Norman Newell OBE (25 January 1919 - 1 December 2004) was an Golden Globe award winning English record producer, mainly active in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as co-writer of many notable songs. As an A&R manager for EMI he worked with musicians such as Shirley Bassey, Claude François, Vera Lynn, Russ Conway, Bette Midler, Judy Garland, Petula Clark, Jake Thackray, Malcolm Roberts, Bobby Crush and Peter and Gordon. Newell was particularly known for his recorded productions of West End musicals.
During his career, won a Grammy, an Emmy and three Ivor Novello Awards for his contribution to the entertainment industry, as well as six British Music Industry Awards.
Life and career:
Newell was born in Plaistow, Essex (now Greater London). His career as a songwriter for a London based music publishing company, commenced straight after World War II.
He was the head of EMI's Columbia label for many of the label's most successful years. He was also a highly sought after lyricist, sometimes writing under the pen-name, David West, responsible for co-writing songs that included "My Thanks To You" (music by Noel Gay) and "Portrait of My Love" (music by Cyril Ornadel), a hit for Matt Monro. In addition, he provided the English lyrics for "More", (the theme from the film Mondo Cane). Newell also wrote the English lyrics of Shirley Bassey's 1961 number one hit "Reach for the Stars", (composed by Nini Oliviero and Riz Ortolani); "This Is My Life" ("La vita", written by Antonio Amurri and Bruno Canfora); "The Importance of Your Love" ("Important C'est La Rose", by Gilbert Bécaud); "Monday Morning Again" ("Le lundi au soleil", by Claude François) and "Never, Never, Never" ("Grande, Grande Grande"). He also wrote with the composer, Philip Green, the United Kingdom's 1962 Eurovision Song Contest entry, "Say Wonderful Things", recorded by Ronnie Carroll. The song was later recorded in the United States by Patti Page.
He also wrote the English lyrics to the German song "Sailor", a number one UK hit for Petula Clark and a Top Ten hit for Anne Shelton in 1961. In 1964, he produced Peter and Gordon's number one UK hit "A World Without Love". In 1965, the song "Forget Domani" from the film The Yellow Rolls-Royce, with lyrics by Newell to music by Riz Ortolani won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
Newell also wrote English-language lyrics to Vicky Leandros's 1972 Eurovision Song Contest winning entry, "Après Toi" ("Come What May"). "Come What May" reached No.2 on the UK and Republic of Ireland singles charts in 1972.
In his later years he penned lyrics to Pietro Mascagni's "Intermezzo" from Cavelleria Rusticana. The song, entitled "Pray For Love", was recorded by Vince Hill.
His numerous contacts with those in authority in the publishing industry in the United Kingdom, assisted EMI in securing the rights for British recordings of cast albums of many American shows opening in London. Newell also wrote the lyrics for the West End musical, Mister Venus (music by Russ Conway), but the show was not a success.
Newell continued working as a producer into the 1980s, most notably on Shirley Bassey's 1984 hit album with the London Symphony Orchestra, I Am What I Am. He also produced several cast recordings of West End musicals for First Night Records - Seven Brides For Seven Brothers - Original London Cast (1986),Annie Get Your Gun - 1986 London Cast (starring Suzi Quatro and Eric Flynn),Kiss Me, Kate - 1987 Royal Shakespeare Company Cast (starring Paul Jones, Nichola McAuliffe and Fiona Hendley), and South Pacific - 1988 London Cast (starring Gemma Craven and Emile Belcourt).
In 1999, Newell's song, "Portrait of My Love", originally recorded by Matt Monro in 1960, was honoured at the BMI Awards in London for having two million radio plays.
His songs have been covered by Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin.
Retirement and National honours:
Newell retired in 2001 to his home in West Sussex, but after a series of debilitating strokes was later moved to a local nursing home. He was awarded an OBE in 2004, just before his death.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license