Their first album, Permission to Land, was made on the cheap in about two weeks but was wildly successful in the UK, where it sold over a million copies and earned the BRIT award for Best Album. Their second album, One Way Ticket to Hell and Back, took a lot longer and cost roughly $2 million. It sold closer to 100,000 copies.
Before forming The Darkness, Justin and Dan Hawkins were in a prog-rock band called Empire, with Dan, instead of Justin, on lead vocals. Justin became lead singer after he did Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in a karaoke competition at a millennium eve party. He acted out every line and did lots of star-jumps.
The Hawkins' brothers grew up in Lowestoft, Surrey. Drummer Ed Graham was in the same class at school as Dan, the younger brother. They met bass player Frankie Poullain, a Scot, whilst living in London.
Tom - Trowbridge, England, for above 2
Justin Hawkins paid for The Darkness' first album by penning advertising jingles. He told The Guardian: "It was TV adverts. I did HSBC, Tango, Mars bars, Irn Bru, the Sunday Express gardening supplement TV ad."
Founder member and drummer Ed Graham left the band in 2014 and was replaced by Emily Dolan Davies. Justin Hawkins told UK's Classic Rock magazine of their stickwoman, who has previously worked with Bryan Ferry and Tricky. "She's got the chops and the attitude that you need to be The Darkness's drummer. She also makes us feel like dirty old men."
After the band's huge early success with debut album Permission to Land in 2003, things became trickier for them - second album One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back was a difficult follow-up, and then in October 2006 the band announced their breakup after Justin Hawkins left the band to enter rehab for drug abuse. He later revealed he had spent nearly £150,000 in three years on cocaine (which would explain the cocaine references in songs such as "One Way Ticket") and had grown tired of the grind of being in a band, touring, recording, promotional work and so on.
Whilst The Darkness were split up post-2006, several side projects emerged. Justin Hawkins performed solo under the name British Whale, attempting to enter the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007 and previously having success with a 2005 cover of the 1974 Sparks song "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us." He also formed a band named Hot Leg, which toured extensively and released an album Red Light Fever. Meanwhile, the rest of The Darkness made a new hard rock band called the Stone Gods, with Richie Edwards on lead vocals. They also released an album, Silver Spoons and Broken Bones, in 2008, and toured in support of Airbourne and Black Stone Cherry during their existence.
By early 2011, both side projects (Hot Leg and Stone Gods) were on hiatus, leading to mutterings that the original Darkness lineup could reunite. They indeed reunited in March 2011 and played the Download Festival that year. They toured extensively for the rest of the year, and several UK shows featured appearances from comedian Rufus Hound and Queen guitarist Brian May (often playing on Darkness songs "Bareback" and "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" as well as a cover of the Queen song "Tie Your Mother Down"). In 2012 came the comeback album Hot Cakes with "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" released as the lead single in February 2012.
In 2015, the band announced that drummer Emily Dolan Davies, who had played the drums on their Last of Our Kind record, was leaving the band. Four days after this announcement, the band's official Facebook page declared her replacement to be Rufus Taylor - the son of Queen drummer Roger Taylor. Rufus had previously drummed for several projects, including as part of Kerry Ellis' backing band on solo tours and with Queen themselves.
Asked by Classic Rock
magazine what kind of stuff he and his brother grew up listening to and getting into, Dan Hawkins replied: "We listened to a very varied, wide range of music, but the things that we really both together gravitated to were the sort of similar sort of artists like Queen, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and Abba. And the Eagles, actually. That's one that we've just not talked about really, never really sort of bandied around much."
"Justin and I could play the two guitar parts," he added, "the solos at the end of 'Hotel California
' when were like like 12 or 13 years old. That sort of thing informs you at that age."
Justin Hawkins studied media studies at Lowestoft College, specialising in photography. He told Kerrang!: "It's a big part of my life, taking pictures."