Prolific. That’s the best way to describe songwriter, pianist, arranger and producer Tony Hatch. During a career that’s lasted over fifty years, Tony has arranged, composed, conducted and produced over one-thousand tracks. Twenty-five of these tracks feature on Ace Records’ recent compilation Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch. It’s a reminder of one Britain’s most successful songwriters, arrangers and producers. That’s no surprise. Tony was a musical prodigy.

Tony Hatch was born in Southhall, Middlesex on 30th June 1939. From an early age, Tony was fascinated by music. By the age of four, Tony could play the piano. Aged eight, Tony was singing in the school choir. Realising Tony’s potential, his mother decided to enrol him in the London Choir School, in Bexley, Kent. For Tony, this musical appetite whetted his appetite for a career in music.

The choir didn’t just sing in church. They also sung in films, television and on records. Later, Tony became assistant choirmaster. Towards the end of his time at the London Choir School, Tony was writing hymns. All this was a hint of what was to come. When Tony finished school, he’d the opportunity to attend the prestigious Royal Academy Of Music. That wasn’t for Tony. Instead, he went to work for a music publisher.

Aged sixteen, Tony started work at Robert Mellin Music. His job involved demoing songs to potential clients. He’d play the piano and sing the songs to singers and A&R men. After work and at weekend, Tony had his own dance band. His two jobs were the perfect introduction to the music industry for Tony. Before long, Tony was about to make the best move of his nascent carer.

Having demoed one of his songs, Crazy Bells, to Dick Rowe of Decca Records, Dick decided the song was perfect for Gerry Dorsey. Dick also decided that Tony would make a good assistant. So, Dick offered Tony a job at Decca Records. Tony accepted the job and Dick Rowe became his mentor.

When Tony went to work at Decca Records, Dick encouraged him to make instrumental version of popular songs. Back then, instrumentals were big sellers. So, Tony headed into the studio. His debut single was Chick, which featured Side Saddle, on the B-Side. Side Saddle had originally been released by Russ Conway. Released in 1959, Chick was the start of Tony’s recording career. However, that was just one of Tony’s roles.

Amongst Tony’s other duties was producing artists signed to Decca Records. Two of his earliest productions were albums released by the Coldstream Bands. This would prove to be ironic.

Tony was called-up by the armed services to serve National Service. Back then, young men were forced to spend two years in the armed forces. Luckily, National Service had been abolished. However, there was a problem. Tony’s birthday fell on the 30th June, and if he’d been born two days later, he’d not have been eligible for National Service. So, Tony had to spend two years in the army.

Fortunately, with Tony having produced the Coldstream Guards and having proved to be a talented musician, Tony was able to spent the two years in the Coldstream Guards. He spent two years working as the regiment’s arranger. In his spare time, Tony continued to write songs and produce artists for Decca. They’d kept Tony on a retainer during his two years in the Coldstream Guards. During this period, Tony got married and start writing for films.

Tony married Jean Matthews in 1959. He was just twenty. The couple would go on to have two children. Another change in Tony’s life was, he began writing music for films. He’d been approached by Harold Shampan, the Managing Director of Filmmusic, Top Rank’s publishing company. Tony wrote the soundtrack to several films. This included Look For A Star, which was recorded by Garry Mills. It reached number seven in the UK and gave Tony his first hit single. This would be the first of many. However, as the sixties dawned, Tony tried to interest Top Rank in teen pop music. Top Rank weren’t interested. So Tony approached Pye. They offered Tony a part-time job until he left the army. Then when he left the army, the job would become full-time. 

The first single Tony worked on after he left the amy was Emile Ford’s Counting Teardrops. Tony it seemed, had the Midas touch. The single reached number four in the UK. After that, Tony worked alongside Alan Freeman on Petula Clark’s Sailor. It was recorded in November 1960, and reached number one in the UK. This wasn’t the last time Tony would work with Petula Clark. They’d later record the classic track Downtown. It’s one of the twenty-five tracks on Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch.

The tracks on Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch were recorded between 1960 and 1968. There’s contributions from Petula Clark, Gary Mills, Jackie Trent, Jack Jones, Sarah Vaughan, Matt Monro, Connie Francis, Scott Walker, The Searchers and The Tony Hatch Orchestra. They’re an introduction to one of the finest songwriters, arrangers and producers of his generation, Tony Hatch. So choosing the highlights of Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch isn’t going to be easy, but here goes.

Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch features four singles from Petula Clark. This is fitting, given Tony and Petula enjoyed a successful partnership. The earliest single on Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch is a true classic and a song that’s synonymous with Petula Clark, Downtown. Released in 1964, it was written by Tony and reached number two in the UK, and became a worldwide hit. It’s a truly timeless classic. A Sign Of The Times was released in 1966, and reached number forty-nine in the UK. A poppy, stomping arrangement is the perfect foil for Petula’s tender, needy vocal. It’s a track from the 1966 album My Love, which reached number sixty-eight in the US Billboard 200 charts. Later that year, Petula released the album album Colour My Love. Two of the singles released from Colour My Love were  Who Am I and Colour My World. They were written by Tony and Jackie Trent. Tony arranged and produced Colour My Love, which reached number sixteen in the UK and number forty-nine in the US Billboard 200. Sadly, neither single charted, despite their undoubted quality.

The Montanas feature twice on Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch. Many of their songs were penned by Tony and Jackie Trent. That’s the case here. They cowrote You’ve Got To Be Loved, which was released in 1967. Produced by Tony, it gave The Montanas their only US hit, reaching number fifty-eight in the US Billboard 100. A fusion of pop and rock, it was one of The Montanas finest singles. A year later, The Montanas released A Step In The Right Direction. It’s another track penned by Tony and Jackie Trent, that showcases the vastly underrated Montanas.

