Harry Robinson musician/composer

Henry "Harry" Robertson standing next to the Park Cafe where he performed musicials and piano recitals to a packed house. Building to the right is the Elgin Museum on South College Street, Elgin, Scotland

Henry “Harry” MacLeod Robertson standing next to the Park Cafe where he performed musicals and piano recitals to a packed house before relocating to London. Note: The building behind Henry is the Elgin Museum -North College Street, Elgin, Scotland [photo taken in mid ’50s]

The Park Cafe

Reconstructing Harry’s early years has been a slow process though am beginning to get a sense of the man through my study. Initially, I learned of him through friend, John Ruggeri, who spent time around him growing up. He was a family friend of the Bonici family and near the same age as promoter Albert Bonici’s youngest sister, Rosanna. Rosanna was a teenager working at the Park Cafe when she met Harry, who was known as Henry whenever visiting Elgin. She remembers him writing a chapter a day of the stories he created for publication and described him as a good friend. He wasn’t full of himself and never boasted about his accomplishments though discussed some of the high points with her. One of the artists that Harry enjoyed working with was Julie Andrews though I have not learned what the project was as of yet.  https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/hoots-mon-harry-robinson/

Henry often stayed with Stanley and Rosanna in Elgin when he came to visit his mother and spent time with the Bonici clan. He was close to his mother and returned to Elgin for visit until her death in December, 1988. He also remained friends with the Bonici family and enjoyed visits to his hometown…

In the early 1950’s, entrepeneur Albert Bonici began working with Henry who had left college because of a bout with TB. After working with Albert on his first dance promotion, he began booking the young musician to perform at the Bonici family’s Park Cafe. They also provided refreshment and helped sponsor Henry when performed his musicals around the area. Young Henry had already played to appreciative audiences as a child when he taught himself the Warsaw Concerto [notes below] and the Park Cafe was an opportunity to perform for the crowds that would pack the small cafe to listen to new creations from Henry Robertson.

Harry Robertson film scores: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJVq8vI0z1U&list=PLz-cIm6otlQ2lOFHHJXT1vo0qEDSMaopM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isG3-rQqxZA&list=PLs3T-t417YhQsmBzy-QvI4d5HR8yLY5-f

The task of gathering bits of cultural history regarding the north of Scotland’s music scene during the 1960s has been a fascinating study thus far. One of the surprises has been in learning about Henry Robertson of Elgin who was known for his musical accomplishments in London besides touring Australia with Tommy Steele. Known professionally as Harry Robinson, he was a musician, actor, band leader, musical director, composer, and producers who influenced popular music through his work in British television, film, and musicals in London’s West End. Robinson arranged and conducted the Lionel Bart musicals Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be [1960]; Maggie May [1964)]; and served as Musical Supervisor and co-writer for Elvis! [1977]

Besides duties as musical director for Six- Five Special [BBC 1957], Oh Boy! [ITV 1958] Around The Beatles [1964] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZQTKeBQtto and Shindig! [1964-65], Harry Robinson is remembered for the 1958 British hit “Hoots Mon” when band leader for Lord Rockingham’s II. He is perhaps best known for his excellent scores for a few of the Hammer films [horror genre]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjvKSbFJGYkHarry Robinson  was the son of Henry Robertson and Margaret Millar [Anderson] Robertson of Elgin, Morayshire in Scotland.  Though learning basic piano at an early age,  he wanted to become an archaeologist, studying the subject at university “before giving up his academic studies because of his poor health, and becoming a music teacher in London.” He started working occasionally as an arranger for Decca Records before becoming the musical director for Tommy Steele.

Harry worked with Craig Douglas in future recordings besides Only Sixteen which was a hit for the singer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxXJ1OebPaI

In 1959, after having several hit recordings with his band, Lord Rockingham’s 11 in 1958/59, Harry Robinson began recording with various artists such as Craig Douglas featured above. Craig Douglas, Tommy Steele, and several other popular British singers used Robinson to develop their recording careers. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/hoots-mon-harry-robinson/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Robertson_(musician)

Born in Elgin in Scotland on November 19th 1932 as Henry MacLeod Robertson, Harry took private piano lessons for a year from Fannie Baxter [see end of post] followed by “instruction in composition, harmony and counterpoint” from an English piano teacher/composer .

