The many fans of Russ Conway will already know the life story of the former sailor who, after a vari-ety of jobs, accidentally fell into showbusiness. Those who have not been fans in the past will be looking to this EP collection to fill a gap in their own musical collection or to introduce them to an artiste who, over the years has done just about everything in popular entertainment.
Russ Conway has made countless records. this See For Miles EP collection shows some of the different types of recordings he has made; he has appeared at most of the leading variety theatres throughout the country including several seasons at the London Palladium and has broadcast hundreds of times on radio and TV. There were one or two brief excur-sions into films but he was and always will be Russ Conway the pianist. This EP collection includes items that have proven popular with the fans but are no longer available, and others which are real collectors items. Between October 1957 and May 1967 Columbia records issued 35 EPs by pianist Russ Conway, no less than 13 of which were also available in stereo. On these 35 EPs were 172 tracks containing a total of 224 tunes! So you can see there was no shortage of material from which to choose for this EP collec-tion, the problem was deciding what to leave out! Russ Conway was born Trevor Herbert Stanford in the Bedminster district of Bristol on 2nd Sep-tember 1925, the youngest son of a commercial traveller. Ac a very early age he demonstrated a natural talent for music and can never remember a time when he couldn't play the piano. He can only recall having one piano lesson in his life, and played truant, preferring to spend the piano lesson money in the local cinema.
After leaving school, he entered a Merchant Navy Training School and after this went to sea. Later he joined the Royal Navy. After the war, he tried a number of jobs, but could not settle down so he rejoined the Royal Navy again. However, he was discharged in 1948 because of a stomach complaint. Still having difficulties with life in civvy street Russ decided to re-join the Merchant Navy, which was to be the last time. In 1955 the old illness caught up with him again and his sea-going days were over. One day, when he was back in London, he met an old friend who, remembering his piano playing talent, suggested that he stood in for a club pianist who was going on holiday. Russ took the job but was uncertain whether his style of play-ing would be suitable. A visitor to the club that night was Choreographer Irvin Davis. Irvin was so impressed with the Conway style and ability, that he offered him a job as his rehearsal pianist. Irvin asked Russ to write a new tune for a slot he had at the Radio Show at Earls Court which was to be televised by the BBC. Russ took up the challenge although he was apprehensive as he had never writ-ten anything original before. The tune, was called 'Primera', and was arranged by Arthur Wilkinson and conducted by the legendry Eric Robinson. Russ still considers this to be one of the all time highs of his career. Through Irvin Davis, Russ later joined forces with Columbia Record Producer or Artiste and Repertoire Manager as they were then called) Norman Newell, firstly as an audition pianist for other artists and later in a songwriting partnership. They wrote many successful songs which were recorded by various artistes of such as Joan Regan, Dennis Lotis, Lita Rosa and Gracie Fields, Russ also worked as a stage accompanist to them and others including Dorothy Squires and Adelaide Hall. He also worked for a while with the music publish-ing firm Chappell's as a song plugger, a job which at the time he disliked but which he admits gave him lots of experience and was to prove useful in his subsequent recording career. One day in 1955, a familiar face walked into his office. It was a new up and coming star, who had just recorded 'The Yellow Rose Of Texas', a song Russ was plugging. Russ rec-ognised the face as Michael Milne, an old friend from his Royal Navy days but Michael Milne had changed his name to become singer Michael Holliday.
Early in 1957 Norman Newell was given a tune to record by Chappell's boss, Teddy Holmes. Norman wanted to record it with pianist Ken Morris. Ken wasn't available and Russ was asked to play the tune to demonstrate the sound. Teddy liked what he heard and the culmination was the start of what was to become one of the greatest solo instrumen-tal acts ever. However Newell was not happy with the name Terry Stanford as a stage name. and the name Russ Conway was born. Conway from Newell's early recording association with singer Steve Conway, and Russ from the Russ Henderson Trinidad Steel Band, an act Newell was currently involved with Steve Conway didn't make it, but Russ Conway did. In November 1957 Russ had his first chart success when the medley 'Party Pops' reached number 24 in the charts. Later in 1958 the 'Party Pops' medley was combined with a medley of Scottish tunes to form the EP called 'Party Pops'. In October 1957 Russ's debut EP called 'Happy Anniversary (The Complete Party Record)' was issued. This EP was a collection of tunes suitable for all types of festive occasions. Until now none of the tracks from this EP have ever appeared on any other record. 'Soho Fair/The Spotlight Waltz' was Russ Conway's second single, and was issued in July 1957 Later it was combined with his first single 'Roll The Carpet Up/The Westminster Waltz' to produce the EP called simply 'Russ Conway'.The 1958 EP 'Picture Pops' and 'Pal Joey Pops', featured here. In 1958 Russ had his own Granada TV series called At Your Request', and he made occasional appear-ances on shows like 'Six Five Special'. Towards the end of the year, showman and band leader, Billy Cotton, was looking for an instrumental feature for his very popular BBC TV Band Show. Bill Cotton Inc who produced his father's shows, remembered Russ from an appearance he had made on a 'Six Five Special' programme from South Wales a few weeks earlier. Russ was invited to appear. After the show, Bill asked Russ if he would like to appear in the next show and from this point he became a regular part of the show. In 1958 Russ played a new composition on the Billy Cotton Band Show called 'Side Saddle', which he had written himself. He recorded it and by Easter 1959 'Side Saddle' was right at the top of the charts. Not only was the record at the top of the record charts, but the sheet music was also at the top of the sheet music chart as well and was one of the all time top selling pieces.
