A potted biography by EDMUND WHITEHOUSE

 Although not known primarily as a light music composer, Phyllis Tate is nevertheless difficult to categorise and wrote some splendid tuneful music alongside her more serious scores.

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From the 1920s, until his death on 23 March 1977 at the age of 77, Billy Ternent was a highly respected figure in the British popular music scene.

He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 10 October 1899, and is reported to have been playing the violin by the age of seven. When only twelve his first job was playing in a trio accompanying the silent films at a North Shields cinema, and four years later he was conducting a cinema orchestra on a circuit owned by the theatrical impresario George Black. Radio didn’t arrive on the scene until Billy was well into his twenties, but he soon became involved in what was to become a major part of his life. His first broadcast was with a sextet from a tea-room in his native Newcastle.

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Long regarded as one of the leading figures in the field of light music, Ernest Tomlinson was born at Rawtenstall, Lancashire on September 19, 1924 into a musical family. He started composing when he was only nine, at about the same time that he became a choirboy at Manchester Cathedral, where he was eventually to be appointed Head Boy in 1939. Here, and at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School his musical talents were carefully nurtured, and he was only 16 when he won a scholarship to Manchester University and the Royal Manchester (now Northern) College of Music. He spent the next two years studying composition, organ, piano and clarinet until, in 1943, the war effort demanded that he leave and join the Royal Air Force. Defective colour-vision precluded his being selected for aircrew and the new recruit, having his request to become a service musician turned down on the grounds that he was too healthy to follow such a career, found himself being trained as a Wireless Mechanic, notwithstanding that many of the components he was required to work with were colour-coded! (The future composer, however, was duly delighted with his assignment, which he thoroughly enjoyed and which almost certainly contributed to a later interest in electronic music). He saw service in France during 1944 and 1945, eventually returning to England where, with the cessation of hostilities, he was able to resume his studies. He finally graduated in 1947, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Music for composition as well as being made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and an Associate of the Royal Manchester College of Music for his prowess on the King of Instruments.

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Long regarded as one of the leading figures in the field of light music, Ernest Tomlinson was born at Rawtenstall, Lancashire on September 19, 1924 into a musical family. He started composing when he was only nine, at about the same time that he became a choirboy at Manchester Cathedral, where he was eventually to be appointed Head Boy in 1939. Here, and at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School his musical talents were carefully nurtured, and he was only 16 when he won a scholarship to Manchester University and the Royal Manchester (now Northern) College of Music. He spent the next two years studying composition, organ, piano and clarinet until, in 1943, the war effort demanded that he leave and join the Royal Air Force. Defective colour-vision precluded his being selected for aircrew and the new recruit, having his request to become a service musician turned down on the grounds that he was too healthy to follow such a career, found himself being trained as a Wireless Mechanic, notwithstanding that many of the components he was required to work with were colour-coded! (The future composer, however, was duly delighted with his assignment, which he thoroughly enjoyed and which almost certainly contributed to a later interest in electronic music). He saw service in France during 1944 and 1945, eventually returning to England where, with the cessation of hostilities, he was able to resume his studies. He finally graduated in 1947, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Music for composition as well as being made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and an Associate of the Royal Manchester College of Music for his prowess on the King of Instruments.

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Sidney Torch, MBE, distinguished himself in two musical spheres. In his early years he gained a reputation as a brilliant cinema organist, but in the second half of his career he switched to composing and conducting Light Music, with even greater success.

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CYRIL WATTERS : An Unassuming Genius of Light Music
By DAVID ADES

Of all the many musicians I have met since 1956 at meetings of the Robert Farnon Society, few have been as modest and charming as Cyril Watters. He was a true gentleman, in every good sense of the word, and it was always a great pleasure to be in his company. Never one to promote his own music, he was always at great pains to compliment others on their work, which was amply confirmed during the many years that he guided the Light Music Society as its Secretary. This was during a difficult period of the 1960s, when the BBC and record companies seemed to be turning their backs on Light Music, but Cyril’s quiet persuasion undoubtedly benefited many of his colleagues in the profession.

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Paul Weston was one of the true ‘greats’ of the American Recording Industry of the 20th century, and he is credited with having been a pioneer of ‘mood music’ albums. He was around for a long time, so it is hardly surprising that his talent was employed in several different aspects during his highly successful career. Many top singers owe a great deal to him for the perfect backings he provided to their songs, often resulting in hit recordings. He also achieved considerable fame in his later life as ‘Jonathan Edwards’, the pianist who had difficulty keeping to the right tempo in those excruciatingly funny parodies of off-key singers so brilliantly portrayed by his wife, Jo Stafford, as ‘Darlene’.

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LOU WHITESON
Tony Clayden Salutes a Familiar Name from BBC Radio

Those who were regular listeners to BBC during the late ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and into the ‘80s will surely remember the name of Lou Whiteson.

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If you look closely at who composed much of the catchy Light Music we all so enjoyed in our youth, then one name stands out. All the more surprising, therefore, that he became a largely forgotten figure.

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The RFS US Representative spends a memorable day with one of his teenage idols

 Forrest Patten Meets Roger Williams

 What can I say? I've been a fan of Roger Williams ever since my Dad brought home a copy of his Kapp album BORN FREE back in 1967. As a budding pianist, I was looking for examples of popular songs of the day that I could pick up on and include in my own performance repertoire. Hearing Roger play, I realized almost instantly that he just doesn't "play a song"; he interprets the music in a very special way. That's what sets him a part from other musicians. He doesn't need to put on a splashy, Liberace-like stage show. When he performs in concert, his playing is all one needs to be instantly transported. From the stage, he talks to you like an old friend.

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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.