“It was a film that got me interested in music, I went to see DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT as a kid. The film I don’t think I can remember but I did take notice of the music which was THE WARSAW CONCERTO by Richard Addinsell. http://www.classicfm.com/composers/addinsell/music/warsaw-concerto/ The melody kept going around in my head; even after a few days I still kept hearing it. It virtually haunted me and I felt that I had to do something about it. I became determined that I would have piano lessons and learn how to play this music but I set myself a time limit of just 12 months. I don’t think I realised just how difficult that would be but I was young and I suppose a little bit naive. I pestered the life out of my Mother and finally she gave in and agreed to let me have piano lessons; I think because I was so enthusiastic I learnt very quickly and soon managed to play the Richard Addinsell piece. I even performed it in front of an audience and won a competition for my rendition of the music. I would have been contented with that but as time went on I began to discover other types of music and wanted to learn more. I pestered my Mother again, who found a music teacher who was English, but was living close to my home town of Elgin in the Highlands of Scotland. He was recovering from the illness tuberculosis and had been told that the air in Scotland would help his path back to fitness. He was actually a composer but had begun to teach to pay his way. I had instruction in composition, harmony and counterpoint from him. After finishing my lessons with him I became bored with music; probably one of the many phases that I went through and I decided that I would become an archaeologist.” Interview: http://www.runmovies.eu/harry-robinson/ https://jonman492000.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/harry-robinson/

Henry Robertson, was a teenager when Rossana Bonici met him whilst working in the Park Cafe in the late ’40s. She recalled Harry was using pseudonym Henry Macleod to write stories for publication and that he would finish a chapter per day.In the early ’50s as Harry was composing musicals, friend Albert Bonici invited him to play piano and perform musical numbers at the Park Cafe in Elgin. The two had first worked together when Albert with Harry’s help, organized a mini tour featuring the Ray Ellington Band. After spending time in London Soho’s 2 i’s Coffee Bar, Mr. Bonici expanded the cafe in 1956 to include a stage and which created a regular venue for Harry to hone his skills as musician and composer. He also used larger rooms like the High Church on South Street using local people in the productions. Below is opening credits of a musical comedy that a young Henry Robertson composed and directed:

Magic in the Glen - Henry Robertson 1951

Magic in the Glen – Henry Robertson score with lyrics by Donald MacDonald

 

cast of Magic in the Glen. Henry Robertson is wearing a dark suit [front row]

cast of Magic in the Glen includes Henry’s sister, brother-n-law, girlfriend, and other young people from Elgin. Henry Robertson is wearing a dark suit [front row]

Nineteen year old Henry Robertson was attending college in Aberdeen when he wrote, directed, and produced Magic in the Glen with Donald MacDonald though he wasn’t formerly trained in music. His college career was cut short when he had his first bout with TB and returned to live with his mother in Elgin after staying in a nearby TB clinic in Scotland. Harry attended the University of Aberdeen in the early 1950’s though left do to health problems.  After treatment he gave piano lessons, wrote and composed musicals and worked as a journalist for a local Elgin newspaper, The Courier.

Ms Bakewell representing the University of Aberdeen answered my query about Henry Robertson’s education: “[Harry] was indeed a University of Aberdeen student in 1951-52. He was enrolled on the M.A. degree and took Latin, English Literature and Psychology. It then states on his student record that he had been admitted to hospital and that his fees were to be held over. The University never heard from him again.”

cocktail capers 1

 

Musical producer Henry Robertson [aka Harry Robinson] worked with Elgin Dramatic Society and publicity was through “The Park Cafe” a branch of the PC Holding Company. The cafe was where Henry had opportunities to perform his plays and compositions in the ’50s before going to London.

