CD Duration: 63.08 / Year: 2016
April 2016 release of recordings made in 1966 & 1967 at the Granada, Mansﬁeld Wurlitzer and the Regal, Rotherham Conacher.
At the Granada, Mansﬁeld (Wurlitzer – 3 Manual, 8 Rank, Opus 2192):
Hello Dolly (Herman) / The Stein Song (Fenstad)
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Kern)
An Earful Of Music (Kahn) / Little Grey Home In The West (Lohr) / To A Wild Rose (Macdowell)
The Wedding March (Mendelssohn)
Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke) / The Opera Box (arr. John Madin) / Barcarolle From The Tales Of Hoffman (Offenbach) / William Tell Overture (Rossini) / Rhapsody No.2 (Liszt) / Csárdás (Monti) / Encore: The Very Thought Of You (Noble).
At the Regal, Rotherham (Conacher, 3 Manual, 9 Rank):
Lara’s Theme (Jarre) / Anchors Aweigh (Zimmerman)
Selection from Showboat (Kern): Old Man River / Only Make Believe / Life Upon the Wicked Stage / Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man O’ Mine / Why Do I Love You / You Are Love
I Dream of Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair (Foster) / I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman (Cook/Greenaway) / Forgotten Dreams (Anderson) / Ballet Egyptian (Luigini) / Ave Maria (Schubert) / The Breeze and I (Lecuona) / Dreaming (Joyce) / Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Berlin) / Always (Berlin) / Here’s to the Next Time (Hall) / How Deep is the Ocean (Berlin) / Blue Skies (Berlin) / A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody (Berlin) / There’s No Business Like Show Business (Berlin).
John certainly was… in the Derbyshire town of Chesterfield on May 1st, 1912.
His Father, Richard, ran a retail business in the town and in later years, this was to be developed into a centre for electronic organs, following the boom years of the home organ. But John’s playing career had started much earlier. Like so many fellow organists, this began with piano lessons, progressing to the church organ and, perhaps, surprisingly, to the cinema organ at the age of 17. This may have only been at an obscure cinema in Sheffield, but such was his prowess, two years later he made his first broadcast from Coventry, when the medium was still very much in its infancy.
For many years he was associated with Granada Theatres and regularly broadcast from two of that company’s flagship cinemas at Clapham Junction and Tooting. His delightful cultured voice being ideally suitable for the airwaves which were still influenced by the severe moral principles of Sir John Reith (a brief sample is featured on this recording).
Like many, his career was interrupted in 1939 and he was to spend five years in the Royal Air Force, although music was very much a part of his military life. He was attached to the R.A.F. Central Band, forming small ensembles which entertained at many fighter and bomber stations around Britain, often co-operating with fellow organist, Reginald Dixon.
When peace returned and the people of Britain tried to recover from the ravages of war, it was the world of entertainment that was to fill the void and radio and cinemas would be where the organ became an everyday feature. John was heard regularly on BBC ‘wireless’, varying between the ‘Light’ programme, the ‘Home Service’ and the ‘Forces’ programme.
Through the late 1940s he slipped naturally into the same routine and like so many of his contemporaries, adapted to the changes as the world of cinema organs began to decline. In changing to the growing appeal of the electronic organ, he became a popular figure on the organ club scene and was always game to take on the challenge of a cinema organ, often at venues where there had been very little recent maintenance.
These recordings were made in 1966 (Mansfield) and 1967 (2 concerts at Rotherham).
…Ken Mellor, OK Rollem Productions.