Born 13th September 1954 in Dublin and moving at an early age to Brighton, Den was what is known as a 'bit-of-a-brain' at school - he regularly came top of his class. While at school he put on frequent charity shows with the school band; one particular show, however, lost money and, as a result in an effort to recoup some of the debt, Den formed his own rock 'n' roll band. The group played several local gigs with such success that the nucleus of Rocky Sharpe came into being. At the same time, Den started at Kings College, London, reading English (an occupation he gave up 2 months before his final exams). Rocky Sharpe and the Razors released an EP on Chiswick and finally split up in May 1976. Within 3 months Den had formed a new R&B band and, on 17th August 1976 that band - DARTS - played their first gig.
Den's outrageous outfits and even more outrageous stage antics, made him one of the most talked-about and memorable stars of the 1970's. Here's how just a few of the music press described him:
"Den, who's always been a hot lead item, resounding bassman and all-round loony, has extended his ravings to the point where he's eligible for inclusion in a slim volume of British rock 'n' roll 'characters'." (Cliff White, NME 13/08/77)
"Star of their vocal quartet is Big Denis, a bass vocalist with tremendous stage charisma..." (Niall Culley, Record Mirror 02/07/77)
"...Den Hegarty excels with a persona that crosses Lou Reed with Frankenstein's monster, suffers from bulging eyes and hysterical rages, and spends much of the performance crashing about among the audience." (Nick Robertshaw, Music Week 13/08/77)
"...Hegarty assaulted the crowd maniacally, climbing through the first 10 rows doing unspeakable things to rather taken aback young ladies." (Jeff James, Record Mirror 13/08/77)
"He's got the deepest bass this side of the Deep River Boys. He lurches around the stage with such physical and facial contortions that the octet recedes into a backing band...(Den) makes like Frankenstein's bolted buddy, towers rigid at the tip of the stage and throws himself into the crowd, not so much in self-sacrifice as in attack. And the crowd don't seem that shocked. They've obviously been here before." (Harvey Lee, In Town Tonight 29/09/77)
Antics aside, let's
not forget that Den is a truly great bass singer and the man who put Darts
together. He is an accomplished singer, songwriter, sax player, arranger
and musical director. He wrote 'Bells In My Heart', 'Fancy Man',
'Late For Work', 'My Friend's Wife', 'Shotgun' (with
Thump) and the haunting a cappella track 'Why I Cry'.
I think Chas De Whalley sums Den up nicely in an article he wrote for 'Sounds' in October 1977. He writes: "...(Den's) the guy dressed in an outrageous silver lurex jacket. He's the bass from the bottom to the top when he isn't taking the lead. His thundering tonsils and precise harmonies will doubtless amaze you, while the way he clowns about behind the mike stands will probably make you smile. If you take your eyes off Mr Charisma I would be very surprised."
|Den left Darts in 1979. He came home from tour to find his father seriously ill. "I asked our manager if I could get home once a fortnight to see him. He said No. I put my family first." Den had one solo hit on Magnet with 'Voodoo Voodoo' which reached number 73 in the charts in March 1979. Later he fronted Tyne Tees's 'Alright Now' show but was let go after one series. "The makers said I was too anarchic." (They went on to make 'The Tube'!).|
|Den went on to replace Lenny Henry in the cult kids TV classic TISWAS (1980-1983) where he lay on a table periodically shouting "BONG" for the 'News At Den' slot. When not doing that, he was living most schoolboys' dream of rolling about in custard with Sally James (right). He was also a cable show quizmaster for a while and voice over artist for a number of TV commercials including Whitbread Bitter and Coco Pops. Den has also put groups together including The Randon Band - "you never knew who'd turn up."|
|Today Den lives with his wife and son in Devon, where his village hail him as their local celebrity (and quite right too!). He works as a lecturer at Exeter College and with the Open University, mainly in psychology. He fronts an acappella band called Slackapella ("...anything from the Inkspots to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and when I say Slack..."), a 15-piece soul band called the Soul Traders, and sings with doo-woppers The Metrotones.|
|Den has turned up in the identity parade on the BBC show 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks' where he was instantly recognised! He was also pictured in the 'Odd-One-Out' round of an episode of the BBC's 'Have I Got News For You' during which Paul Merton attempted a passable impression of Den!|