There had been a few gaps due to Russ going into hospital at the time that China Tea was released. Panto time was around and the one off concerts went into rest mode until the new year of 1960.
Towards the end of 1959 Russ had been preparing and recording his new L.P. My Concerto For You and pre–recording a 10 week series for BBC television which promised to be something very special. This was all in addition to a 30 week series for the BBC Light Programme during which Russ was captured by Eamomn Andrews for This Is Your Life. He had also been preparing and recording a new single called Royal Event to celebrate the opening of a new theatre owned by his agent, Richard Armitage, in Lowestoft. The B side of this new single was Russ’s arrangement of Rule Britannia! as used as the theme tune for Farson’s Guide to the British and like Roll The Carpet Up, much requested by viewers. You can read about Royal Event elsewhere.
So the eventful 1959 turned into the very busy 1960. Bookings had been made for Russ to appear just about everywhere plus many more radio and tv appearances. In this year Russ decided to reorganise his Fan Club under his control with the assistance of Carole Wayne or Hazel Smith as was her real name. A quarterly magazine was issued and regular News Letters to keep the fans up to date with Russ’s many activities.
Russ undertook various tours, some were variety weeks and others were one night shows.
Feb 21 NME Poll Winners Concert at the Empire Pool Wembley. Russ played Windows of Paris, Forgotten Dreams, Side Saddle, sang Time after Time played My Concerto For You and ended with Royal Event.
Feb 28 Plymouth Odeon
Mar 6 Cheltenham Odeon
Mar 13 Doncaster Odeon
Mar 19 Morecambe Floral Hall
Mar 20 Chester Odeon
Mar 27 Derby Odeon
Russ played a programme similar to the Wembley Show except he sang All The Way. He was supported at some venues by The Peter Crawford Trio, Bert Weedon, Eddie Falcon, The Debbie Sisters, Rosa Goldi, The Key Sisters and Henry, The Peter Crawford Trio and the compere was Terry Scott. At others Rosa Goldi was replaced by Sheila Buxton, the singer from the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra.
Apr 25 Hull ABC
May 2 Southampton Gaumont
Jun 3 London Palladium opening night of Stars In Your Eyes. On the bill were Cliff Richard, Joan Regan, Des O’Connor, Len Parry, Billy Dainty and Edmund Hockridge. The show was set to run until the Panto season but Russ had to leave in early December due to damaging his hand after falling down some stairs at the theatre. Although his act changed from time to time as new records were released, at the opening he played, My Concerto for You, Passing Breeze, Royal Event, sang Never the Less, and duetted with Joan Regan with Why don’t we do this more often. He continued with Lucky Five and the symphonic variations hits medley. While he was at the Palladium Russ had decided not to undertake any Sunday concerts except for just two who he had let down the previous year when he went into hospital.
Aug 14 Worthing Pavilion. All 2200 tickets sold out in 6 hours.
Dec 4 Bath Forum
Into 1961 and as the previous year ended Russ was filming a series for ATV to be shown while he was out of the country in January 1961. This series was watched by more people than ever before creating a new viewing record.
On March 5th Russ performed at the NME Poll winners concert at Wembley and then it was straight to Coventry for rehearsals and a seven week season at the Coventry Theatre for its Spring Show along with Jimmy Clitheroe, Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Wheeler and The Kaye Sisters. Russ played Windows of Paris, Side Saddle, Late Extra, Parade of the Poppets a sing song medley and ended with The Singing Bells.
Next it was to Brighton for the Summer Show of 1961 for 10 weeks starting on June 3rd. With Russ were Freddie Mills, Alfred Marks Denis Newey and The Brooks Bros., Janie Marden and Pat Coombs. Russ played Side Saddle, Passing Breeze, Parade of the Poppets, Late Extra and Three Shades of Blue.
Next Russ embarked upon a national tour to promote Toy Balloons.
Sep 29 Plymouth Odeon
Sep 30 Taunton
Oct 1 Bristol Colston Hall
Oct 8 Belfast Opera House
Oct 16 Dublin Theatre Royal
Nov 3 Exeter ABC
Nov 4 Bournemouth Gaumont
Nov 5 Portsmouth Guildhall
Nov 10 Derby Gaumont
Nov 11 East Ham Granada
Nov 12 Wolverhampton Gaumont
Nov 15 Bedford Granada
Nov 16 Greenford Gaumont
Nov 17 Sutton Granada
Nov 24 Mansfield Granada
Nov 25 Rugby Granada
Nov 26 Leicester De Montfort Hall
Dec 1 Maidstone Granada
Dec 2 Slough Adelphi
Dec 3 Kettering Granada
With Russ were The Reg Wale Four (including Denny Piercy from Parade of the Pops on the drums), Scott Peters, Sylvia Sands, Johnny Laycock and Bee, The Lana Sisters (including Dusty Springfield) and Bill Maynard.