Though he struggled with reoccurring health issues, Henry “Harry” moved to London where he made a name for himself with his many talents. “Don’t You Rock Me, Daddio” with string orchestra arrangement of Van Morrison’s skiffle hit was Harry Robinson’s first claim to fame before the UK number 1 “Hoots Mon! with Lord Rockingham’s 11. “I was stoney broke. They paid cash for the performers, but a check for the composer, and it was made out for Harry Robinson [instead of Henry Robertson]. So I rushed down to the bank and said, “There’s been a terrible mistake… I completely forgot to check with the Decca record company what they were doing. They put the record out and there was my name emblazoned as “Harry Robinson” [with singers Morris & Mitch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK5OqX9AisA%5D . It became a hit record and I was then known, so I stuck with it.’  From Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde.  Note: Harry went on to arrange/direct dozens of songs and compose film scores besides his work as music director, band leader, and producer as listed at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0731862/

http://www.45cat.com/45_arranger.php?ta=Harry+Robinson

http://www.45cat.com/45_search.php?sm=re&sq=Harry%20Robinson

Maybe Tomarrow [Billy Fury w/Harry Robinson] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu7uJqYygrA

 

Henry Robertson

 

c.Planet News Ltd. London

Henry Robertson marriage to Myrtle “Ziki” Arbuthnot, Baroness Wharton c.Planet News Ltd. London

They had four children:

http://www.thepeerage.com/p8455.htm#i84546

Lord-Rockinghams-XI-008

Harry Robinson conducting Lord Rockingham II for Oh Boy! [ ITV 1958]

Tommy [Hicks] Steele who first worked with Harry on the Six Five Special [1957] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6BLsRmqB08, hired Mr. Robinson to be his advisor and band leader when he toured Australia in 1960. Tommy Steele was also the first of the London-based artists who came to be known singing at the 2 ‘I’s Coffee Bar and where promoters and agents congregated and where the earliest pop music show, Six Five Special, was first broadcast. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tommy-steele-mn0000515856 In 1958 Jack Good, who broke with BBC over create differences with the Six Five Special, signed on with ITV to present Oh Boy! and Harry continued his duties as music director. He also served as band director/composer for Lord Rockingham’s XI and wrote several tunes including their big hit, Hoots Mon though he was a self-taught musician. It was likely that any training in writing music would have been from his early education at Elgin Academy if not from family life. Harry’s gift for composing came at an early age and had written his first score in his teens.

Tommy [Hicks] Steele who first worked with Harry on the Six Five Special [1957] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6BLsRmqB08, hired Mr. Robinson to be his advisor and band leader when he toured Australia in 1960 and wrote and arranged for him. Tommy Steele was also the first of the London-based artists who came to be known singing at the 2 ‘I’s Coffee Bar and where promoters and agents congregated and where the earliest pop music show, Six Five Special, was first broadcast. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tommy-steele-mn0000515856 In 1958 Jack Good, who broke with BBC over create differences with the Six Five Special, signed on with ITV to present Oh Boy! and Harry continued his duties as music director. He also served as band director/composer for Lord Rockingham’s XI and wrote several tunes including their big hit, Hoots Mon.

‘Towards the beginning of his career, he created a string orchestra arrangement of Van Morrison’s skiffle hit ‘Don’t You Rock Me Daddio”. Decca put the record out crediting Henry as “Harry Robinson” plus a check with “Robinson” instead of Robertson. “It became a hit record, and I was then known, so I stuck with it.”‘ Quote from Henry Robertson from  the book, “Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde”.

Earlier in 1958, Jack Good produced, “Oh Boy!” for BBC rival station ITV, and again employed “Harry” as musical director. The format of the program was to be strictly a music show which was new to British television. http://sixtiescity.net/PopTV/PopTV.shtm Among various duties, Harry Robinson also served as band leader and composed music for the newly formed Lord Rockingham’s XI. His tune, “Hoots Mon! [there’s a moose loose aboot the hoose] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jeu72y0f4Kc  became a his first chart hit at number one. Of course, fame never turned Henry’s head though he enjoyed an enduring career in music. Hoot Mon! Fried Onions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1O6p84lYw7s Hoots Mon! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIekZvhyrsk

Harry Robertson Eurovision: http://www.andtheconductoris.eu/index.htm?http://www.eurovisionartists.nl/conductor/dir020.asp?ID=269

http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Harry_Robertson_(musician)

