The Mike Sammes SingersView in iTunes
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Michael Sammes was born in Reigate, Surrey, and studied cello, singing, and arranging. He went to work for a music publisher and formed the Mike Sammes Singers during the mid-'50s. A vocal ensemble of varying size whose members were often divided up into smaller ensembles for session work, the Mike Sammes Singers were busy from the start, making regular appearances on the BBC, singing on the bill of variety shows at the London Palladium, doing guest appearances on television programs, and singing on recording sessions backing up various singers. The group intersected with skiffle and rock & roll surprisingly early, singing backup to the Vipers Skiffle Group. Members of the Mike Sammes Singers were also present for the first recording session by Cliff Richard & The Shadows on July 24, 1958, where they backed the band up singing "Schoolboy Crush," the original A-side of their first single (which was quickly flipped over in favor of the harder rocking Ian Samwell original "Move It"). They were very busy during the '60s, primarily in the pop field, though they also provided the choral backing for a critically acclaimed studio cast recording of the Wright/Forrest musical Kismet, conducted by Mantovani for Decca/London's Phase 4 label, featuring Robert Merrill. They later had a contract with Fontana Records, which led to a recording featuring the group performing Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado under conductor John Gregory. The group also had its own BBC program, Sammes Songs. The group and several of its members intersected with the Beatles on two key recordings — that was the Mike Sammes Singers backing up the band on their recording of "I Am the Walrus," and they would also turn up singing the choral backing on "Good Night." The Mike Sammes Singers remained very busy into the '70s, doing recordings for television (Secret Service) and appearing on the small screen (The Val Doonican Show, 1971). They worked on sessions with Olivia Newton-John and were still doing studio recordings into the next decade and beyond.