The Russ Conway style has inspired many pianists over the years. Recently classical pianist, Peter Donohue, has acknowledged his professional debt to Russ. Indeed Donohue included 'Side Saddle' as one of his 8 desert island discs. After its tremendous success a single, where it stayed for an incredible 30 weeks in the charts, 'Side Saddle' was issued on an EP called 'Another Six'. Many Russ Conway EPs featured six, rather than the usual 4 tracks and 'Another Six', as the name suggests. was one of them. Apart from the million selling number one single, 'Side Saddle' and its popular B side 'Pixilated Penguin', the other 4 titles had not been previously issued, making it an essential record for the fans' collections. 'Another Six' reached number 12 in the EP chart. In 1966, fol-lowing a stroke where Russ lost the use of his left hand for a while, Norman Newell arranged a recording session for Russ. The idea was for him to re-record many of his earlier recordings for release on the Music For Pleasure budget label. At this ses-sion all six tracks featured on 'Another Six' were recorded again. 'Wedgewood Blue' changed its title (and its colour!) at this re-recording to become 'Golden Guilders'. However, the session was so successful that there was enough time for another album to be recorded. Strangely, the version of 'Side Saddle' recorded in 1966 is often mistaken for the original 1959 recording. Make no mistake, on this EP collection is the genuine original article! 31 years later in 1990, EMI awarded Russ a Gold Disc for 'Side Saddle' (who said better late than never!). Winifred Atwell was busy recording and perform-ing Rags and Boogies in the fifties, but in May 1959 Russ gave us a taste of ragtime, Russ Conway style, when the EP 'Out Of The Rag Bag' was released. The title hardly reflects the material inside this Rag Bag — four ragtime classics. The tune 'The Rocking Horse Cowboy', is another joint composition by Russ and Norman Newell. It was originally featured by the late Billy Cotton. In 1960 Columbia Records released the hit EP 'The Rocking Horse Cowboy' which was a collection of 5 cowboy songs plus the title track. The importance of Billy Cotton on Russ Conway's career has already been described, and during the sixties Russ continued to make regular appearances on the show until Billy Cotton died in 1969. Just about all the top acts guested on the show at one time or another and other lesser known stars got their first breaks.
It was Russ's suggestion that gave Tom Jones his first appearance on the show when he had just recorded 'It's Not Unusual'. It was also the first TV appearance for comedian Roy Hudd who was sincerely grateful to Russ for helping him overcome his stage nerves. Incidentally, those magical Saturday nights can be re-lived on (See For Miles' subsidiary label C Five Records) an album called 'Wakey Wakey - The Billy Cotton Band Show'(CS 513), released in wonderful stereo for the first time ever (even though the disc states mono). Russ Conway's fascination and love of the sea has already been mentioned. It is therefore very appropriate that this EP collection should start with a tune called 'The Call Of The Sea', another joint composition with Norman Newell. In 1960 Russ recorded an LP of semi-classical compositions, film themes, etc., with full orchestral accompani-ment, as an alternative to the highly popular honky tonk recordings. This album, which was called 'My Concerto For You', was so successful that three more similar albums were recorded during the six-ties. 'The Call Of The Sea' originally appeared on the second 'Concerto' LP and was reissued on the EP 'Concerto For Dreamers' in 1962. 'The Dark Town Strutters Ball' was the opening track to the 1960 hit LP 'Party Time'. In 1962 it was released on the EP 'The Naughty Twenties'. 'Ragtime Cowboy Joe' comes from the 1960 EP 'Ragtime', originally released on Russ's second LP 'Pack Up Your Troubles' in 1958. Although 'Ragtime' didn't make the charts, 'Pack Up Your Troubles' did, and was one of three Russ Conway albums in the first album top ten chart of the six-ties. It is perhaps worth mentioning here that Russ was awarded the first silver disc for sales of 250,000 LPs. Columbia Records continued releasing Russ Conway EP's until 1967 His last EP was called 'Always You And Me' and this included his last his single with the same title. The track featured here, called 'Falling Tears', was originally issued as a single two years earlier-. 'Let The Great Big World Keep Turning' majesti-cally brings the first part of this collection to a close and originates from the EP (and LP) 'Something For Mum'. The orchestrations on the disc were arranged by Brian Fahay.
The second part of this collection is almost entirely devoted to the very popular Russ Conway medleys. There were many of them and several made the charts. 'More and More Party Pops' reached number 5 in November 1959 and the medley was re-issued on the EP 'Even More Party Pops' in 1961. The 'More Party Pops' EP was created out of the 1958 'More Party Pops' single, but side two of this EP has never been released before and until now has not been reissued since. 'More Party Pops' was Russ Conway's most successful ER at least as far as the charts are concerned, reaching number 7 and staying in the charts for a total of 8 weeks. 'Musical Chairs' originates from the very early EP called 'Musical Chairs and Palais Glide'. This was different from any other EP being continuous medleys on both sides. 'Musical Chairs' has never been re-issued until now. The Collection closes with 'I'll Be Seeing You'. Not only seeing but hearing as well, as Russ joins in the vocals at the end of the tune. This, the closing track from the LP 'Once More Its Party Time', was sub-sequently reissued on the EP 'Party Time Pops' in 1966. During the Seventies and Eighties Russ has con-tinued to make records and has recently formed his own company called 'Churchill Records'.Television appearances are all too rare these days, but the theatres are always full whenever he appears, prov-ing his popularity is still as great as it was long ago in the fifties and sixties. The Russ Conway Fan Club provides information about records and appearances.
Article properties: Russ Conway: The EP Collection (LP)
Komponist, Pianist und Sänger aus Bristol England, geboren 1925, verstorben am 16. Nov. 2000. Russ Convanys grösste Erfolge hatte er zwischen 1957 und 1962, seine Songs Side Saddle und Roulette belegten für Wochen die ersten Plätze der Charts in England. Russ Convay starb im Alter von 75 Jahren in Eastbourn England.