Les Reed (songwriter)

Les Reed
Birth name Leslie David Reed
Born (1935-07-24) 24 July 1935
Woking, Surrey, England
Genres Popular music, classical
Occupation(s) Songwriter, arranger, musician, orchestra leader
Years active 1950s–present

Les Reed OBE (born Leslie David Reed, 24 July 1935, in Woking, Surrey, England) is an English songwriter, arranger, musician and light orchestra leader.[1] His major songwriter partners were Gordon Mills, Barry Mason and Geoff Stephens, although he penned songs with many others such as Roger Greenaway, Roger Cook, and Johnny Worth.

Allmusic noted that "Reed's sixty or more major hits have earned numerous gold discs, Ivor Novello awards and, in 1982, the British Academy Gold Badge of Merit. In the mid-1960s, it was unusual for a British singles chart not to list a Les Reed song".[1]


Reed was an accomplished musician by the age of fourteen, playing the piano, accordion and vibraphone. He studied at the London College of Music before joining the Willis Reed Group, with whom he toured for four years. Having been called up for National Service, he played piano and clarinet in the Royal East Kent Military Band.[1] Following National Service he turned professional, and became resident pianist at the Lido Nightclub in the West End of London.

In 1959, Reed joined The John Barry Seven as pianist. He appeared with them on BBC's Drumbeat, played on many of their hits including "James Bond Theme", "Hit And Miss" and "Walk, Don't Run".[1] He also played piano on chart topping hits for Adam Faith ("Poor Me" and "What Do You Want?"); Eden Kane's ("Forget Me Not"), and Lance Fortune's ("Be Mine").

In the mid-1960s, he began a successful songwriting partnership with Geoff Stephens which yielded such hits as "Tell Me When", a hit for The Applejacks; "Here It Comes Again" for The Fortunes; "Leave A Little Love" for Lulu; and "There's a Kind of Hush", a 1967 success for Herman's Hermits.[1] During 1964, Reed penned "It's Not Unusual" with ex-Viscounts member and Tom Jones' manager Gordon Mills, which gave Jones a UK number one.[2] Reed also arranged and played piano on the song.[1]

Around this time Reed struck up another songwriting partnership with Barry Mason. They wrote a song for Kathy Kirby, "I'll Try Not To Cry", as part of A Song for Europe 1965, the BBC's contest to choose the United Kingdom entry for that year's Eurovision Song Contest in Naples.[1] The song was beaten by "I Belong".[3] They had a 1967 hit in "Everybody Knows" by The Dave Clark Five - who also recorded a Reed/Mason follow-up - and another success in 1968 with "Delilah", again a Top Ten hit for Tom Jones. "Delilah" was originally written for P. J. Proby, and later covered by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in 1975. Reed and Mason also wrote "The Last Waltz", which became a million selling UK number one for Engelbert Humperdinck in September 1967.[1][4] Mason and Reed wrote "Who's Doctor Who", a novelty song recorded by Doctor Who star Frazer Hines in 1967, but it failed to chart. In 1968, the duo scored another UK number 1 hit with Des O'Connor's recording of "I Pretend".[5] That same year, "I've Got My Eyes on You", written by Reed and Jackie Rae, was recorded by Petula Clark, Ray Conniff, P. J. Proby and The Vogues.[1] Following Petula Clark's original version, Connie Francis recorded "Kiss Me Goodbye" on her Connie Francis Sings the Songs of Les Reed album, which featured Reed as producer and pianist; the album was released in November 1969.[6]

In 1970, Reed's orchestra recorded "Man of Action" which was used as the theme tune for Radio North Sea International until 1974. Reed is also responsible for co-composing "Marching on Together" (aka "Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!"), the anthem of Leeds United F.C.[1] In 1971, "When There's No You" by Reed and Jackie Rae was recorded by Englebert Humperdinck and became Humperdinck's second of four number ones on the US Easy Listening chart, reaching number one in April 1971.[7]

At the 1973 Tokyo Music Festival, Reed and Stephens won the Silver Star for "Sandy Sandy", whilst in 1977 Reed and Tony Macaulay triumphed at the International Song Contest in Majorca with "You and I". Reed and Roger Greenaway were awarded the Grand Prix Award in Seoul for "Everytime You Go". Reed's have been recorded by Elvis Presley ("Girl of Mine" and "This is Our Dance"), Shirley Bassey ("Does Anybody Miss Me") and Bing Crosby ("That's What Life is All About"). Reed's film score composition credits include those for The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968), The Bushbaby (1969), One More Time (1970), George and Mildred (1980), Creepshow 2 (1987) and Parting Shots (1999).[1]


In addition, Reed has composed music for stage musical productions including The Magic Show (1974), American Heroes and And Then I Wrote. In 1994, Reed produced an album for Max Bygraves to raise money for the Lest We Forget Association. He was honoured as a Freeman of the City of London for his contributions to the music industry. Following this in 1998, Reed was awarded an Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Reed co-composed, with Roger Cook, the score for the 2004 musical Beautiful and Damned, based on the lives of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.[1]

Other information

In April 1998, a philosophical paper [published by Hazel Speed] featured reference to Les Reed's theme for the film The Lady Vanishes (which starred Angela Lansbury). Reed wrote a letter of introduction within the philosophical text, and the paper was subsequently lodged with the Cultural Department of the European Commission. In 2006, Reed wrote two theme songs for a short animation pilot entitled 'B-Mail'. He was the project's composer in residence.


Reed also conducted his own band The Les Reed Orchestra, whose recordings included:

See also

Category:Songs written by Les Reed (songwriter)


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Les Reed (24 July 1935). "Les Reed – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  2. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 289. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. "Eurovision Song Contest 1965 | Year page | Eurovision Song Contest – Malmö 2013". Eurovision.tv. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  4. Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  5. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 403. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. "Sings the Songs of Les Reed – Connie Francis : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  7. Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 120.
  8. "Les Reed – Minuet Mash (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  9. "Les Reed Orchestra, The* – Hot Line (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  10. "Les Reed Orchestra, The* – Imogene (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  11. "Les Reed – Don't Linger With Your Finger on the Trigger / Big Drum (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  12. "Les Reed Orchestra, The* – Man of Action / Madrid (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  13. "Les Reed Orchestra, The* – Man of Action / Lest We Forget (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  14. "Les Reed Orchestra, The* – Also Sprach Zarathustra / Second Movement of the Fifth Symphony (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  15. "Les Reed Orchestra, The* – Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.

External links

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