From Head Chorister at All Souls, Langham Place, London and a musical education firmly rooted in the classics, Tony took a job as a tea boy in a small London music publishing company and thereby began a career which established him as one of the UK’s leading arrangers, conductors and record producers and a world-famous composer of popular songs and music for television.
For the first two years, he made the tea, ran errands, did the filing and played piano for the many singers that visited the office in search of a song. He also ran a dance band at the weekends, taught himself orchestration and played piano in pubs and for a local dancing school.
The major break came when he joined Top Rank records in 1957 and, whilst still only 18, wrote his first international hit song Look for a Star, featured in the film Circus of Horrors. Billy Vaughan’s instrumental was no. 1 in the USA.
UK national service briefly interrupted Tony’s progress but he chose to serve 3 years with the band of the Coldstream guards. During this time Top Rank folded but Tony managed to find a new job in the record business working part-time (and quite legally) for Pye Records where he co-produced and wrote the musical arrangements for such artistes as Lonnie Donegan and Kenny Ball.
On leaving the army in 1962 to work full-time at Pye he produced hits with Emile Ford, the Brook Brothers, Jimmy Justice, Mark Wynter, Sue Nichols and The Searchers for whom he also wrote Sugar and Spice.
It was the teaming of Tony and Petula Clark at Pye, however, that really made the magic happen when, in 1964, Tony wrote, arranged and produced the classic Downtown which sold over three million records worldwide and established Petula as an international star!
This was the start of a golden period which produced such global successes as: Call Me (for Chris Montex), I Know a Place, My Love, You’re the One (written with Petula) and (with co-writer Jackie Trent):- Where are you Now (uk #1 for jackie in 1965), I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love, Don’t Sleep in the Subway, The Two of Us, (duet with Jackie and #1 in Australia in the late 60’s), The Other Man’s Grass is Always Greener, Who am I, A Sign of the Times, Colour my World and Joanna (for Scott Walker).
In 1970 Tony left Pye records to allow himself more flexibility. This included independent record productions, concerts, stage, film and tv music and earning himself a reputation as the ‘hatchet man’ on the long running tv talent show, ‘New Faces’. (he told it like it is!)
From 1978 – 1982 he lived in Dublin and worked extensively for RTE producing and appearing with his wife Jackie Trent in television music series and specials. Their TV musical “Duets for Piano and Voice” won a special award at the 1981 Montrieux Television Festival.
His TV theme credits include:- Crossroads, Man Alive, Emmerdale, Neighbours, Sportsnight, Hadleigh, Airline, The Champions and Codename. Film scores include: Travels with my Aunt and Sweeney Two.
Stage musicals include ‘The Card’, London 1973 and 1994 and ‘Rock Nativity’ (1976) written with David Wood.
Tony’s songs have been featured in over 100 films, countless television productions and have been performed or recorded by such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, George Shearing, Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey, Sammy Davis Jnr, Jack Jones, Dolly Parton, Nancy Wilson and Shirley Bassey.
From 1985 – 1995 (whilst living in Sydney) Tony was producer and musical director of Australia’s largest annual live televised festival of christmas music, ‘Carols in the Domain’.
He has been guest conductor in popular music concerts with the BBC Radio Orchestra, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and major Australian symphony orchestras.
Tony’s ‘Sounds of the Seventies’ instrumental theme provided the inspiration and original samples for the Pepe Deluxe record ‘Woman in Blue’ which became the theme music for the Levis jeans commercial and a top twenty hit in 2002.
Tony has been associated with Variety the children’s charity since 1982 and was chief barker (president) of Variety Australia between 1987 & 1989. He has also served as international president and as chief barker of tent 36, Variety great Britain. His long association with variety has created another career as an experienced event producer.
Tony is as busy as ever, currently tying himself up in knots on various projects. He also spends lots of quality time in Menorca with his wife Maggie.