Anthony Peter Hatch was born in Pinner, North London, in 1939. Growing up in the 1940s, he took up the piano at the age of four and was in the school choir by the age of ten, discovering Mantovani at 14.
He left school at 16, joined a music publisher, and, after a couple of years of National Service – during which he arranged music for the Coldstream Guards – he never looked back.
His first hit as a producer was The Searchers‘ Sweets For My Sweet in June 1963, quickly followed by their follow-up, Sugar And Spice, which he also wrote, under the name Fred Nightingale.
His work with Petula Clark was even more rewarding: His composition Downtown was the first disc by a UK solo artist to top the US charts. One of the most-sung songs in pop music, it has been covered by everyone from the KLF to Billy Preston.
Don’t Sleep In The Subway was another seductive slice of late 60s pop, and he also hit #1 in 1965 with his songwriting partner Jackie Trent’s big ballad version of Where Are You Now (My Love)? The pair married in 1966 and wrote a number of memorable tracks together, including the theme tunes to The Champions, Emmerdale Farm and Crossroads.
The Tony Hatch touch could turn almost any song into a hit. Petula Clark’s Sign Of The Times is a tremendous example: The hook is ruthless, the backing is so bright and breezy, and the overall feel of the track is so infectious that you almost forget it’s actually not a very good song.
He was never the same force in the 1970s. Perhaps providing the blueprint for Simon Cowell by slagging off acts on ITV’s New Faces did it.
Hatch and Trent moved to Australia in 1982, where they wrote the theme tune for popular Aussie soap, Neighbours. They separated in 1995 and divorced in 2002. He now lives in Menorca, Spain, with his third wife, Maggie.