November 1961 Autumn Tour Review with Program & Cover
At the end of the year Russ went on a tour of UK forces at overseas bases taking in;-
Dec 13 Cyprus
Dec 29 El Adem
Jan 1 & 2 Benghazi
Jan 3 Tripoli
Jan 8 Malta
On Christmas Day Russ was the Cyprus link man in a Five way Family Favourites on the Light Programme.
1962 brought another season in the spring and one in the summer as well as another tour and another series for the Light Programme of nine weeks in the summertime.
Mar 1 Southampton Guildhall
Mar 4 Nottingham Theatre Royal
Mar 7 to Apr 14 Liverpool Empire “Wonderful Time” with Russ were The Springfields, Janie Marden, Mike and Bernie Winters, Paul Andrews and Terry Kaye.
May 2 Berlin
May 5 Hilversum
Jun 8,9,10,11, Parade Theatre Skegness
Aug 6 Odeon Weston-Super-Mare for four weeks with Dorothy Squires, The Reg Wale Four, The Polka Dots, Jo Jac And Joni, Don Charles or Frank Ifield, Garth Meade, Jacqueline and the Charles Dancers and Norman Percival and his Orchestra. Frank Ifield was engaged many weeks earlier for just £25 a week in the week that saw him at No 1 with I Remember You. Such is life.
Aug 19 Recorded Russ Conway’s Sing Song Medley
Oct 1 Newcastle Empire
Oct 8 Manchester Palace
Oct 15 Birmingham Hippodrome
Oct 22 Nottingham Theatre Royal
Apart from Weston the supports were Mike and Bernie Winters, Bryan Johnson, Sandra Peters, Terry Kaye and the Peter Crawford Trio. Russ played Primera, Side Saddle, Lesson One, Skye Boat Song, Hits Medley and Three Shades of Blue. Then came something a bit different.
In 1962 Russ made a departure from his normal Honky Tonk or Concert recordings to issue a record of himself reciting a lyric by Lionel Bart set to Russ’s composition Concerto For Dreamers. The words were homage from Lionel to Alma Cogan for whom he had a great love. It was thought that Russ could record this and things were set in motion – slow motion as it turned out.
Despite what had been written when the record came out, it was not new to many people who had been members of the audience during his three month Spring tour as Russ had used it to close his act at each performance in order to gauge reaction leading up to actually recording it. He also tried different inflections to see how it could be done until eventually all was ready and the recording was made.
As you know Concerto For Dreamers runs to 4.5 minutes and this was considered too long for a UK single. On stage Russ repeated part of the lyric to cover the time but not on the record. While discussions continued a copy was sent to America where a decision was taken to release it as it was.
In the UK it was decided to re-write the arrangement and re-record it all so that there were no gaps. This cut one minute from the original but was still considered to be too long- so what to do. Finally the decision was made to go back to the original recording and edit out the gaps which was done and this version was released and entered the charts in November 1962. The label on the disc said it was Russ with Geoff Love and his orchestra which it would have been if the re-make version had been used.
As it was the version used was Russ with Michael Collins and his orchestra as used on Concerto For Dreamers. But what of the re-make. Russ always referred to the single as the re-make version and when issued on an E.P., so it was referred as such again.
But it never was until many years later when EMI issued a series called the best of the EMI Years….. and Russ was featured in the series. The compilation and sleeve notes were by journalist Chris White and he obviously looked at the biography and titles and came up with a package he knew little or nothing about. As a result, many incorrect recordings and “takes” were used including the re-recorded version of Always You and Me and a very inferior Album was released. Bob Gunn and myself contacted EMI to point out these incorrect recordings and they came up with another version which was still incorrect. We visited Abbey Road and eventually got the whole thing sorted out and a corrected version of the Album was released. The only trouble was the original had a yellow cover and the corrected one had a blue cover but the number was the same which caused some problems as both versions were in the shops. So if you have a yellow copy it should contain the re-recorded version of Always You and Me while the blue copy has the original single release copy which is superior anyway.
Such was the popularity of this item that Russ continued to perform it right up until his death.
1963 saw Russ back in hospital again due to another bone injury. He was able to complete some dates but which were left out is a bit hazy.
Apr 15-20 Princess Theatre Torquay
Apr 22-27 Kings Theatre Southsea
Apr29-May4 Alhambra Theatre Bradford
May 6-11 Gaumont Shrewsbury
May 13-18 Kings Theatre Glasgow
May 20-25 Kings Theatre Edinburgh
June 2 Spa Royal Hall Bridlington
June 3-8 Floral Hall Scarborough. - Russ collapsed on stage and was ordered home by a Doctor and complete rest was advised. Russ wanted to recover in time for his Summer Season at Llandudno on 1st July - which he did.
