23 Feb

DAVID ADES (1938 - 2015)

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David Ades and Robert Farnon in 1997
David Ades and Robert Farnon in 1997

David Ades was Secretary and Treasurer of The Robert Farnon Society from 1962 until December 2013. For much of the time he also edited the society’s magazine Journal  Into Melody.

David Clive Ades was born in a Nursing Home in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex on 2 March 1938. Until he was 29 he lived in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex apart from a period during the Second World War when he was evacuated with his parents to Langley, near Slough. From 1956 to 1958 he did his National Service in the Royal Air Force.

After several years at Westleigh Junior School, David was educated at Westcliff High School For Boys  1949-1954. At school one of his close friends was John Baker (1937-1997), who would later achieve much praise for his work as a composer with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

He was employed by the Midland Bank from 16 August 1954 until he was made redundant on 30 April 1989. During his later career he was a Manager at branches in Northampton, Leicester, Eastwood and as part of a management team based in Mansfield.

His interest in music began as a young child through listening to the radio. At the age of seven a kind neighbour lent him a portable gramophone during convalescence from a long illness, and this prompted a lifetime's record collecting.

During the 1940s he enjoyed listening to the many light orchestras performing on the radio, and he was also fascinated by music used as signature tunes. A few were available on commercial 78s, but he soon discovered that many of them were recorded on special publishers' 78s not on sale to the general public. His frustration at not being able to obtain this music was made all the more intense when he began to recognise many pieces used in newsreels at the cinema.

In 1956 David joined the newly-formed Robert Farnon Appreciation Society where he met Robert Farnon and other musicians active in the world of Light Music. In 1962 he was proud to be asked by the founders Kenneth and Dorothy Head to take over as Secretary of the society.

As a result of visits to radio and television studios, and attending occasional recording sessions, his interest in the music scene grew ever stronger, and he became known to some people in the profession for his knowledge of light music.

His spare time for such activities was restricted due to his work commitments, but in 1972 he was approached by Polydor to write the sleeve notes for an album by Robert Farnon entitled "Portrait Of The West". This was the first of several similar commissions, until in 1988 Grasmere Records approached him to compile a collection of famous themes in their third volume of a successful series of LPs.

After being made redundant in 1989, he was able to devote more time to his interest in music, and in 1991 the US Record Company Reference Recordings asked him to write the notes for an important project featuring new recordings of some of Robert Farnon's more serious works.  He also contributed notes for three albums by Farnon with the American soprano Eileen Farrell.

From 1992 onwards he worked on several projects for EMI, including "Music For A Country Cottage" (when repackaged for HMV shops it reached their Top Ten list for several weeks), "Memories Of The Light Programme" and tributes to Sidney Torch, Charles Williams and George Melachrino. A film music CD entitled "British Film Music of the 1940s and 1950s" was widely praised, partly for the extensive booklet notes. Particularly successful was a 2-CD collection of 50 themes called "The Great British Experience", still available today, which prompted a sequel "The Great Sporting Experience" (Q magazine made it their compilation of the month). Following Ron Goodwin's sudden death in 2003, David quickly compiled a special 2-CD tribute for EMI.

Throughout the 1990s David worked with various London publishers assisting them to reissue some of their archive recordings on to CD. Major projects were handled for Chappell, Bruton, KPM and Atmosphere Music among others. For KPM David negotiated the purchase of the Charles Brull/Harmonic background music library, which had been inactive in administrators' hands for many years. He also arranged for Extreme Music to acquire a library of mood music from a leading German publisher.

In 1991 Marco Polo began recording a landmark series called "British Light Music", and David helped with information for several releases, as well as providing the complete booklet notes for Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Sidney Torch and Trevor Duncan. Other companies to commission notes and compilations from David included ASV/Sanctuary, Conifer, Naxos, Silva Screen, Jasmine.

Roy Oakshott, producer at BBC Radio-2, engaged David to compile a new series called "Legends Of Light Music" in 1995. As well as choosing the music, his brief included writing basic scripts for the presenters to embellish with their own personalities. Denis Norden introduced the first shows followed by a second series in 1997. Russell Davies introduced series three in 1998, with Bob Monkhouse hosting the final two series in 1999 and 2000. In total there were 33 half-hour editions of "Legends of Light Music".

Michael Dutton began a new series of easy listening CDs on his Vocalion label in 2000, and David was involved from the outset in helping to select the repertoire and writing many of the booklet notes. Over the next few years almost all of Robert Farnon's Decca albums were reissued on Vocalion, as well as 'classic' LPs by the likes of Stanley Black, Frank Chacksfield, George Melachrino, Mantovani and Cyril Stapleton. The archives at Rediffusion and EMI also revealed further treasures, and David was involved in over fifty releases during a busy period.

He also researched the archives of several leading publishers of production music (such as BMG, Chappell, Bruton, Charles Brull/Harmonic, Francis Day & Hunter, unterarmonicx KPM, Boosey & Hawkes, Bosworth, Paxton) resulting in many new CDs for professional users, thus enabling advertisers and film makers to use genuine vintage recordings to support their productions. More recently he worked with the Imperial War Museum providing music soundtracks for silent films in their archives which have now been made commercially available.

David wrote the script for several BBC radio documentaries about Robert Farnon, and assisted with a BBC television documentary about Light Music in 2005 - "A Little Light Music", narrated by Brian Kay. This was shown on BBC Four, and David briefly appeared on screen. But his main contribution was in helping with the script, providing photos, record sleeves and labels. Some video recordings he took of Robert Farnon recording with George Shearing at CTS Studios were also shown.

David was a guest on Brian Kay’s Light Programme on BBC Radio Three broadcast on 27 January 2005. In June 2011 BBC Radio Three presented a series of programmes about Light Music called "Light Fantastic". David assisted behind the scenes and was interviewed by Petroc Trelawny during the interval of the main Saturday evening concert in which John Wilson conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

He has contributed a number of musicians' biographies anonymously to the Guinness Encyclopaedia of Popular Music and also to the New Grove encyclopaedia where he received due credit.

From 2004 he was producer and compiler of the Guild Music "Golden Age of Light Music" series of CDs. As well as choosing the music and supervising the digital sound restoration (in the expert hands of Alan Bunting), David also wrote extensive booklet notes for each release. By the end of 2014 the 124th release had been reached, involving the restoration of around three thousand pieces of music, many of which might otherwise have been lost to posterity.

Other projects included the recording of programmes for the Internet Music Station Radio Six International  (radiosix.com) specialising in Light Music. He also received occasional requests for booklet notes from other record companies.

David died on 21st February 2015 at the age of 76.  He is survived by Moira, whom he married in 1967, his daughter, Fenella, and two grandsons, James and William.

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Read 7560 times Last modified on Monday, 23 February 2015 12:31

3 comments

  •  Pucelle posted by Pucelle Wednesday, 08 March 2017 18:45

    I feared the loss of David Ades,his name being absent from the last releases of the Guild Light series (I own a lot of items)and even if I'm late (RFS site lost among my favorites for months) it's a sad news Once he replied very kindily to my e-mail about his work for the series cited above
    From a curious species : a french music lover/record collector, fond of light music (53 y. old)

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  • Jim Stokes posted by Jim Stokes Sunday, 19 April 2015 05:28

    I just found out that David Ades died. How sad! I'm much indebted to him for publishing my two columns in the RFS magazine. Ironically, those were the only two I wrote for the magazine just before it ceased publication. However, I'd corresponded with him for several years before.

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  • Geoff posted by Geoff Tuesday, 24 February 2015 09:56

    Radio Six International will be paying tribute to David at 7 p.m. UK time on 24th February. The programme will be repeated on various occasions afterwards. The schedule can be found here: http://www.radiosix.com/schedule.html

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About Geoff 123
Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.