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Mike Sammes

Mike Sammes

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Michael William "Mike" Sammes (19 February 1928 – 19 May 2001) was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

A musician is an artist who plays a musical instrument. It may or may not be the person's profession. Musicians can be classified by their roles in performing music and writing music.Also....* A person who makes music a profession....

 and vocal
Human voice
The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal folds for talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. Its frequency ranges from about 60 to 7000 Hz. The human voice is specifically that part of human sound production in which the vocal folds are the primary...

Session musician
Session musicians are instrumental and vocal performers, musicians, who are available to work with others at live performances or recording sessions. Usually such musicians are not permanent members of a musical ensemble and often do not achieve fame in their own right as soloists or bandleaders...

The American Federation of Musicians defines arranging as "the art of preparing and adapting an already written composition for presentation in other than its original form. An arrangement may include reharmonization, paraphrasing, and/or development of a composition, so that it fully represents...

, performing backing vocals
Backing vocalist
A backing vocalist or backing singer is a singer who provides vocal harmony with the lead vocalist or other backing vocalists...

 on pop music recorded in the UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 from 1955 to the 1970s.


Born in Reigate
Reigate is a historic market town in Surrey, England, at the foot of the North Downs, and in the London commuter belt. It is one of the main constituents of the Borough of Reigate and Banstead...

, Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, Sammes was the son of pioneer photographer and film-maker Rowland Sammes. He began his interest in music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 by learning the cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

 and played in the school orchestra
An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...

 at Reigate Grammar School
Reigate Grammar School
Reigate Grammar School is an independent co-educational day school located in the town of Reigate, Surrey, United Kingdom. Intake is from 11 to 18, with the majority of its pupils entering at the age of 11, and others entering at 13 and 16.- History :...

. He then worked briefly for the music publisher, Chappell & Co.
Chappell & Co.
Chappell & Co. was an English company that published music and manufactured pianos.-History:It was founded in 1810 by Samuel Chappell in partnership with music professors Francis Tatton Latour and Johann Baptist Cramer. Cramer was also a well-known London composer, teacher and pianist...

 in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. After national service
National service
National service is a common name for mandatory government service programmes . The term became common British usage during and for some years following the Second World War. Many young people spent one or more years in such programmes...

 in the RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 in the late 1940s, he worked a variety of jobs until a fellow musician, Bill Shepherd, convinced him to form a group
Band (music)
In music, a musical ensemble or band is a group of musicians that works together to perform music. The following articles concern types of musical bands:* All-female band* Big band* Boy band* Christian band* Church band* Concert band* Cover band...

 called The Coronets. This male vocal group recorded some covers
Cover version
In popular music, a cover version or cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a contemporary or previously recorded, commercially released song or popular song...

 of current hits
Hit record
A hit record is a sound recording, usually in the form of a single or album, that sells a large number of copies or otherwise becomes broadly popular or well-known, through airplay, club play, inclusion in a film or stage play soundtrack, causing it to have "hit" one of the popular chart listings...

 for Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

 and did some back-up work for the Big Ben Banjo Band, but Shepherd lost interest.

Sammes, however, was greatly interested in the work and saw the business opportunities it provided. After bringing together the core group of singers in 1955, the ensemble was soon working four sessions a day, six days a week. They did back-ups for all the major and minor British singers, soundtrack
A soundtrack can be recorded music accompanying and synchronized to the images of a motion picture, book, television program or video game; a commercially released soundtrack album of music as featured in the soundtrack of a film or TV show; or the physical area of a film that contains the...

 and radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 work, and thousands of radio
Radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...

A jingle is a short tune used in advertising and for other commercial uses. The jingle contains one or more hooks and lyrics that explicitly promote the product being advertised, usually through the use of one or more advertising slogans. Ad buyers use jingles in radio and television...


Under the name of 'The Mike Sammes Singers' they recorded seven album
An album is a collection of recordings, released as a single package on gramophone record, cassette, compact disc, or via digital distribution. The word derives from the Latin word for list .Vinyl LP records have two sides, each comprising one half of the album...

s between 1962 and 1988. In addition, they performed on numerous albums for Disneyland Records
Disneyland Records
Disneyland Records is the original name of the Walt Disney Company's record company.After long associations with primarily RCA Victor Records, with a few select titles on Capitol, Disneyland Records was established by the Disney studio in 1956 with its first release entitled A Child's Garden of...

