Les Reed

Composer - Original Songs:

Les Reed OBE, FCL (London)

Mini Biography

Les Reed is the composer behind such pop standards as “It’s Not Unusual”; “Delilah”; “The Last Waltz”; “There’s a Kind of Hush”; “Les Bicyclettes de Belsize”; “I’m Coming Home”; “Tell Me When”; “Daughter of Darkness”; “Here It Comes Again”; “I Pretend”; “Love is All” and “Please Don’t Go”, amongst many others, for some of the greatest recording artists of the last fifty years, including The Carpenters; Tom Jones; Engelbert; Elvis Presley; Marvin Gaye; Otis Redding; Jackie Wilson; P J Proby; The Four Tops; The Stan Kenton Orchestra; The Glenn Miller Orchestra (post-war) and The Four Freshmen. Johnny Mathis; Gladys Knight; Stevie Wonder; Diana Ross and The Supremes and Pavarotti have also recorded Les Reed songs. Connie Francis dedicated a whole album to Les’ work. In 1972, one of the songs that Les wrote for Elvis Presley, namely “Sylvia”, reached the coveted Number One slot in Brazil, and is considered to this day to be one of Elvis’ finest recordings.

On virtually every record that Les has written or produced, he was responsible for the musical arrangements, on songs that he didn’t write, i.e.; “The Green, Green Grass of Home” and all of the early Tom Jones hits, (outside of his own songs), as well as all of the Engelbert Humperdinck early non-Les Reed hits. He also arranged “Boys Cry” (Eden Kane); “You’ve Got Your Troubles” (The Fortunes); “Pamela Pamela” (Wayne Fontana) and all of the Dave Clark 5 hits, amongst others too numerous to list. Les has always been very lucky to have worked with great lyricists and, outside of his long partnerships with Barry Mason and Geoff Stephens, he has written songs with the legendary Sammy Cahn and wrote an International hit with Bing Crosby, namely “That’s What Life is all About”. Fondly known as “The Eighth Wonder of the Pop World” due to a Guinness Book of Hit Singles Poll, Les is now recognised as being the eighth most successful Songwriter of the 1960’s, along with Lennon and McCartney; Goffin and King and Holland, Dozier, Holland, who command the first seven positions respectively.

Les’ film scoring work is comprehensive: “Girl on a Motorcycle”; “Creepshow 2”; Theme from “The Lady Vanishes”; “Les Bicyclettes de Belsize”; “Crossplot”; “Parting Shots”, “George and Mildred” and “One More Time” with Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Jerry Lewis. He worked with composer John Barry for many years and was pianist on many of John’s recordings, including all of the Adam Faith hits and films such as “Beat Girl”; “Never Let Go” and the first James Bond film, “Dr. No”. His songs have been included in over three hundred films in the last four decades, including “Edward Scissorhands”; “Little Voice”; “Mars Attacks” and “Play Misty for Me”.

His conducting skills have taken him all over the world to work with, amongst others, David Bowie; Johnnie Mathis; Roy Orbison; Brook Benton and Sammy Davis Jr. The Liverpool Philharmonic; Halle; London Philharmonic; Berlin State Orchestra and The Dutch Metropole Orchestra have all performed his classical works.

Les is no stranger to the stage musical. He worked with Sir Terence Rattigan on a musical that, sadly, never made the London stage, due to the passing of Sir Terence. “The Magic Touch” was staged at The Cambridge Theatre, London. “Tin Pan Alley” had a very successful run at The Mill, Sonning. Another musical, based on the life of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson was premiered at The Buxton Opera House, to great acclaim. This musical (written with Edward Seago) is now called “That Woman” and is currently being considered for the London stage by two prominent Stage Producers.

Les was delighted to be asked by Lyricist, Roger Cook, to collaborate on the music and lyrics for “Beautiful and Damned”. Roger had, for many years, wanted to write a musical about Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and conveyed his ideas to Les. In 1992, they started to work on the show, and a successful production was launched at The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, in 2004. Subsequently, “Beautiful and Damned” took to the London stage in 2005 at The Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, to great audience acclaim, and achieved a successful 16 week run. There are plans to produce the show next year in Alabama, Tennessee. Stage Door Records recently released the Composer’s Concept Album of this Show.

Aside from over 110 Gold and Platinum discs and Grammy Awards, Les has received numerous music accolades, including 11 very prestigious Ivor Novello Awards, and was also very proud to have been awarded The Freedom of the City of London and an OBE in recognition for Services to British Music.

Les Reed is approaching his 60th year in the recording industry. To celebrate his contribution to the recording industry, The Heritage Foundation recently hosted a star-studded tribute luncheon to Les at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. Recent achievements have included a BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) Award for over 4 Million performances of “It’s Not Unusual” in the USA alone. This is the equivalent of many years continuous airplay! In the meantime, Les continues writing for various projects and has two stage musicals for consideration in the USA and Canada.

In the last few years, Les Reed has concentrated on his first love of classical music and has completed “The Olympus Suite”; “The Niagara Suite”, “The Jubilation Suite” and “The Erin Symphony”.

Les Reed OBE was born on 24th July, 1935, and lives in West Sussex. He has a daughter, Donna, and two Grandsons, Alexander and Dominic.

Last Updated (Thursday, 08 January 2015 15:47)