‘”In 1958, he entered the television industry and soon became a musical director for EMI and Decca Records. He was arranger for many British pop music TV specials, as well as for the SHINDIG series in America. He has worked as a composer, arranger, and conductor on numerous documentaries, children’s films, television commercials, and features since the mid-1960s. In association with Hammer, Robertson provided notable scores for low-budget thrillers such as HOUSE IN NIGHTMARE PARK (1973) and children’s films such as DANNY THE DRAGON (1966) and THE JOHNSONTOWN MONSTER (1971) and Tyburn Film’s premiere thrillers, THE GHOUL and LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF (both 1975). By 1980, Robertson had taken back his real name, acting as both producer and composer for the 1981 fantasy adventure film HAWK THE SLAYER. Robertson began working for Hammer in 1968, composing the theme and episode music for their short-lived television series JOURNEY TO THE UNKNOWN (1968)… Joan Harrison [producer] loved this theme and asked Robertson to score the whole series. “but you only had a week to do each one, and you would have had to have started halfway through one to do the next one… Philip asked how long it took me to compose, and I said I was pretty fast. So he was amazed at how fast I got the scores to him. And eventually, Philip liked what I wrote… In the film world, you’re trained to write so fast that you don’t have time for the nuances of musicality so my writing was much more sonorous and large… Harry Robertson’s music for these lush and sensual horror films remain a highlight of Hammer’s later film production, underlining with melodic romanticism their dynamic qualities of horror and sexuality, and his music is among the prettiest to appear on horror film soundtracks of the 1970s.”‘ Music from the House of Hammer: Music in the Hammer Horror Films, 1950-1980 By Randall D. Larson  Note: Robinson was arranger on over 150 singles [45 discs] during his recording career which began in 1957 whilst music director for Six-Five Special.

Notes regarding Fanne Baxter – piano teacher:

  • MISS FANNIE BAXTER.
    Northern Scot of 28/09/1946 Deaths: Fannie Elliott older daughter of Thomas Baxter – Draper, died
    27/09/1946. Funeral service The South Church.
    Northern Scot of 5th October 1946, page 7, South Church Tribute Notice:-
    Referring to Miss Baxter, Mr Macleod said:-
    “Miss Baxter was one of the best known personalities in this town and congregation. As a musician
    and as a teacher of music she was held in the highest esteem, and by her personal qualities she
    endeared herself to a wide circle of acquaintances. Miss Baxter became organist of the South Church
    in 1919, and for 19 years she performed her duties with the highest skill and with tireless devotion,
    winning the respect and affection of successive generations who served in the choir and junior choir.
    She also served as a teacher in the Mission Hall Sunday School. It was characteristic of her
    unselfishness and loyalty that, in spite of the heavy calls made on her time and energy, she took up
    temporary duty again as organist for some years during the war, and also acted as teacher in the
    congregational day School. Miss Baxter was a practical Christian. She went the second mile. She did
    more than her share. It was a real joy for her to be of service. It is an axiom in church circles that if
    you want a job to be done your best response will come from those who already do more than enough.
    Miss Baxter was a witness to the truth of that axiom. But her practical Christianity, her unselfish
    service, and cheerful devotion, undoubtedly sprang from her deep faith and the quality of her spiritual
    life. She too, found grace in a humble cultivation of the means of grace.”
    Note: Henry Robertson was taught by Fannie Baxter.

Harry Robinson credits: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0731862/ all titles: http://www.45cat.com/45_search.php?sq=harry+robinson&sm=go

For more  about Harry: https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/hoots-mon-harry-robinson/ and other SCOTBEAT articles:  https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/shindig/  https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/early-music-television-uk/ 

 

 

 

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In the early 1950s, Albert Bonici began promoting dances though it had been an ambition since his teenage years. When he and Henry Robertson co-organized a string of jazz dances in the north Scotland, they could not have predicted the enormous success of the venture. Albert Bonici became one of the most respected promoters in the UK having arranged a high volumn of music venues throughout the north of Scotland which delighted music lovers during the height of the jazz and beat music era. Whilst known for booking the Beatles at the beginning of their 1963 tours, Albert Bonici brought most of the top British acts to north-east Scotland besides working with Scottish musicians to boost their careers. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and also a tribute to a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Albert A Bonici hosted many up and coming bands who went on to gain international acclaim for their contributions. Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 SCOTBEAT.wordpress.com. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference https://scotbeat.wordpress.com when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

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Posted in 1960's pop music

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