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Ronnie Hazlehurst

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Biography

b. 13 March 1928, Dukinfield, Cheshire, England, d. 1 October 2007, St. Peter Port, Guernsey, the Channel Islands. Hazlehurst’s mother was a piano teacher who had little success with the young Ronnie, who preferred to progress at his own pace - also teaching himself trumpet after its owner (an elder brother) joined the army in 1939. While working in a cotton mill office, Hazelhurst played with several local combos before becoming a professional musician with the George Chambers Band, winners of the All Britain Dance Band Championships and regular broadcasters on the BBC Light Programme throughout the 50s. After a disagreement centred on Chambers’ excessive thrift, Hazlehurst served outfits led by Nat Allen, George Elrick and Harry Payne prior to National Service which was spent blowing cornet in a regimental band. A civilian again, he freelanced in the Manchester area where he met Granada television’s Peter Knight who offered him a post as assistant musical director of musical television quiz show Spot The Tune after Hazlehurst’s employment by Woolf Philips as conductor, arranger and deputy band leader for a cabaret season at London’s Pigalle. When the Knight contract expired, Hazlehurst spent nine months behind a record stall in a Watford market before he was taken on as a BBC staff arranger. In 1968, he was promoted to Head of Music For BBC Television Light Entertainment. During his time with the BBC he wrote the theme tunes for popular television shows such as Are You Being Served?, Blankety Blank, Last Of The Summer Wine, Some Mothers Do ’Ave Em, The Two Ronnies, and Yes, Minister. He was also involved with the Eurovision Song Contest and conducted the UK entry on seven occasions. Another highlight of his career was conducting 1982’s Royal Command Performance orchestra. Hazlehurst relocated to Guernsey in the Channel Islands in the late 90s where he spent the remainder of his life. He was awarded a Gold Badge from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters in 1999.