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Max Harris

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Biography

b. 15 September 1918, Bournemouth, Dorset, England, d. 13 March 2004, London, England. A pianist, composer and prolific conductor-arranger for radio and television programmes. As a boy, Harris had private tuition on the piano up to the Royal Academy of Music Advanced Grade, and gave piano lessons himself, while still a teenager. He served as pianist-arranger with the Jack Parnell orchestra, played gigs with top sidemen such as Tommy Whittle and George Chisholm, and made his first broadcast in 1950 on the BBC’s Jazz Club. During the 50s he arranged for BBC Radio’s Show Band Show, conducted by Cyril Stapleton, which featured top US artists such as Frank Sinatra. He has also worked on many of Britain’s top-rated radio and television comedy shows and was involved in a special radio tribute to the Queen Mother on her 80th birthday. Harris’ compositions have included the title themes and/or incidental music for radio and television programmes such as Round The Horne, Young At Heart, Father Charlie, Mickey Dunne, Doomwatch, Poldark, Horseman Riding By, The Spies, Open All Hours, Mind Your Language, Porridge, Sherlock Holmes, On The Buses and Doctor’s Daughters. His ‘Gurney Slade Theme’, from ATV’s quirky The Strange World Of Gurney Slade (1960-61), starring Anthony Newley, made the UK Top 20, and won an Ivor Novello Award. Harris gained another ‘Ivor’ in 1964, when his ‘Bombay Duck’, from the Kipling television series, was adjudged ‘The Year’s Outstanding Orchestral/Instrumental Composition’. He also won the Designer and Graphics Association Award in 1980 for his work on The Pink Medicine Show. Besides his own recordings, he has served as arranger and musical director for many top artists, such as Ted Heath, Ella Fitzgerald, Dick Haymes, Owen Brannigan, and a series of four albums which brought legendary musicians Yehudi Menuhin and Stéphane Grappelli together on record for the first time.

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