Matt Monro Overview

Matt Monro (1 December 1930 / 7 February 1985) was an English English people singer who became one of the most po***r entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s. Throughout his 30-year career, he filled cabarets, nightclubs, music halls, and stadiums in Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong to Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. He sold more than 100 million records Gramophone record during his lifetime.

 
He was born 'Terence Edward Parsons' in Shoreditch, London and attended Duncombe School in Islington. Affectionately nicknamed "the singing bus driver" (because one of his many occupations prior to achieving fame was driving the Number 27 bus London Buses route 27 from Highgate to Teddington), he got his first break in 1956 when he became a featured vocalist with the BBC Show Band. An important influence on his early career was the pianist Winifred Atwell, who became his mentor, provided him with his stage name, and helped him sign with Decca Records.

In 1957 Monro released Blue and Sentimental, a collection of standards. Despite the album's critical acclaim, Monro languished among the young male singers trying to break through at the end of the 1950s, many of them emulating Frankie Vaughan by recording sound recording and reproduction cover versions of American United States hits hit record . (Monro even recorded a version of Vaughan's "Garden of Eden" during this period.) A short recording contract with Fontana Records followed.

By the end of the 1950s, Monro's mid-decade fame had evaporated, and he returned to relative obscurity. He and his wife Mickie lived from her wages as a song plugger and his royalties from a TV Television advertising jingle for Camay soap. In 1959 he recorded a country country music pastiche song, "Bound for Texas", for The Chaplin Revue, a feature-length compilation of Charlie Chaplin shorts. It would be the first of many Monro soundtrack themes theme tune .Prior to producing the Peter Sellers album Songs For Swinging Sellers in 1960, George Martin asked Monro to record a satirical ditty to help the comedian imitate the song with a Frank Sinatra-type styling. When Sellers heard the recording he decided to use it to open the record rather than record his own version. However, Sellers billed Monro as "Fred Flange," and though it was a demoralizing experience at the time, the incident developed into a lifelong friendship with Martin, who subsequently asked Monro to begin recording with him for EMI's Parlophone record label. Their second single single (music) , "Portrait of My Love," reached number three in the UK Singles Chart.

By the following year, he had been named Top International Act by Billboard magazine, and his follow-up hits included "My Kind of Girl" (1961), "Softly as I Leave You Softly, as I Leave You (song) " (1962) and the song from the James Bond film From Russia with Love From Russia with Love (film) (1963). For the latter, his vocals were not used in the opening titles, as became the standard for the series; they were heard on a radio during the film and over the final credits. At the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest Eurovision Song Contest 1964 , singing "I Love the Little Things," he finished second behind Italy's 16-year-old Gigliola Cinquetti, despite an "excellent performance of the only English language song of the night." The Austrian entry "Warum Nur Warum?", sung by Udo Jürgens, caught Monro's ear, despite its sixth-place finish, and he recorded an English English language version titled "Walk Away" (with lyrics by Monro's manager Don Black Don Black (lyricist) ), earning him another hit single late in 1964. He also had a hit with the The Beatles' "Yesterday Yesterday (song) " in 1965, releasing the first single of the most recorded song of all time, predating even the Beatles' own. The following year, Monro sang the Oscar Academy Awards winning title song for the film, Born Free, which became his signature tune. The opening scene for the film The Italian Job featured Monro singing "On Days Like These." These two movie themes featured lyrics also written by Don Black, who started his career as a renowned songwriter when Monro challenged him to pen the English lyric that became "Walk Away." On December 31, 1976, Monro performed Walk Away on BBC1's A Jubilee Of Music, celebrating British pop music for Queen Elizabeth II's impending Silver jubilee.

Monro achieved fame in the United States when "My Kind of Girl" (1961) and "Walk Away" (1964) hit the Top 40. In 1966, following the death of Nat King Cole, EMI moved Monro from Parlophone to Capitol Capitol Records . After relocating to California and recording several albums with American arrangers arrangement , Monro returned to the UK and began appearing on EMI's Columbia Columbia Records label, his final U.S. album release being Close To You in 1970. This LP contained the uncharted (in the US) but widely played "We're Gonna Change The World", a semi-satirical song about women's liberation.

He continued touring and recording until just before his death, releasing a single and promoting it throughout the UK and Australia in 1984. In one of his final appearances he praised Boy George, noting the importance of quality recordings in all musical genres.Monro died from liver cancer Hepatocellular carcinoma in 1985 at the Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London, leaving a widow, Mickie, and three children: Mitchell, Michele, and Matthew. Mitchell, a professional pilot aviator , also died of cancer in 2004. A Memorial was held in Harrow.

The twentieth anniversary of Monro's passing spotlighted the continuing interest in his music, with a Top 10 Top 40 tribute compilation compilation album CD Compact disc (UK), a No. 1 concert DVD (UK), a BBC TV documentary, and an official website all appearing in 2005. A 2007 compilation CD entitled From Matt With Love reached the Top 40 of the UK Albums Chart during its first week of release.

In Autumn 2005 Matt Monro Jr. toured the United Kingdom with a tribute concert commemorating the anniversary. Also, EMI re-released Matt Sings Monro, a 1995 duet duet (music) album that combined his voice with the senior Monro's. Another posthumous Matt Monro duet, with Cliff Richard, appeared on Richard's duets CD, Two's Company, in 2007.

Monro never recorded a "live" concert album, preferring the technical purity of the recording studio and wanting his public performances to retain an element of uniqueness. However, in the past few years, commercially-released concert albums have emerged following meticulous remastering of radio and television shows, private recordings he commissioned. These include an intimate 1967 cabaret performance from his first tour of Australia; a 1967 BBC concert with Nelson Riddle; a 1966 arena concert before 24,000 fans in Manila; and one of his final concerts, recorded on the last night of his fourteenth and final Australian tour in 1984.

In recent years, many singers riding the resurging wave of retro-pop have cited Matt Monro as a strong influence, including Michael Bublé, Monica Mancini, and Rick Astley. Musicians' biographies regularly note his stylistic influence on their subjects, including Cass Elliot and Karen Carpenter. He continues to feature prominently on radio stations and CD compilations featuring po***r easy-listening vocalists.

After a near fatal accident some time ago, daughter Michele decided that she must leave something so that her son would know all about his grandfather and spent 3 years writing a biography of her famous father. The Singer's Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro. 656 pages, was released on 29 January 2010 by Titan Books Ltd.Most of Monro's recordings were produced or overseen by George Martin. Unlike his contemporaries, Monro recorded very few Tin Pan Alley standards during his career. (The exception was Matt Monro sings Hoagy Carmichael, one of his most highly-regarded albums.) Instead, he and Martin searched for material written by promising newcomers and commissioned English lyrics for dramatic melodies written by European composers. He also covered many of the most po***r stage and screen songs of the 1950s and 1960s. Over the years, his recordings featured arrangements by Johnnie Spence, Sid Feller, Billy May, John Barry John Barry (composer) , Buddy Bregman, Kenny Clayton, Colin Keyes, and Martin himself. Monro also teamed up with Nelson Riddle and Billy May for concerts broadcast by the BBC.

In 1973 Monro released a vocal version of the po***r Van der Valk TV-series theme titled "And You Smiled". It was his final hit. In 1977 he recorded "If I Never Sing Another Song", which became a latter-day standard among his contemporaries, its lyrics referring to the "heyday" of fan mail, awards, and other trappings of celebrity that had faded for them.He was married twice:
* Iris 1953 (divorced); one son Mitchell
* Mickie Schuller 1959-1985; one daughter Michele and one son Matthew Matt Monro, Jr.
 

 

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