Stanley Black Biography

14 June 1913, London, England, d. 26 November 2002, London, England. This highly talented pianist, arranger, composer and conductor was one of the leading figures in UK light and popular music. At the age of seven, Black began learning the piano and later studied at the Matthay School of Music. His first composition, when he was aged 12, was broadcast by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. In 1929, he won an arranging contest sponsored by the then jazz weekly, Melody Maker, and became known as a promising jazz pianist, recording with visiting Americans Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong and Benny Carter, plus the British bands of Lew Stone and Harry Roy. In 1938, he went to South America with Roy’s orchestra, and became fascinated with Latin-American music, a subject on which he became an expert. Black started recording for Decca Records in 1944, and in the same year became conductor of the BBC Dance Orchestra, a position that lasted until 1952. Black took part in many vintage radio shows including Hi Gang and Much Binding In The Marsh. He also composed signature tunes for several radio programmes, including the legendary Goon Show, and broadcast with ensembles ranging from full symphony orchestras and the BBC Dance Orchestra to a quartet or sextet in his own programmes, such as Black Magic and The Musical World Of Stanley Black. In 1977, he became the first non-American to conduct the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Black worked on over a hundred films either as score composer or musical director, and in many cases as both. His credits include It Always Rains On Sunday (1948), The Long And The Short And The Tall (1961), the Cliff Richard musicals The Young Ones and Summer Holiday, and all of the late Mario Zampi’s screwball comedies, such as Laughter In Paradise (1951), The Naked Truth (1957) andToo Many Crooks (1958). His albums sold in huge quantities, not only in the UK, but also in the USA, New Zealand and Japan. In 1994, he joined Stéphane Grappelli in a Charity Gala Performance at the Barbican Hall in London. His many honours included an OBE and Life Fellowship of the International Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1995, he was made life president of the Celebrities Guild of Great Britain.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.