Musson, Shaggy Forley, David "Growy" Owens, Jim Lee & Richard "Beaky" Bedford). They are affectionately credited on The Darkness' debut album Permission to Land.

Hawkins is known for wearing catsuits, and his flamboyance and exaggeration, with David Lee Roth-esque acrobatics.

Music career

The Darkness

Hawkins began playing clubs and pubs with the Darkness until they were signed by record label Atlantic Records. Their debut album, Permission to Land, went straight to number two in the UK charts upon its release on 7 July 2003, before going to number one and staying there for four weeks, eventually going on to sell 1.5 million copies in the UK. 3.5m copies over all. The Darkness took inspiration for some of their work from the local north Suffolk area, including "Black Shuck" which mentions the nearby village of Blythburghmarker. The success of this album led to heavy touring for the band, including European portions of Metallica's Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003. They then went on to headline the Carling Festival in 2004. The band won three BRIT Awards in 2004 in response to the album, Best Group, Best Rock Group and Best Album. They also won two Kerrang! awards in 2004 for Best Live Act and Best British Band. The third single from the album, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love", was a substantial hit in the UK as was their tilt at the Christmas 2003 number 1, "Christmas Time ", which only just fell short, both singles reaching No.2 in 2003.

Justin Hawkins performs live with The Darkness
By late 2004 the band's constant media coverage had started to lead to a general public backlash, and Hawkins and the band themselves seemed to show signs that they were disillusioned with their constant media appearances, infamously walking off of an episode of the U.S.-nationally-syndicated radio talk show Loveline on 19 April 2004. Ultimately, the band responded to criticism by touring the UK on their Winter-National Tour. One part of the show included Justin climbing upon a life-sized tiger during "Love on the Rocks with No Ice" and being elevated above the audience whilst playing guitar.

In October 2005, a month before the album One Way Ticket to Hell... And Back was to be officially released, Justin Hawkins won an eBay auction for a copy of One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back for £350 under the username 'turbogunhawk'. He claimed he did this so that he could track down whoever sold the digitally-marked advance copy of the album and try to prevent it from happening again.

"One Way Ticket", the first single from their second album, was released on 14 November 2005, debuting and peaking at number 8 on the UK Singles chart. The album itself was released on 28 November 2005, to somewhat mixed reviews. The album was produced by rock producer Roy Thomas Baker, best known for his work with Queen. Early sales figures in the UK showed the album had not sold as well its predecessor, Permission to Land. The album debuted at number 11, and fell to number 34 in the second week of its release. Although it went on to achieve platinum status, this was in stark contrast with their debut's five times platinum status.
The second single taken from their second album was "Is It Just Me?", released on 20 February 2006. The single gained a preliminary position of No. 6 all that week, but finally charted at number 8. Justin announced when on stage that their third single to be released from the album was "Girlfriend". Released 22 May, "Girlfriend" charted at number 39, mainly due to the lack of radio play and promotion.

The band followed up their second album with a tour of the UK and Ireland, consisting of 12 dates in the major cities. The tour opened in Dublin's Point Depotmarker on 4 February and closed in the Nottingham Arena on 20 February. Few of the venues sold out, their appeal seemingly having become more selective. Their world tour, which followed, arrived in Australia and Japanmarker after touring Scandinavia and Continental Europe in March.

In October 2006, Hawkins left The Darkness. Although drug and alcohol problems were initially cited as the main reason, later on national television, Hawkins would claim that he had grown tired of the constant routine of the band, recording and promoting an album, going on tours for months, back in the studio, etc. which he considered "monotonous and boring" and "could not understand how bands like the Rolling Stones could sustain it".

Other projects

In 2005, Justin set up a solo project, called British Whale. His debut single, "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", a cover of the 1974 hit by Sparks, was released on 15 August and reached #6 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2006 Hawkins released a second single, available only to download, an unofficial World Cup anthem called "England".

Hawkins sang backing vocals on Def Leppard's cover of The Sweet's song "Hell Raiser" for their 2006 covers album Yeah!.

In early 2007, he became half of one of six acts competing to represent the UKmarker in the Eurovision Song Contest competition in Helsinkimarker in a duet with singer Beverlei Brown. He entered Making Your Mind Up with Beverlei Brown singing a song entitled "They Don’t Make 'Em Like They Used To" but did not win the competition.

On 16 March 2007, he appeared on the Comic Relief evening during the half-hour Top Gear of the Pops programme. This saw him performing Billy Ocean's "Red Light Spells Danger" with the three Top Gear presenters.

Later that month, on 29 March, Justin created a new MySpace profile featuring songs which were planned to be included on his upcoming solo album entitled Panther. The songs are titled "You Can't Hurt Me Anymore", "I've Met Jesus" and "Whichever". On 12 May, Justin added a further song to his profile; "Gay In The 80's", to appear on the same album. Later, on 13 July, he removed all the songs, and mentioned "You'll just have to wait." He later announced a new band line-up and name - Hot Leg. The aforementioned songs will feature on the Hot Leg album 'Red Light Fever'.
Hawkins also announced that he had been participating in the recording of two Magnet Watch albums entitled Nude Horizon and Party Party Time Time. On 8 November 2007 3:00am Hawkins posted a MySpace blog containing directions to Do the Green Thing, an organisation for which he has composed a new song "Do It In The Dark", to accompany a short film which encourages people to switch off and save energy. The song has not been released as a single, but is available as a free download.

There is a wax model of Hawkins at Madame Tussaudmarker's in London.

It has been announced that Hawkins is supplying the singing and guitar playing for "Kurtz", the lead singer of the "bad guy band" Mantyz in the BBC's new animated series; Freefonix which debuted 4 January 2008.

In the film Telstar, a film about Joe Meek's life and career that was released on June 19, 2009, he played the role of Screaming Lord Sutch.

With Hot Leg in November 2008, he toured the UK supporting Alter Bridge (November 4-13) and Extreme (November 14-24).

Justin Hawkins has also been in the studio with British pop-rock band Saving Aimee, having recently completed producing their debut album.

Justin Hawkins recently lent his 'truth larynx' to the track "Party All Day (Fuck All Night)" guesting on the latest Steel Panther release, Feel the Steel.

Justin Hawkins recently worked with Adam Lambert on the track "Music Again" off his debut album.

Personal life

Justin Hawkins
In August 2006 it was reported (and later confirmed by The Darkness' management) that Hawkins had been admitted to The Priory, a rehabilitation clinic. On 11 October 2006 Hawkins revealed spending £150,000 in three years on cocaine (which works out at about 3g per day) after cracking the charts in 2003 with their single "I Believe in a Thing Called Love". When he realised he was no longer in control of himself due to drugs and alcohol, he joined a one month addiction-treatment in The Priory.


Justin Hawkins is seen playing Gibson Les Paul Customs almost exclusively. He usually uses a Les Paul Custom Alpine White which he used with The Darkness(seen in Love is Only a Feeling Video), and it is still seen used with Hot Leg. He also has a Black Gibson Les Paul Custom. It is rare to see him use another guitar, although he can be seen playing an Ibanez for the song "Bald".

See also


External links

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