Chris Montez wasn’t the first person to record Call Me. No. Petula Clark and then Keely Smith covered the track. It wasn’t until Chris Montez covered the track that it became a huge hit. Written by Tony, Herb Albert arranged and produced Call Me. This mellow, soulful version reached number twenty-two and is the definite version of the track.

There’s three tracks from Tony Hatch on Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch.  Two of the tracks featured on Hit The Road To Themeland. Man Alive features The Tony Hatch Sound. Written and produced by Tony, it was the theme tune to a BBC TV show. So was Sportsnight, which features The Tony Hatch Orchestra. It’s remembered fondly by sport’s fans of my generation. Sounds Of The 70s comes courtesy of Tony Hatch & The Satin Brass. This was the title-track to Tony’s 1974 album. A dramatic sometimes dreamy, and always innovative instrumental, it shows another side to Tony Hatch’s music.

Sarah Vaughan is without doubt, one of the greatest jazz singers of her generation. I Know A Place is a track from her 1966 album Pop Artistry. Written by Tony and produced by Luchi De Jesus, it’s an infectiously catchy stomper, that Northern Soul fans will enjoy.

Following the British invasion in 1964, Connie Francis career stalled. So, it’s ironic that in 1965, Connie Francis headed to London. She was on her way to record with Tony Hatch. He wrote and produced two tracks, Roundabout and Love Is Mine. The best of the two tracks in Love Is Mine. It literally explodes into life, blazing horns, cooing harmonies and the rhythm section driving Connie to greater heights, on what’s a hidden gem from Connie Francis back-catalogue.

Jackie Trent was Tony’s songwriting partner, and also, his wife. She was a talented singer who released a string of singles that she and Tony cowrote. This includes 1965s the wistful, accusing Where Are You Now and 7.10 From Suburbia. It was released in 1968 and benefits from strong, dramatic narrative. Pictures unfold before your eyes during this tale of tedious suburban life. Although not the best known track Tony and Jackie cowrote, it’s one of the most intriguing, given its social comment and cinematic quality.

Jack Jones recorded If You Ever Leave Me two years after Jackie Trent released her version. It became the title-track to his 1968 album. On If You Ever Leave Me Jack Jones, Jack delivers a vocal that’s a combination of power, passion and fear, fear that the woman he loves leaves him. Accompanying Jack is big, bold and dramatic arrangement that’s the perfect foil for his vocal.

One of the most beautiful and compelling tracks Scott Walker recorded is Joanna. Written by Tony and Jackie, Peter Knight’s string-drenched arrangement is the perfect accompaniment for Scott. He combines emotion, hope and pain on a track from his debut solo album Scott.  For newcomers to Scott Walker, this is the perfect starting point to his music.

Garry Mills’ Look For A Star was the song that gave Tony his first hit single. Tony wrote the song for the film Circus Of Horrors. His mentor Dick Rowe produced it. It reached number seven in the UK. After this, ten cover versions of this song were released. However, Garry’s tender, heartfelt vocal is the best version.

Originally, Matt Monro was a bus driver. Not for long. Soon, The Man With The Golden Voice was soon rubbing shoulders with musical royalty. He released a series of commercially successful and critically acclaimed albums. I Love The Little Things was written by Tony and was Britain’s entry in the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest. Although it didn’t win, it’s a tantalising taste of what Matt Monro, The Man With The Golden Voice was capable of.

My final choice from Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch is Bobby Rydell’s Forget Him. It was written by Tony and released on Philly’s Cameo Parkway label in 1963. Back then, Bobby Rydell was a teen idol. Released in the UK in May 1963, Forget Him gave Bobby a top ten hit with what’s a slick slice of sixties pop. Belatedly, Forget Him was released in the US in January 1964, and reached number four in the US Billboard 200. This opened the door for Tony Hatch. He went on to work with Frank Sinatra, Pat Boone and some of the biggest names in music.

The tracks I mentioned are just some of the highlights of Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch. I could just as easily have mentioned any one of the twenty-five tracks. That’s testament to Tony Hatch, and sometimes, his songwriting partner, Jackie Trent. Tony was, without doubt, a hugely talented songwriter, arranger and producer. The music he wrote and produced was of the highest quality. That’s why he enjoyed a string of hit singles. This includes writing classic tracks like Downtown for Petula Clark and Joanna for Scott Walker. These two artists are just the tip of the iceberg. Tony wrote, arranged and produced over one-thousand songs.

Whether Tony was working with some of the biggest names in music, or a newcomer, he was determined that to help an artist fill their potential. Time and time again, he does that. There’s numerous examples of this on Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch. Among the artists Tony worked with are Petula Clark, Gary Mills, Jackie Trent, Jack Jones, Sarah Vaughan, Matt Monro, Connie Francis, Scott Walker, The Searchers. He helped launch careers and rejuvenate careers that had stalled. The reason for that was Tony Hatch was the man with Midas touch.

Many of the songs he wrote and produced became timeless classics. Over a career spanning over fifty years, commercial success and critical acclaim were familiar friends for Tony Hatch. He released several albums and a string of singles. Away from his solo career, whether it was Tony Hatch songwriting, arranging, production or running his own publishing company, Tony Hatch was a success. He was one of Britain’s music successful music moguls. Not only was Tony Hatch steeped in music, but he was a shrewd businessman. Where others faltered, Tony thrived. That’s why he enjoyed such a long and successful career. 

Now aged seventy-five, Tony Hatch is one of the grand old men of British music. Last year, 2013, Tony was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. That’s long overdue. Tony Hatch is without the most talented songwriters, arrangers and producers of his generation. To celebrate Tony Hatch’s long and illustrious career, Ace Records have released Colour My World-The Songs Of Tony Hatch, which is a memorable musical reminder of Tony’s six decade career.







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: