Four f**ks, three p*sses, two sh*ts: Listen to Richard Hawley's fabulously sweary tribute to late Pulp bassist Steve Mackey

Richard Hawley at the Olivier Awards
(Image credit: Official London Theatre YouTube)

The Olivier Awards 2023 took place at London's Royal Albert Hall on Sunday, April 2, with The Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of Studio Ghibli classic My Neighbour Totoro, a new production of Tennessee Williams’ 1947 drama A Streetcar Named Desire and Suzie Miller's one-woman play Prima Facie, starring Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) among those triumphing on the night.

One of the evening's more entertaining moments was provided by Sheffield-born singer/songwriter Richard Hawley, who, alongside music supervisor/arranger/ orchestrator/composer Tom Deering, took home the award for Best Original Score or New Orchestrations for the duo's work on Standing at the Sky’s Edge at the National Theatre.

As broadcast live on Magic radio, the first words of Hawley's acceptance speech were "I don't really belong here", a touch of humility only slightly under-cut by his subsequent declaration that he'd actually stood on the RAH stage 101 times as a session guitarist, with "Jools Holland and.... [pause] some other people."

"It's been such a magical ride, and I've learned so much," he continued, before thanking Deering "a seriously heavyweight musician and a wonderful guy" for his guidance.

So far, so luvvie.

"Now there's one thing that's important to me personally I want to do, before I leave this stage," Hawley continued. "I know they said 40 seconds [guidance for the length of acceptance speeches] but... [looks at watch] fucking hell..."

"We all have to pay homage to fallen comrades sometimes, and I want to dedicate my very, very small portion of this award to my brother, and my dearest friend, Steve Mackey, the bass player in Pulp, who we lost a month ago. He and I had the great fortune to meet on the first day of infant school at Hucklow Road in Sheffield, in North Sheffield, many, many years ago, and we stayed friends and brothers all the way through, and I'm going to miss him my whole life."

"But I will tell you a funny story," Hawley goes on. "I know it's not fucking 40 seconds, but you can edit this shit out, right? You can edit this. Fuck off!"

At this point, a presenter at Magic cuts in to the live feed, and demurely says, "We must apologise to attend who's offended by some of the language that Richard Hawley is using, he's clearly very emotional..."

To Magic's credit, rather than cutting the sound feed dead, they keep broadcasting Hawley's speech: a decision that, perhaps, they might come to regret when a letter informing them on an inevitable Ofcom fine drops onto their MD's desk...

"It's funny," Hawley promises, as orchestral music swells are played, presumably to offer a gentle hint that he should shut the fuck up and get the fuck off the stage, a hint our hero chooses to ignore. 

"Do you wanna hear the funny story or that shit?" he asks.

The resulting cheers are Hawley's mandate to continue.

"Okay... summer holidays, 1977..."

The story which follows is a recollection about Hawley, Mackey, and various pals pissing in a corner at school to make rainbows: "and it was only Steve Mackey who knew it was called a prism. I just thought it was piss in the sun."

And then the pay-off...

"I mean, these days, literally, I have to take Viagra so I don't piss on me fucking slippers."

At this point, even the nice lady from Magic has given up, and can't stifle her own laughter. 

"He certainly went over his 40 seconds there," she concludes.

Listen to the audio clip below, courtesy of Radio Fail.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.