. Among the many hit singles featuring the Mike Sammes Singers are "No Other Love
No Other Love (1953 song)
"No Other Love" is a show tune from the 1953 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Me and Juliet.Richard Rodgers originally composed this tune for the NBC television series Victory at Sea...

" (Ronnie Hilton
Ronnie Hilton
Ronnie Hilton was an English singer and radio presenter. According to his obituary in The Guardian newspaper, "Hilton was one of those 1950s vocalists whose career coincided with rock and roll's 1956 onslaught on the ballad dominated hit parade...

), "A Handful of Songs" (Tommy Steele
Tommy Steele
Tommy Steele OBE , is an English entertainer. Steele is widely regarded as Britain's first teen idol and rock and roll star.-Singer:...

), "Why?" and "Strawberry Fair
Strawberry Fair (song)
Strawberry Fair is an English folk song .The song was collected by H. Fleetwood Sheppard in Broadstone, Devon in 1891. The text may have been re-written by Sabine Baring Gould and Fleetwood Sheppard.-Lyrics:...

" (Anthony Newley
Anthony Newley
Anthony George Newley was an English actor, singer and songwriter. He enjoyed success as a performer in such diverse fields as rock and roll and stage and screen acting.-Early life:...

), "Walkin' Back to Happiness
Walkin' Back to Happiness
"Walkin' Back to Happiness" is a 1961 single by Helen Shapiro. The song was written by John Schroeder and Michael Edwin Hawker and was released in the United Kingdom on the Columbia label on 29 September 1961. It was number one in the UK for three weeks beginning 19 October, but only reached #100...

" (Helen Shapiro
Helen Shapiro
Helen Kate Shapiro is an English singer and actress. She is best known for her 1960s UK chart toppers, "You Don't Know" and "Walkin' Back to Happiness".-Early life:...

), "The Last Waltz
The Last Waltz (song)
"The Last Waltz" is a song written by Barry Mason and Les Reed. It was one of Engelbert Humperdinck's biggest hits, spending five weeks at number one on the British charts in September and October 1967...

" (Engelbert Humperdinck
Engelbert Humperdinck (singer)
Engelbert Humperdinck is a British pop singer, best known for his hits including "Release Me " and "After the Lovin'" as well as "The Last Waltz" .-Early life:...

), "Green Green Grass of Home
Green Green Grass of Home
"Green, Green Grass of Home", written by Claude "Curly" Putman, Jr., is a country song originally made popular by Porter Wagoner in 1965 and Bobby Bare in 1965. It was sung later by Tom Jones in 1966 when it reached number one in the UK Singles Chart on 3 December staying there for a total of seven...

" and "Delilah
Delilah (1968 song)
"Delilah" is a song recorded by Welsh singer Tom Jones in 1968. It was written by Barry Mason, with music by Les Reed.-Success:It reached No 1 in the charts of several countries including Germany and Switzerland. It reached No 2 in the British charts in March 1968 and was the sixth best selling...

" (Tom Jones
Tom Jones (singer)
Sir Thomas John Woodward, OBE , known by his stage name Tom Jones, is a Welsh singer.Since the mid 1960s, Jones has sung many styles of popular music – pop, rock, R&B, show tunes, country, dance, techno, soul and gospel – and sold over 100 million records...

) and "Tears
Tears (Ken Dodd song)
"Tears" is a song written by lyricist Frank Capano and composer Billy Uhr, and was first recorded by Rudy Vallee in 1929. It was made famous as a single by Ken Dodd, which was released in 1965...

" by Ken Dodd
Ken Dodd
Kenneth Arthur Dodd OBE is a British comedian and singer songwriter, famous for his frizzy hair or “fluff dom” and buck teeth or “denchers”, his favourite cleaner, the feather duster and his greeting "How tickled I am!", as well as his send-off “Lots and Lots of Happiness!”...


Barry Gray
Barry Gray
Barry Gray was a British musician and composer who is best known for his work for Gerry Anderson.-Life:...

 used them on the title themes
Theme music
Theme music is a piece that is often written specifically for a radio program, television program, video game or movie, and usually played during the title sequence and/or end credits...

 for three of Gerry Anderson
Gerry Anderson
Gerry Anderson MBE is a British publisher, producer, director and writer, famous for his futuristic television programmes, particularly those involving specially modified marionettes, a process called "Supermarionation"....

