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Norman Newell

(1919—2004) record producer and songwriter


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b. 25 January 1919, Plaistow, Essex, England, d. 1 December 2004, Sussex, England. As a young man, Newell worked in a music shop in London, England, and discovered an aptitude for writing song lyrics. He was hired by EMI Records in 1949 as head of Artists and Repertory for the Columbia Records label. He also talked his way into a job as staff producer: ‘I knew nothing about recording and nobody at the time taught me anything’. His first record was with an adolescent Petula Clark and he secured his first success with ‘The Jimmy Brown Song’ (‘Les Trois Cloches’) for Champagnons De La Chanson in 1950. He had success with Steve Conway, including ‘My Thanks To You’ and ‘My Foolish Heart’. Conway died in 1952 and by way of tribute, Newell used his surname to rename the pianist, Trevor Stanford, as Russ Conway. He encouraged Joyce Grenfell and Norman Wisdom to combine their talents on the hilarious ‘Narcissus’ (1952), and he placed the gospel song, ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’, with a 14-year old boy, Laurie London, which became an international hit in 1957. Newell also recorded Alma Cogan, writing ‘Cowboy Jimmy Joe’ and ‘With You In Mind’ for her, but he is primarily associated with Shirley Bassey. ‘She is so wonderful and I am so dedicated to her, ’ said Newell, ‘When she sings, you feel that she is so much in love or that she has lost someone, and her body language becomes a part of the songs.’

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From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music.


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