Once hailed as the natural heir to Freddie Mercury, Justin Hawkins was the flamboyant catsuit-wearing frontman of glam rock outfit the Darkness, until the pressures of fame derailed his career at the height of the band's success. Born in Chertsey, Surrey in 1975, Hawkins previously studied music technology at college, wrote advert jingles, and fronted heavy metal band the Commander before teaming up with his guitarist brother Dan, bassist Frankie Poullain, and drummer Ed Graham to form the Darkness, who went on to sell three million copies of their debut album, Permission to Land, win three Brit Awards, and narrowly miss out on the 2004 Christmas number one. In 2005 Hawkins scored a Top Ten hit with a cover of Sparks' "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us" under the guise of British Whale, but following the disappointing reaction to the Darkness' sophomore One Way Ticket to Hell...and Back, he was admitted to the Priory with alcohol and cocaine problems, a development that resulted in him leaving the band in late 2006. A year later, he entered Making Your Mind Up, the BBC's search to find the U.K. entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, with soul singer Beverlei Brown, but his track, "They Don't Make ‘Em Like They Used To," lost out to bubblegum pop group Scooch's "Flying the Flag." Originally intending to release a solo album entitled Panther, he instead used his newly penned tracks for a new band, Hot Leg, whose debut album, Red Light Fever, appeared in 2008. Hawkins has since guested on albums by Meat Loaf, Def Leppard, and Steel Panther; produced Saving Aimee's debut, We're the Good Guys; and played Screaming Lord Sutch in the Joe Meek biopic Telstar. ~ Jon O'Brien
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