Big Night Out with Russ Conway.
Just visible on this picture postcard of the Promenade and Pier Pavilion Llandudno on sale circa 1964.
July 1 - Big Night Out Summer Season. Ten weeks at the Pier Pavilion Llandudno with Bill Maynard, Pat Lancaster, Bryan Johnson and The Peter Crawford Trio. Russ played Side Saddle, The Skye Boat Song, he sang Sonny Boy, then played Three Shades of Blue, Roulette and Always You and Me.
Sep 1 Opera House, Blackpool
Sep 15 New Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Dec 2 Battersea Town Hall
1964 brought a very successful tour of South Africa as follows:-
DURBAN, Feb 24 - 26
PORT ELIZABETH Feb 27 – 28
EAST LONDON Feb 29
CAPETOWN Mar 2-7
KLERKSDORP Mar 9
JOHANNESBERG Mar 10 – 14
Mar 23-28 Bristol Hippodrome
Mar 30 - Apr 4 Wolverhampton Grand
Apr 6-11 Oxford New
Following the death of Michael Holiday, Russ decided to mount a tribute show and formed a committee to get it all under way. Proceeds would be for the education of Michael’s son.
The show was held at the Prince of Wales theatre on April 19 and included a recorded message from Bing Crosby. Russ played with the overture, The Story of My Life and Skylark and opened the second half with a splendid arrangement by Ronnie Hazlehurst of The Spartans.
Apr 20-25 Nottingham Theatre Royal
Apr 27-May 2 Brighton Hippodrome
May 4 -9 Sheffield Lyceum
Whit Week at Wimbledon Theatre in a show presented by Arthur Lane, Russ’s wartime Commanding Officer.
Left: 1964 Spring Tour Programme.
Right: Wimbledon Theatre Whit Week Flyer.
Jun 28 Floral Hall Scarborough
Jul 5 Pavilion Bournemouth
Jul 19 Opera House Blackpool
Aug 9 Spa Royal Hall Bridlington
Aug 23 Cliffs Pavilion Southend
Aug 30 Pavilion Bournemouth
Sep 13 Opera House Blackpool
Oct 3 Civic Theatre Darlington
Oct 4 Victoria Hall Halifax
Russ played Sweet September, The Spartans, sang Hello Dolly, Liverpool Pops, Old Time Medley, Londonderry Air, Hits medley, Till, Autumn Concerto and The story of a starry night and ended with Always You and Me.
In 1965 the same old theatres come round again as the number still in operation seems to get less and less and even the old cinemas that staged pop concerts were being pulled down.
Mar 15 -20 Princess Theatre Torquay
Mar 29 - Apr 3 Hippodrome Birmingham
Apr 18 Opera House Blackpool
Apr 19-24 Davenport Theatre Stockport
Jun 5-Sep 25 The Happy Holiday Show Winter Gardens Bournemouth with Kathy Kirby and Adele Leigh.
Jul 4 Opera House Blackpool
Aug 1 Congress Eastbourne
Aug 15 Cliffs Pavilion Southend
In the autumn Russ carried out many television engagements and was busy recording as well but he suffered a stroke on 9th December and had to curtail his activities to convalesce.
The start of 1966 was going to be a make or break time for Russ. A long recording session had been booked to see how he would fare and the result was good and two LP’s were completed. He was writing a comeback tune for a single release and was going to call it “Stroke of Luck” but his Doctor told him not to push it so it became “The Crunch” and Russ gave it a launch when he opened at The London Palladium on 6th May with Harry Secombe, Anita Harris and Jimmy Tarbuck in the summer revue, London Laughs which would run until Christmas. Russ sang and danced with Jimmy Tarbuck in a night club scene and in his own act he played a Hit parade medley, The Little Leprechaun, Falling Tears, More, Elusive Butterfly and The Crunch.
There were various one nighters that year.
Mar 28 – Apr 2 Grove Theatre Belfast
Apr 10 Spa Royal Hall Bridlington
Apr 23 Holland Radio Show
Aug 7 Wellington Pier Great Yarmouth
Aug 28 Wellington Pier Great Yarmouth
During the Palladium run, Russ had a Tuesday morning show for 14 weeks on the Light Programme with music and guests. It was a most enjoyable series.
As the season at the Palladium came to an end Russ had already decided to slow down in 1967. He was planning to do another tour of South Africa but contracts were proving difficult but he pressed on and eventually it all turned out well. He decided that a season of Sunday night concerts at Margate would be fine for the UK and then give him time to re think his activities. These concerts with Norman Percival, the Betty Smith Quintet, Leslie Adams Glenda Collins, Peter Cavanagh (the voice of them all) Dottie Wayne and Leslie Adams ran every Sunday from ,July 16th to September 3rd. and then that was it.