's shows, Supercar
Supercar (TV series)
Supercar was a children's TV show produced by Gerry Anderson and Arthur Provis's AP Films for ATV and ITC Entertainment. 39 episodes were produced between 1961 and 1962, and it was Anderson's first half-hour series. In the UK it was seen on ITV and in the US in syndication...

, Stingray
Stingray (TV series)
Stingray is a children's marionette television show, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and produced by AP Films for ATV and ITC Entertainment from 1964–65. Its 39 half-hour episodes were originally screened on ITV in the UK and in syndication in the USA. The scriptwriters included Gerry and...

, and The Secret Service
The Secret Service
The Secret Service is a British children's espionage television series, made as a Century 21 production for ITC Entertainment and broadcast in 1969...

. They helped out The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

 on the songs "I Am the Walrus
I Am the Walrus
"I Am the Walrus" is a 1967 song by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Lennon claimed he wrote the first two lines on separate acid trips. The song was in the Beatles' 1967 television film and album Magical Mystery Tour, and was the B-side to the #1 hit "Hello,...

" and "Good Night
Good Night (song)
-External links:*...

"; as well as on their last album, Let It Be
Let It Be (album)
Let It Be is the 12th and final studio album released by the English rock band The Beatles. It was released on 8 May 1970 by the band's Apple Records label shortly after the group announced their break-up....

, at the behest of Phil Spector
Phil Spector
Phillip Harvey "Phil" Spector is an American record producer and songwriter, later known for his conviction in the murder of actress Lana Clarkson....

. Sammes also provided the distinctive basso backing vocals on Olivia Newton John's early country
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

Crossover (music)
Crossover is a term applied to musical works or performers appearing on two or more of the record charts which track differing musical tastes, or genres...

 hits, including "Banks of the Ohio
Banks of the Ohio
"Banks of the Ohio" is a 19th century murder ballad, written by unknown authors, in which "Willie" invites his young lover for a walk during which she rejects his marriage proposal. Once they are alone on the river bank, he murders the young woman....

", "Let Me Be There
Let Me Be There
"Let Me Be There" is a popular song written by John Rostill. It was first recorded by Olivia Newton-John in 1973 and included on her album of the same title. The country influenced song was Newton-John's first Top 10 single in the U.S., peaking at No. 6, and also won her a Grammy Award for Best...

" and "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)." However, his group, the Mike Sammes Singers, have only one entry in The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles, for "Somewhere My Love
Lara's Theme
"Lara's Theme" is the generic name given to a leitmotif written for the film Doctor Zhivago by composer Maurice Jarre. Soon afterward, it became the basis of the song "Somewhere My Love."- Original composition :...

" in July 1967.

Sammes rewrote the song, "Marianne
Marianne (1968 song)
"Marianne" was the Italian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1968, performed in Italian by Sergio Endrigo.The song is a ballad, with Endrigo expressing his love for the tititular character. He sings, however, that she never stays with him, and he wonders about what she is doing...

", with Bill Owen to provide Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard, OBE is a British pop singer, musician, performer, actor, and philanthropist who has sold over an estimated 250 million records worldwide....

 with a minor hit in September 1968.

The Mike Sammes Singers remained very busy into the 1970s, doing recordings for television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 (The Secret Service) and appearing on the small screen (The Val Doonican Show
Val Doonican
Val Doonican is an Irish singer. From 1965 to 1986 he was a regular fixture on the BBC Television's schedule with The Val Doonican Show, which featured his own singing performances and a variety of guest artists...

, 1971).

By the mid 1970s, though, the demand for backing vocals had faded considerably, due to the introduction of multi-tracking
Multitrack recording
Multitrack recording is a method of sound recording that allows for the separate recording of multiple sound sources to create a cohesive whole...

 and synthesizer
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...


Sammes died at the age of 73 in May 2001, several months after a bad fall from which he had never fully recovered. Johnny Trunk, of Trunk records, was able to recover a number of reel-to-reel tapes from Sammes' house (despite it having been ransacked by house clearance), which he went on to compile as the CD 'Music For Biscuits', so-named because it features 1960s/70s advertising jingles for Tuc biscuits, Shield soap, Dulux paint etc.

External links