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Noel Gay

From Academic Kids

Noel Gay born Reginald Armitage (July 15, 1898 - March 3, 1954) was one of the most successful British composers of popular music of the 1930s and 1940s.

He was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England and educated at Wakefield Cathedral School, London's Royal College of Music, and Christ's Church College, Cambridge. He then became music director and organist at St. Anne's Church in London's Soho district.

Whilst at Cambridge, Armitage's interest in musical comedy grew, and he began writing popular songs, using the stage name Noel Gay in order to avoid embarrassing the church authorities. After contributing to reviews he was commissioned to write the score for the Charlot Show of 1926. His next show was Clowns In Clover, which starred Cicely Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert.

Gay's career quickly blossomed, due to his talent for writing catchy, popular melodies in styles ranging from Music Hall to operetta. He is the only composer besides Andrew Lloyd-Webber to have had four shows running at the same time in London's West End.

His most famous show, Me and My Girl was originally performed at the Victoria Palace London, in 1937, starring Lupino Lane. Me And My Girl ran for a phenomenal 1,646 performances. It was revived again in 1952, and 1984, when it ran for eight years at the Haymarket and Adelphi theatres in London from 1984, later going on tour throughout Britain, and transferring to Broadway. The show's showstopper, "The Lambeth Walk" has the distinction of being the only popular song to be the subject of a leader in The Times. In October 1938 one of its leaders read 'While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances - to The Lambeth Walk.'

Gay went on to write songs for reviews by the Crazy Gang, and for star artists like Gracie Fields, Flanagan and Allen and George Formby, penning popular World War II songs such as "Run Rabbit Run". After the war, his songwriting diminished, and he concentrated on production.

Noel Gay Artists, now one of the leading British showbusiness agencies was formed by his son, Richard Armitage (born 1928) as a talent agency to supply singers to perform in Noel Gay hits.

Principal Shows

  • Jack O'Diamonds
  • Love Laughs!
  • O-Kay For Sound
  • Me and My Girl
  • The Little Dog Laughed
  • Lights Up

Principal Songs

  • "The Lambeth Walk"
  • "The Sun Has Got His Hat On"
  • "Leaning On A Lamp-Post"
  • "I Took My Harp To A Party"
  • "Me And My Girl"
  • "Run Rabbit Run"
  • "Hey Little Hen"
  • "The Fleet's In Port Again"
  • "Let The People Sing"
  • "There's Something About A Soldier"
  • "All Over The Place"
  • "Round The Marble Arch"
  • "Are We Downhearted?; No!"
  • "Only A Glass of Champagne"
  • "You've Done Something To My Heart"
  • "The King's Horses"
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