RUSS CONWAY ON STAGE
For a long time there have been requests for a detailed feature about the various tours and seasons that Russ Conway embarked upon and the many different venues at which he appeared and entertained. I started to compile such a “list” some time ago and soon realised that it was going to be more than a record of dates and places and it would have to come from already available published information. This could mean that errors might occur but that may be inevitable as there were often last minute revisions. Sometimes a new venue was arranged and details only appeared in that places local press and local advertising boards.
It would be important for the names of supporting acts to be given as well as the tunes that Russ played. This part is not always easy as in latter years Russ tended to play the same tunes with just a few variations depending upon requests sent in. You will see though, the same applied in the early years as once an act was set Russ tended to use it for quite a while. It is also surprising to see that some features came and went and often re-appeared as if new which they might well have been if converts were attending that night. One such is “Three Shades of Blue” which Russ introduced in his first Summer Season at St Anne’s On Sea in 1958 and it came out for airings several times over the years and on television. It always proved a popular feature.
In researching and compiling all this I have read and re-read many of the press cuttings of the day and News Letters from the original Fan Club to glean and confirm information and I have been struck at the steely determination of Mr Conway always to do his very best with anything and to ensure that every angle was covered for the best effect both live, on radio and television and on disc. From his supposed musically humble beginnings he blossomed into a highly skilled musical giant. Norman Newell once remarked in 1960 that Russ was someone who in the early days could not read or write down music but he has learned how to do it and can now properly create on paper what is in his head. This was all quite obvious when on-stage you could see his skill and control of all that was happening as only a real Star can do.
In the late 1950’s television was growing and the weekly visit to the local variety theatre was continuing to wane. Many of the stars could now be seen for nothing in the comfort of the viewers own home and this made life easier. The stars were paid well for their work but lesser known ones, who were essential to any theatre bill, were now finding it difficult to get regular work. So it was that the pop music, skiffle and jazz one nighters that were now getting more popular also had a comedian/compere and some of the old variety acts to fill the bill. Some unknown comedians went onto greater things from such humble starts. Des O’Connor and Larry Grayson were just two examples.
The same applied to singers who had once only been a featured singer with a big band. Many of the big dance bands and concert bands would feature two or three regular singers, always a girl and boy with sometimes another boy as well. The singers would sing a couple of songs and then sit down only to return for another go later on. As time went on the more popular of these singers were offered recording contracts in their own right and would then record with session musicians and perform with theatre orchestras or the backing band which ever was appropriate. So it was that the individual performers were growing and the big bands disappearing. Record sales started to increase and the fans wanted to see their favourite in the flesh and despite a tv appearance reaching millions at one go, a tour of the country could still reach a lot of people and an artiste could plug a new record to many over a few weeks. There was nothing better than a live appearance in those days and it still applies.
You can read elsewhere how Russ came to make his first record and how this jobbing composer, accompanist and pub pianist arrived at the No 2 studio at EMI’s Abbey Road complex on Wednesday 13th March 1957 at 2pm to make his first recording. Now he was a performer with a record that had to be sold. The tune, Roll The Carpet Up, had been requested by the public as it was the theme tune for a television show in the north of England, there was an audience ready and waiting to buy but would they all rush out to get a copy. It had to be placed before them. This is where Russ came in in a different guise as that performer. He had become a recording artiste and a variety artiste at the same time and needed bookings to get him seen by the public at large.
As an accompanist Russ had worked in theatres sometimes for one night or a week or just part of a day all depending upon the job in hand. He learned the ways of the theatre and the rules and regulations that enabled the smooth running of such places. This all gave a good start in 1957 to his new situation but he needed an agent. First came Wally Peterson of the Carl Lewis agency who signed Russ for a variety tour that included the famous Metropolitan Theatre in London’s Edgware Road where many an entertainer had performed.
Russ was given a chance there by Dorothy Squires who said his piano playing should be heard by more people and gave him a spot during her act while she went to change. He used to sing I’m shy Mary Ellen I’m Shy with a broad West Country accent. After elocution lessons he had a more middle ground delivery. Next was Cyril Berlin of Fosters agency and later, Alan Crooks of the Noel Gay agency.
Russ’s first television appearance was on the ATV daily lunchtime show “Lunch Box” with Noele Gordon and the Jerry Allan Trio.
As Russ’s popularity grew so did the bookings as Alan Crooks skills helped Russ to develop his stage act and work towards that big hit record. His records were selling well but not in large enough amounts at one time to gain a chart position.
In 1958, Granada Television invited Russ to feature in a programme of him playing a selection of popular tunes. It was just for 15 minutes and towards the end of the programme, Philip Jones, the producer indicated that they were under running and Russ was to play on. He did and turned to the camera and said to the viewing audience that if they had any particular favourites would they write in. The next day there were mail bags full of requests and they kept coming at about 1000 every week. Russ was offered a regular show and the time was changed to 20 minutes and later became 30 minutes. At Your Request as the show was called ran for a year and put Russ firmly on the map and he included many of his recordings and compositions.
Russ was firmly a Northern audience favourite and this led to him being signed for his first summer season at the Pier Pavilion, St Anne’s On Sea, just down the road from Blackpool. The show was called “Let’s Go Gay” and Russ was paid £23 a week which greatly increased his financial status. Although his records were selling the system meant that royalties were not yet coming in so he only had his tv and accompanying work and other appearance fees like Midday Music Hall coming in.
One of the other artistes in the show, Paul Andrews went on to join Russ in several tours. Paul used to feature an impression of Russ in his act which was always well received.
Later in the year Russ was invited to appear on the Billy Cotton Band Show to plug Gotta Match and play a medley. Bill liked what he did and asked Russ if he would like to come again and Russ said yes and what would turn out to be a ten year association had begun. Russ was now getting to be known nationally.
It should be remembered as you read on that throughout the time Russ was preparing and on the road for all these shows, he was also writing and recording new tunes at Abbey Road and pre-recording radio and television shows for both the BBC and ITV. It must have been difficult to have any social life at all.
Russ’s first live appearance was in “Let’s Go Gay” at the Pier Pavilion, St Anne’s On Sea in Lancashire. It was a summer season and ran from 28th June. It followed on from Russ being on the Northern Television channel Granada every week and he was a big hit.
His appearance on the Billy Cotton Show confirmed his popularity with the rest of the country and pointed everything to 1959.
All that was needed was a big hit record.
The Perry Como Music Hall was a big BBC show and one week for contractual reasons it had to be cut by 10 minutes and Russ was asked to go to Pebble Mill and play an interlude. One of the tunes he played to those who thought it was still The Como programme, was Side Saddle and everything erupted from there.
By the end of the year, Russ had forward bookings with Billy Cotton and had played a little tune called Side Saddle on the show and on other radio and television programmes as well.
He had a contract to appear in a touring show with Rock and Roll star Marty Wilde. They had both appeared in Six Five Special and similar teen shows. And there were murmurings about this piano player who suddenly seemed to be all over the place but why?
After all there were many pianists around of all ages and sexes like Joe “Mr Piano” Henderson, Kay Cavendish, Billy Mayerl, Carroll Gibbons, Winifred Atwell, Ken Morris and Ivy Esta. What was it about this young man who seemed to lack technical skill but sounded O.K. that stood him out from the rest. Well you know and so do I.
The tour in 1959 with Marty Wilde enabled Russ to build up a rapport with his audience even if some only wanted Marty and threw their ice cream tubs at Russ. By the end of the week they were screaming for him as his recording of that nice little tune called Side Saddle was NUMBER ONE!!!
Feb 22 Worksop
March 1 Pontefract
2 Week Royalty Chester
22 Majestic Chaddesden, Derby
23 Royal Hall Harrogate
24 City Hall Sheffield
25 Windsor, Doncaster
26 Shaftesbury, Leeds
27 Pioneer, Dewsbury
28 St.Georges Hall, Bradford
29 Cecil, Hull
Russ had already signed contracts for a Summer Season at Llandudno and also for several one nighters and made it quite clear that these bookings were going to be fulfilled as the promoters had shown faith in him. So as the year progressed and hit record followed another, plus L.P.’s and E.P.’s selling and sheet music in unprecedented amounts flying off the shelves this previously unknown pianist was now the undoubtable Russ Conway – STAR.
May 4 Week Liverpool Empire
11 Metropolitan Edgware Road, London with Ossie Noble, (see review)
Jun Summer Season at Llandudno
1959 continued and more and more dates were added to the growing itinerary that would lead to a starring role at the London Palladium in 1960, “Stars In Your Eyes”
Most bookings were made well in advance hence the fragmentation of these early lists. Another tour was arranged for after the Summer Season one date of which was for a charity show for his Aunt Lilian Stanford at the Colston Hall Bristol in aid of the Friends of Winsley Chest Hospital.
Aug 16 Wellington Pier Great Yarmouth
Sep 4 Charity Show at the Colston Hall, Bristol.
Oct 4 Savoy Exeter with the Kaye Sisters, Eddie Falcon,
The Peter Crawford Trio plus Johnny Laycock and Bee.
Oct 12 Week Bradford Alhambra
Oct 19 Week Boston New Theatre
Nov 2 week Glasgow Empire with Terry Scott, Eddie Falcon,
Nov 9 Week Birmingham Hippodrome
Nov 16 Week Gloucester Regal
Nov 29 De Montfort Hall Leicester with Paul Andrews, Johnnie Wiltshire and the Trebletones, Five Dallas Boys, Lorne Leslie,(wife of David Dickinson)
Dec 2 Odeon Southend on sea with Cy Grant, Eddie Falcon, Syd Cheshire and Johnnie Wiltshire.
The supporting acts varied a lot depending upon the concert promoter. Russ played the Windows of Paris, sang All The Way, played an old time medley, Forgotten Dreams and a medley of his hits to date.
The planned yearlong break was soon being interfered with, so to speak as the start of 1968 brought the news that Russ would be back on tour later in the year with The Seekers plus the issue of a brand new single record called Il Buffu coupled with The Pink Piano. He would play the first half and they played the second and they covered the country.
As Russ recovered his strength and determination he started to appear on television again with the likes of Cilla and Jimmy Tarbuck where they reproduced the song and dance routine they did at the Palladium together. He also appeared with Norman Vaughn, Ken Dodd and Moira Anderson.
The Seekers and Russ Conway dates
May 17 Dome Brighton
May 18 Guildhall Portsmouth
May 19 Odeon Hammersmith
May 24 Odeon Birmingham
May 25 Gaumont Worcester
May 26 De Montfort hall Leicester
June 1 ABC Exeter
June 3 Winter Gardens Bournemouth
June 7 Gaumont Hanley
June 8 Odeon Manchester
June 9 Empire Liverpool
Russ played a different act in this show to that of previous shows. He really was coming back to work with a bang. He sang What a wonderful world and two of the songs of Rambling Sid Rumpo which were very well received. Then a tune from the Danish film “17” called Reflections which encouraged me to get the soundtrack LP so I could hear the original. Russ played it identically. He played Born Free and Side Saddle and Up Up and Away.
Then on March 25th 1969 Billy Cotton collapsed and died which knocked back plans they had to get together again. Russ was persuaded to guest on the Rolf Harris Show on March 29th ten years to the day when Side Saddle was at No 1 in the Hit Parade as it was still then called.
A season of concerts at Paignton was planned but Russ had a nervous breakdown at the resort and had to rest for several months
In 1970 Russ was signed to Les Reed’s Chapter One label. They had been friends since the Marty Wilde tour in 1958/59 when Les played piano with the John Barry Seven. The first single was an up tempo version of Chopin’s Polonaise in A Major and Russ was seen and heard playing it everywhere. He had a 13 week Sunday afternoon Radio 2 series called The Russ Hour and he played it there regularly. He appeared on The Golden Shot and played it there. He even appeared with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the Birmingham Town Hall and he played it there and received a standing ovation. It was shown on television in a programme called “All kinds of Music” The single was the first Decca Stereo single as Chapter One was part of the Decca Group.
Russ had a short Sunday night season at the Britannia Pier Great Yarmouth which led to a summer season there the next year. Later he would have a season at the Palladium from 30 Nov with Peter Noone. Russ played Bells Away, Fool on the Hill, Lara’s Theme, and Love Is All.
There was also a season with Tommy Cooper & Anita Harris for the summer of 1971 from 26th April and after a brand new LP and other singles with Chapter One Russ signed with Pye Records owned by Louis Benjamin who owned the Palladium and booked Russ for the 1971 summer show. Russ played, Love Story, Aquarius, Exodus, More and an Astaire Rogers Medley.
Above: London Palladium 1971
First Half Finale
All the Chapter One recordings are on a CD called Forever and details can be found on the Chapter One website. Russ made several single and LP recordings for Pye and all of them are on a CD called A Collection of Russ Conway on the Sanctuary label with a greenish cover.
Unfortunately Russ’s health was never good from this time and gaps appeared in his life as an entertainer.
In 1972 Russ was at the Britannia Pier Theatre this time for a summer season with June Bronhill. They opened on 9th June and ran till the end of September.
It was not until 1974 that Russ reappeared on the scene following a bout of pneumonia. Dorothy Squires was booked for a two week season at the London Palladium and wanted Russ as her guest star. This was the first time that Dorothy had been booked and paid as previously she had booked the theatre herself and sold the tickets and sold out.
Jul 1st Two weeks at the London Palladium,
Guest Star on the Dorothy Squires Show.
Sep 15 White Rock Theatre Hastings
Sep 29 Theatre Royal Norwich
Towards the end of 1974 Russ had announced that a large tour of the UK would take place in the Spring. First he would be touring in South Africa for three weeks. This was Russ’s third visit there. However it proved to be very successful and was extended to three months so postponing any touring plans in the UK until later in the year.
June 29 North Pier Blackpool
July 27 North Pier Blackpool
Aug 3 North Pier Blackpool
Aug 24 Pier Pavilion Llandudno
Sep 7 White Rock Pavilion Hastings
Sep 17 Chatham Central Hall
Sep 23 Corn Exchange Ipswich
Oct 1 Woking Centre Hall in aid of the YMCA
Oct 23 Winter Gardens Margate
Nov 9 Winter Gardens Bournemouth
Nov 22 Cliffs Pavilion Southend
June 20, Aug 15, Pier Pavilion Llandudno.
