Hotlegs was a short-lived English band best known for its hit single "Neanderthal Man" in 1970. The band consisted of Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and – briefly – Graham Gouldman. In 1972, the band was relaunched as 10cc.
According to Eric Stewart, in the 2009 BBC radio documentary The Record Producers, the band's name came about because "there was a lovely girl at the time, a receptionist called Kathy, and she used to wear these hot pants, and we always used to call her "hot legs", and so we thought we'll call the group Hotlegs".
Stewart had earlier enjoyed success as a member of the 1960s pop band The Mindbenders and had delivered the vocals for that band's best-known track, "A Groovy Kind of Love". The Mindbenders disbanded in November 1968 and Stewart teamed with Peter Tattersall, a former road manager for Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and Gouldman, a fellow Mindbender and successful songwriter, to become joint owners of a Stockport recording studio which in 1969 was renamed Strawberry Studios.
Stewart and Gouldman enlisted Godley and Creme, longtime friends of Gouldman who had earlier launched an abortive career under entrepreneur Giorgio Gomelsky as duo Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon, and the team gained work writing and performing bubblegum songs under a variety of band names for US producers writer-producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz of Super K Productions, as well as other session work.
"Neanderthal Man" was created by the trio of Stewart, Godley and Creme as they dabbled with newly installed recording equipment at Strawberry Studios, perfecting drum layering on a four-track machine. (At that time, Gouldman was in New York City working out the final six months of his contract with Super K Productions.)
The song consisted primarily of a chanted chorus backed by Stewart's and Creme's acoustic guitars and a lumbering drum rhythm provided by Godley. The song was released as a single under the moniker Hotlegs and reached No.2 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1970 and No. 22 in the US, ultimately selling two million copies worldwide.
The band recorded a follow-up album, Thinks: School Stinks, for Philips before branding themselves as Doctor Father in August 1970 for a new version of "Umbopo" on Pye Records. The song was one they had originally recorded for Kasenetz and Katz for release under the name Crazy Elephant. Doctor Father's version failed to attract airplay or sales.
In October 1970 the band was invited to tour Britain with The Moody Blues. Gouldman, newly returned to the U.K., joined the band on bass, marking the gigs as the first at which the four future members of 10cc played live on stage. After just four shows, however, the tour was cancelled when John Lodge of the Moody Blues contracted a virus.
Gouldman recalled that the band returned to their homes in Manchester expecting something else to turn up. "But nothing happened," he said. "It was really quite amazing. We'd opened a tour with the Moody Blues ... we were expecting offers of work to arrive, but no one asked us to do anything. The next Hotlegs records flopped and we didn't get a single offer of work. It was extraordinary. We'd had a hit record that had sold two million copies and nobody wanted us."
Another single was released by Hotlegs in Britain – "Lady Sadie" (1971, a very naughty lyric with a standard arrangement) – and two others overseas ("Run Baby Run", US and "Desperate Dan", Germany and Spain), but none charted.
In 1976 Stewart, by then achieving success with 10cc, admitted: "'Lady Sadie' had no class and no originality. It was a very mediocre pop song." The album also presented a problem, he said: "That was so different to 'Neanderthal Man' that it was totally alien to what people were expecting from us. It was a good record, a little ahead of its time. It was similar to the things we are doing now. It was very melodic with chord structures that hadn't been used before – and some of the sounds that we used on that album hadn't been heard at the time."
The band returned to the studios to work with other performers. Stewart said: "We sat down one day and said, 'Hotlegs is defunct – let's face it.' And we decided to carry on with our production work."
Godley, in a 1976 interview, described the band as "doomed". "I'm afraid we blew the whole thing," he said. "The first thing we did was take a holiday, and because I'd never been able to afford a good holiday I flew off to Antigua. We'd been working ever since we'd left college and we were knackered, so Lol and I just bought the tickets to Antigua and off we went. We also bought cars as soon as we came back and then went into the studio to make the LP.
"We did the whole thing wrong. We should have stayed in England, gone on tour, made promotional appearances, given interviews to the Press and TV and so on, but we just vanished to Antigua. And when we came back Hotlegs had gone cold. The record had now gone out of the charts and no one had ever really discovered who we were. The follow-up single 'Lady Sadie' just bombed out and the album hardly sold at all – though I still say that was a bloody good album. Basically it included the songs and the ideas that we had been hoping to bring into that LP for Giorgio Gomelsky. Most of the tracks were from the Frabjoy period and it's an interesting LP."
After Thinks: School Stinks received worldwide release, it was repackaged (in the UK) by the Philips label in December 1971 (with the previously unissued "Today" replacing "Neanderthal Man") and again in Britain in 1976 as You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It with two additional songs. The title song of the British repackaged album had originally been the B-side of "Neanderthal Man"; part of it had also been reworked to become "Fresh Air for My Mama" on the 1973 debut album by 10cc.
Thinks: School Stinks was reissued by One Way Records in 1994 on CD. This edition included the line up from the original album release only.
You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It was reissued by 7T's (a division of Cherry Red) on 22 October 2012. The reissue featured a new cover commissioned for the new release and a booklet with information on the making of the album. The track listing includes all of the original tracks as well as the title track and the US stereo mix for "Neanderthal Man". This was the first CD release for the album which includes all the tracks that Stewart, Godley & Creme recorded as Hotlegs.
- Thinks: School Stinks – 1970/1994-CD release One Way Records
- Song – 1971 -repackage of above album, minus "Neanderthal Man" plus two tracks ("Today" and "Loser")
- You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It – 1976/2012 CD release on Grapefruit Records (contained all of the Hotlegs material)
- "Neanderthal Man" / "You Didn't Like it Because You Didn't Think of It" (1970)
- "Lady Sadie" / "The Loser" (UK, 1971)
- "Run Baby Run" / "How Many Times" (US, 1971)
- "Desperate Dan" / "Run Baby Run" (Germany and Spain, 1970)
- Q Rock Stars Encyclopedia, ed. Dafydd Rees & Luke Crampton, Dorling Kindersley, 1999. ISBN 0-7513-1113-8
- "10cc : A Pure Injection Of Pop". The10ccfanclub.com. 1997-04-11. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- George Tremlett (1976). The 10cc Story. Futura. ISBN 0-86007-378-5.
- "Hotlegs". Alexgitlin.com. 1998-04-26. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "HOTLEGS singles". Tencc.fan-site.net. Retrieved 2014-06-29.