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Electric Fork - The Remarkable True Story

In late 2009, Hank Dawson1, lead guitarist with rock band, Lick The Fish, was beginning to feel it might be time for a change. “Things had got rather out of control,” he recalls, “I was being hounded by the press day and night after the Norfolk apple scandal”  (now the subject of an important new Electric Fork drama documentary,      Juice of Shame, to be released June 2013). “Then there were the drug busts and stuff.”  Tensions were mounting in the band and a split seemed inevitable.  “Basically, the rest of Fish told me I had to clean up or get out,” Hank explains, “Well, that was enough for me. I didn’t think ‘cleaning up’ was what being a rock god was about. So whatever I did, it looked like the end for me and Fish.”  But after  more than three decades of life at the top, what was Hank going to do? “The guitar had been my life and I’d never thought of doing anything else,” he says. But then, one night after what was to be the last Fish gig, something happened: “A lucky fan forgot her camcorder in my dressing room. I picked it up and was amazed at the quality of the images she’d  got of us - just pressed the button and let it run . Right then I knew that film was going to be the new rock and roll for me.”  

Hank knew he had all the skills needed to build a successful media company , “You’re not exactly walking naked with 30 odd years worth of press and TV coverage under your belt, are you?” he asks rhetorically. “Poacher turned gamekeeper, sort of gig.” He also knew he had the necessary qualities to lead such a company, “When you’ve had eighty thousand people in a field all eating out the palm of your hand, persuading a couple of blokes round a table to do it my way isn’t much of a challenge,” he says.

However, Hank would need a fixer: someone who could take the business end of things forward. He made a call to Charles Gurlie-Howlen.  “I knew Charlie from gigs he’d organised for us abroad. They were always spot on - plenty of everything you might need to play a rock gig to the troops, if you know what I mean.”

As it turned out, Charlie was in the middle of what he himself refers to as “ A bit of a sticky exit” from the RAF. He takes up the story, “I kid you not, Hank’s invitation came not a moment too soon. There was a big stink about me selling off a couple of kites to the Saudis. One of them got pranged, which was hardly my fault.  I’d done my best for the Service, but it seemed like it was a case of ‘you play ball with me and I’ll stick the bat up your arse’, so I jumped at the chance to join Hank on Civvy Street.”  Like Hank, he felt that his previous experience perfectly suited him for the top job in Production and Development. “I had a bit of a reputation in the RAF for being able to find alcohol in the driest of places and it was said that I could sell pork to a rabbi - used to say ‘to a rabbit’,  myself, actually. Vegetarian, you see. Queer sort. Not a natural enemy of the pig at all.”     

 The final member of the triumvirate was Tim Hood, a highly respected choreographer and stage manager whose impressive portfolio included a brief period in a secure unit specialising in personality disorders  as well as acclaimed work in the East of England and on the catwalk. “I was sceptical at first, but  I realised that not only was I was tired of it all, the pretentious drivel that passed as Theatre, but that here was a chance to do something truly great. In Electric Fork I saw a way to bring passion and gravitas together. And Oh! What joy to leave behind forever the world of the pampered ‘celebrity’ and the oily little sycophants  that followed them - fawning, second rate desperadoes. I despised their desperation! Love me! Love me! they cried, all semblance of dignity thrown to the wind in their pathetic search for a touch of fame or infamy.”

And so the legend was born. Three men, each in his own way skilled and successful and each looking for change at just the point where fate and Hank’s vision brought them together. These are the people we have to thank every time we see that little fork rotating and know that we are about to be treated to something arresting, something that could only have emerged from the world of Electric Fork.

1Hank Dawson changed his name from Frank Lawson in 1976.


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Tim Hood smallCharles Gurlie Howlen smallHank Dawson smallvideo cover for 3 directors & logo

Feb/March 2014

Charlie says:

The big news at the moment is the Quinlan thing with the poet Haycock. Queer sort of chap, doesn’t drink alcohol for a start - don’t know how he does it.

It has been hard work to get the several voices on record, but now the painstaking process of putting it all together with Deborah Edwards’ superb illustrations begins. It’s not all beer and skittles at EF, you know.