In November Russ recorded Love Is a Many Splendored Thing with the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. Russ had performed this piece at the Reunion of the Burma Star Association and was determined to record it. He contacted Vic Lanza at EMI who set up the session. It was at this time that Russ and I first met face to face when he took part in a two hour interview during my programme at the Loughborough Hospital Broadcasting Service. We spoke about his career, the new single and the LP The Very Best of Russ Conway. A selection of his many recordings was also played during the programme.
Dec 12 Municipal Hall Colne Lancs.
June 2, 3, 4 Congress Theatre Gwent Square Cwmbran.
June 5, Jul 3, Jul 24, Aug 21 Pier Pavilion Llandudno
May 26 Arcadia Theatre Llandudno and then every Monday and Tuesday and every Wednesday and Thursday at the Palace Theatre Morecambe and at Blackpool until end of September.
Oct 17 Lewisham Concert Hall
June 22-Jul 18 Holiday Spectacular at the Pavilion Theatre Sandown
on the Isle of Wight.
During this period Russ was experimenting with recordings and writing many compositions and consigning them to a box for later use. We all know what happens in that situation as they never again see the light of day.
What happened to them all I know not………………………………….
6th May to end of September at The Royal Hippodrome Theatre Eastbourne. Russ with Billy Dainty and full company in Showtime ‘83 celebrating 100 years of this magnificent theatre. Two complete programmes changing on Thursday of each week.
29th April Central Hall Chatham
Nov Festival of Remembrance at the De Montfort Hall Leicester.
Apr 8 Winter Gardens Bournemouth
Apr 15 New Theatre Cardiff
Apr 22 Cliffs Pavilion Southend
Apr 28 Gordon Craig Theatre Stevenage
Apr 29 Pavilion Theatre Worthing
May 6 Southport Theatre, Southport
All the above with Iris Williams
Sep 9 Pavilion Theatre Weymouth
Sep 16 Arcadia Theatre Llandudno
Russ introduced a new composition called A Long Time Ago along with
The Bells of Time and both would feature on stage and on records in the coming years.
Jun 9 Arcadia Theatre Llandudno
Jun 13 De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill On Sea
Aug 17 De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill On Sea
Aug 25 Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Aug 29 Kings Theatre Southsea
Sep 8 Arcadia Theatre Llandudno
May 18 Johnson Hall Yeovil
Jun 1 Arcadia Theatre Llandudno
Jun 12 Colston Hall Bristol
Jun 22 Villa Marina Isle Of Man
Aug 3 Pier Pavilion Bournemouth
Aug 31 Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Sep 7 Embassy Centre Skegness
Sep 11 Spa Pavilion Felixstowe
Sep 14 Arcadia Theatre Llandudno
You can see that many of the same theatres turn up each year but new ones are starting to arrive particularly the Warner Holiday Centres and Civic Theatres. Many of these did not exist when Russ first appeared on stage.
Apr Key Theatre Peterborough
May 8 Fairfield Hall Croydon
May 14 Wilde Theatre Bracknell
May 17 and every Sunday night until the end of September.
At the Royal Hippodrome Theatre Eastbourne.
Nov 15 Assembly Rooms Tonbridge Wells
Nov 16 Lewisham Theatre
Nov 19 Shaw Theatre
Dec 15 Fortune Theatre London
Jun 12/25, Jul 10/2, Aug 7/21, Sep 4/18, Oct 2 Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Jun 22/29, Jul 6/13/27, Aug 3/10/17/24/31, Sep 7/14, Pavilion Worthing.
Jul 17/31, Sep 11, Winter Gardens Margate.
At this time it was Russ Conway and Friends including Ronnie Hilton, Dennis Lotis, Joan Regan, Rosemary Squires, Marion Finch, Frank Lee, Dottie Wayne, Gary Lovini, Sheila Southern and Susan Maugham. Included in Russ’s act were Life Is Good, A Long Time Ago, China Tea, The 13 minute Medley, Royal Event, Side Saddle, a medley of Rick Astley’s hits, The Sunshine Medley and The Warsaw Concerto.
Jul 16, Aug 6, Aug 27, Sep 17, Oct 1: Royal Hippodrome Eastbourne.
Sep 3 Spa Pavilion Felixstowe
Sep 12 Thursford Collection Fakenham
Sep 21 Pavilion Theatre Weymouth
Oct 2nd week Princess Theatre Torquay
Nov 10 Fairfield Hall Croydon
Sometime shows were fixed and there was no time to advise the general public only the local press. This was a frequent occurrence.
Russ was receiving Cancer treatment at this time and the Russ Conway Cancer Fund was formed and would hold an annual concert each year on Russ’s birthday.
