How Gordon Haskell made Radio 2s most requested song

How Gordon Haskell made Radio 2s most requested song

Gordon Haskell, the guitarist and singer who scored a huge chart hit late in his career, has died aged 74.

He released his first album in 1969, but failed to make the UK charts for the next three decades, despite releasing eight more solo albums.

However, his 2001 track How Wonderful You Are became a surprise hit, reaching number two in the UK singles chart.

It was narrowly beaten to the Christmas number one spot by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman’s Somethin’ Stupid.

But that didn’t stop How Wonderful You Are from surpassing The Beatles’ Hey Jude and Frank Sinatra’s My Way in becoming Radio 2’s most-requested song ever.

Haskell had previously worked as a bassist in The Fleur de Lys and spent a short period as a guitarist and singer in King Crimson.

The news of Haskell’s death was announced on his official Facebook page on Sunday evening, though no cause was mentioned.

The post described him as “a great musician and a wonderful person who will be sadly missed by so many”.

In 1970, Haskell briefly performed bass and singing duties for London prog rock band King Crimson, alongside his old Dorset schoolmate Robert Fripp.

After decades spent recording and performing, any real UK chart success had evaded Haskell until after the millennium when How Wonderful You Are reached number two.

The jazz-tinged ballad started picking up momentum after it was first played on Radio 2 by DJ Johnnie Walker.

The station later said the track had become the most requested song in Radio 2’s history.

It narrowly missed bagging the UK Christmas number one, losing out to Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman’s cover of Somethin’ Stupid.

“Suddenly, after all these years, there’s all this attention,” Haskell said at the time. “But I’ve been living on skid row for so long that if I make a million now, it’s back pay.”

The album the track was taken from, Harry’s Bar, also reached number two.

In 2002, Haskell told the BBC he made his records the old-fashioned way, and claimed his late arrival had struck “a blow for the old school” and rocked the music industry machine.

He said he hadn’t even wanted to record the song initially as he was sick of being rejected by labels.

“I knew it was a strong song and up to a standard that I was trying to attain privately,” he said.

“I’d never had any grief with Joe Public, they had supported me at gigs for 17 years and I always knew that Joe Public liked what I did.”

Earlier in his career, Haskell had replaced Greg Lake as singer and bass player in King Crimson – whose song, 21st Century Schizoid Man, would later be sampled by Kanye West.

His former band noted how his time with them “wasn’t a particularly happy part of his long career” but that his work on their second and third albums, The Wake Of Poseidon and Lizard, is still “much admired in the Crimson community”.

Musical differences caused Haskell to leave the band soon after, as he preferred a more raw and soulful sound; and objected to having his vocals manipulated in the studio.

Prior to that, he had enjoyed relative success around the world playing bass in the psychedelic pop band The Fleur De Lys – an Atlantic Records session band.

During this period, Haskell also briefly shared a London flat with guitar sensation Jimi Hendrix.

He released his first solo album in 1969, with his 13th and final one, The Cat Who’s Got The Cream, arriving in January 2020.

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