Van Hooke grew up in Stanmore, Middlesex and attended Mill Hill school. His schoolmate Chaz Jankel (later of The Blockheads) lived close by, and the two formed The Call of The Wild. This band became the Rik Parnell Independence, featuring the son of bandleader Jack Parnell as vocalist (later to join Atomic Rooster as drummer, and take the part of the drummer in the movie Spinal Tap).
He was also in demand as a session drummer in the 70s and 80s, and was one of the first UK drummers to own a set of Syndrums, initially coming to prominence on the Marshall Hain hit "Dancing in the City". He joined Stackridge in time to play on their 1976 album Mr. Mick, though the band broke up not long after.