Tom Hooker (his real name is said to be Thomas Beecher Hooker) was born on November, 18th 1959 in Greenwich (Connecticut). He started his musical carreer as a drummer. He studied languages in Switzerland and was discovered by Italian producers. He had his first success in 1985 with Looking for Love. He also gave his voice for the first Den Harrow hits (such as Future Brain), co-wrote many of his songs (under the name of T. Beecher), and was given the credits for background vocals. In the mid 90s Tom Hooker disappeared from the music scene and he changed name so after that period no one really knows anything about him.
Zeljko : Dear Tom, thank you very much for this opportunity you gave me. Can you tell me who is Tom Hooker ?
Tom Hooker : I was born in the U.S. was brought to Europe when I was 6 months old. I lived in Milan, Dusseldorf and for the most part Geneva and Santa Barbara. I speak fluent French, Italian and English.
Where and when did you have your first music experience ?
I started playing the drums at 10. My first band was at 13. My first concert as a drummer/singer was at 15.
Please Tom tell me in more details your start in Italo music ? Who helped you to start your great career ? Tell me the names?
The first guy was Gianni Naso. He was president of the Association Italiana of Disc Jockeys. He liked Flip Over and I got signed in 1980 because of him, but I didn't even know him. A cassette was sent to him through a publisher in Milan. I was in recording studios a lot as a drummer and produced my own record as a singer/songwiter.
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.
As 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 have chance?
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 on it.
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. Iremember 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 - SouthAmerica, 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 work ?
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?
I'm retired. I do my baby art. I am going to do a Calendar and I'm selling posters and showing in art galleries.
What kind of music you are listening today?
I listen to New Age, Classical, Oldies, Jazz, pretty much everything except, Italo, Metal and Rap.
Do you watch new Italian disco production ? For example work of Mauro Farina (Orlando, Morgana, Radiorama...) ?
Italo disco music making me so "sunny" and I have the feeling that every time and that is non-stop, when I am listening Italo is summer. What is the feeling listening Italo in sunny and warm Santa Monica in California ?
Santa Monica is warm and sunny and I listen to Sarah Brightman and Emma Shapplin. Life is interesting because there are so many different things. Some people like green, others like blue. I listen to Classical music, too.
Do you have any message for Italo fans all around the world that admire and respect and love your work with the same passion then and today ?
The best thing in life is love and the secret to happiness is wanting what you already have.
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