RUSS CONWAY

Born Trevor Herbert Stanford, 2 September 1925, Bristol, England
Died 16 November 2000, Eastbourne, Sussex, England

Russ Conway became one of Britain's best loved TV musicians during the late 1950s. As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s he finally overtook the great Winifred Atwell as the piano player closest to the nation's heart. There is no doubt that he was an accomplished pianist despite being handicapped by the loss of a finger; an injury sustained in a domestic accident. He had started his professional career playing piano accom- paniment for some of the UK's best known singing stars, probably serving longest with Joan Regan. The volume of 45s (all on Columbia) issued by the pianist during the late 1950s was enormous in comparison with other popular artists of the time. Every opportunity was taken to record medleys of tunes that were in vogue; West End musicals were especially favoured. He even released a medley called 'Liverpool Pops' in 1963 in an attempt to benefit from the popularity of Merseybeat. Beside these issues were medleys like the 'Piano Pops' series and more regular releases with distinct 'A' and 'B' sides. Russ Conway's very successful chart career owed much to his abilities as a tunesmith. He wrote most of his most successful recordings including his two # 1 hits, 'Side Saddle' and 'Roulette', both from 1959. Although pianists were generally held in higher regard by record buyers than they are today, none of his competitors came even close to Conway's popularity or chart success. Although he never really sang much, his voice can be heard on the sentimental 'Always You And Me' (1962), the last of his 20 chart entries, on which he talks along rather than sings along with his piano playing. It was a favourite on BBC family request programmes for years. As record buying gradually became the domain of teenagers, Russ Conway's presence in the chart diminished and finally came to an end during 1963. However, he remained a popular TV performer until well into the next decade and had sufficient following to guarantee his future concert career. Russ Conway died after a long battle with cancer on November 16th 2000.

CD compilations like "The Best Of the EMI Years" and "The Collection" (Disky) feature re-recordings of Side Saddle, Roulette, China Tea, Snow Coach and Royal Event. So beware. Later hits like "Pepe" and "Lesson One" are the originals.

More info: http://www.onlineweb.com/theones/conway/russ_conway.htm http://home.wanadoo.nl/rock_and_roll/russ.htm

 
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