Jun 13 The Dome Brighton in aid of The Dome Mission
Aug 18 Pavilion Westcliff on Sea
Aug 28 four nights The Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Sep 2 Russ 65th birthday show in aid of the Cancer Fund
December 15th 1987
Sep 4 Thursford Collection Fakenham
Sep 29 Civic Centre Hounslow
May 26/Jun 23/Jul 28/Sep 15 Congress Theatre Eastbourne.
Jul 21 Spa Pavilion Royal Leamington Spa
Aug 3 Embassy Centre Skegness
Aug 4 Spa Pavilion Felixstowe
Sep 1 Cancer Fund Show at Bristol Hippodrome
Oct 20 Derngate Theatre Northampton
May 23 Centre Space Hounslow
Jun 14 Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Jun 28 Pavilion Theatre Bournemouth
Jul 19 Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Aug 16 Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Aug 23 Cancer Fund Show at Bristol Hippodrome
Sep 23 Pavilion Theatre Worthing
Apr 14 Fairfield Hall Croydon
Apr 17 Civic Hall Elstree
May 14 Pavilion Theatre, The Pier, Cromer
June 27 Congress Theatre Eastbourne
June 15 White Rock Theatre Hastings
Aug 8 Opera House Buxton
Aug 15 Princess Theatre Hunstanton
Aug 22 Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Sep 12 Secombe Theatre Sutton
Sep 19 Cancer Fund Show at Colston Hall Bristol
Oct 30 Lyceum Theatre Crewe
Oct 31 The Northwick Theatre Worcester.
Apr 13 Lyric Hall Theatre Dinnington Near Sheffield
Apr 14 Empire Theatre Consett, County Durham
Jul 20 De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill on Sea
Sep 21 Swan Theatre High Wycombe
Sep 24 Winter Gardens Margate
Oct 14/15 City Varieties Leeds
Oct 30 Craig Theatre Stevenage
Feb 17 Civic Theatre Mansfield
Mar 13 Swan Theatre High Wycombe
Mar 21 Westcliff Pavilion Southend on Sea
Mar 25 Civic Centre Hounslow
Apr 16 Babbacombe Theatre Babbacombe
May 11 Embassy Complex Skegness
Jun 20 Marlowe Theatre Canterbury
July 21 Pavilion Theatre Felixstowe
Sep 10 Cancer Fund Show
Nov 18 Willyots Centre Potters Bar
Nov 19 The Pavilion Royal Leamington Spa
Some of the above appearances had to be cancelled when Russ had his thumb trapped in the door of his car and needed special surgery.
Jan 27 Civic Centre Hounslow
Feb 27 Ashcroft Theatre Croydon Hiss and Boo Show
May 9 Embassy Centre Skegness
Jun 12/13/14 Kings Theatre Edinburgh
Jun 21 Playhouse Epsom
Aug 28 The Playhouse Weston Super Mare Hiss and Boo Show
Feb 8 Bembridge Village Isle of Wight
Mar 1 Gunton Hall Village Lowestoft
Sep 27 Littlecote House Hotel Hungerford
Oct 16 Corton Village Corton Lowestoft
Feb 18 Norton Grange Isle of Wight
Mar 28 Holme Lacey Hotel Hereford
Apr 8 Lakeside Village Hayling Island
May 6,7,8,9 Birmingham Hippodrome Guest Star in Danny La Rue Show
May 23 Sinah Warren Hayling Island
Feb 24 Norton Grange Isle of Wight
Apr 3 Lakeside Hayling Island
May 22 Sinah Warren Hayling Island
Jun 27 Civic Hall Bedworth with Nicholas Martin
Jul 25, Aug 1, Aug 8, Aug 15, Aug 22, Aug 29. Westcliff Theatre Clacton
Oct 16 or 6 Lakeside Hayling Island
Sep 28 Truro, Hall For Cornwall
Sep 29 Croyde Bay Holiday Centre
Oct 21 Corton Village Lowestoft
Feb 5 Sinah Warren Hayling Island
Mar 14 British Music Hall Society “An Audience with…..”
Apr 14/15 City Varieties Leeds
Apr 16 Charity Show The Westminster Theatre London
Jun 11 Pavilion Worthing Hiss and Boo Show
Jun 25 Civic Hall Bedworth with Nicholas Martin
Jul 27 De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill on Sea Hiss and Boo Show
Sep 1 Congress Theatre Eastbourne
RUSS CONWAY’S 75th BIRTHDAY SHOW with a host of stars.
This was Russ’s last public appearance as the cancer returned and he died on 16 November 2000 at the age of 75.
All the information in this feature was correct at the time of publishing.
If you have any genuine revisions or alterations please send them with authentication to the email link below so that the feature can be revised and corrected accordingly.
© Willam Murden 2015