Patrick Halling A Voyage in Music
Patrick Halling: A Voyage in Music is the second part of the epic biographical Tales from the Halling Valley centring largely on my own family. It continues the story of my father Patrick Clancy Halling, started in the previous two tales, and set against the background of five decades of music. It's heavily based on "From the Halling Valley River", which was first published at the Blogster website . I apologise for any involuntary inaccuracies contained in that first piece, as well as any that continue to exist, although everything expressed within it is the total and absolute truth to the very best of my abilities, and the story has been researched to within an inch of its life. And what a tale it is. Within its head-spinning sweep, there'll be references to the following individuals and institutions...Tom Jones, Donovan, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, the Beatles, the Who, Bob Dylan, John Williams, Paul McCartney, Richard Harris, Jethro Tull, David Essex, Charlie Chaplin, Bing Crosby, Pete Townsend, Enya, and many many many more legendary figures of our times. It's a tale not to be missed, cram-pack full of detail and anecdote, and with a strong spiritual essence, so...read it, print it, re-read it, circulate it...but above all, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy it....
Unless I'm mistaken it was in the early 1960s, a decade which witnessed an unprecedented explosion of popular and youth culture along with all the other revolutionary changes occasioned by that most totemic of decades that my father Patrick Clancy Halling moved into the musical session world where he was to record for film, television and above all popular music.
For much of his career, his main role was that of principal violin - also known as the leader or concertmaster - traditionally in charge not just of the string section but the entire orchestra and so answerable to the conductor alone, but he also served as the fixer contracted to recruit the players for a particular session.
According to what he's told me, he worked on early sessions for British musical sensations Lulu, Cilla Black and Tom Jones, as well as with superstar producers Tony Hatch and Mickie Most. Hatch wrote most of Petula Clark's hit singles of the sixties, some alone, some with his wife Jackie Trent, and she went on to become a major star in the US as part of the so-called British Invasion of the American charts, as did several acts produced by Most, including the excellent Herman's Hermits, featuring former child actor Peter Noone.
Pat became close to both Most and John Cameron, who arranged for the influential Scottish songwriter Donovan once he'd broken away from his early Folk style towards more Rock and Pop oriented songs beginning with an early psychedelic offering, the enigmatic "Sunshine Superman" (1966), which was a massive stateside hit, and the first produced by Most.
Among those session musicians who played for Most in the '60s were Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, who also arranged for him. Page went on to join seminal British Rock band The Yardbirds, which had been managed first by Simon Napier Bell, then by Most's business partner Peter Grant. When the Yardbirds collapsed in 1968, the two remaining members Page and bassist Chris Dreja set about forming a new band, also to be managed by Grant. Page's first choice as vocalist Terry Reid turned the job down, but he recommended a young 19 year old singer from the Midlands of England known as Robert Plant. Page duly travelled to Birmingham with Dreja and Grant to look the youngster over, and was impressed by what he saw. He then invited Plant to spend a few days with him at his home, the Thames Boathouse, in the beautiful little Berkshire village of Pangbourne for initial discussions related to the band...all this taking place in the summer of '68, just months before I joined the Nautical College situated a few miles from the village itself. So, the nucleus of the New Yardbirds came into being.
Shortly afterwards, a friend of Plant's, fellow Midlander John Bonham came onboard as drummer, and an old session buddy of Page's, John Paul Jones replaced Chris Dreja as the band's bass player, as Dreja wished to leave the music scene to concentrate on a new career as a photographer. Jones supplemented this role by helping Page with the arrangements, and performing keyboard duties. The New Yardbirds were now ready to fulfill their contractual tour of Scandinavia, which they began in September 1968.
With their first album - recorded at West London's Olympic Studios - not yet released, they made their debut as Led Zeppelin at the University of Surrey on October 15, 1968. This was followed by a U.S. concert debut on December 26, 1968, and so Led Zeppelin went on to become the most famous Hard Rock band of them all equalled only by the Stones in terms of legendary darkness and mystery.
It seems incredible that a force of such seismic power and influence as Led Zep should emerge from the relative innocence of the London Blues and session music scenes of the sixties. But then a similar thing could be said of British Rock as a whole. What was it that transformed an interest among young men of largely middle class origins in the bleak brooding music of the Blues into a musical movement which took America and the World by storm in the late '60s and early '70s? That's not an easy question to answer, but I'm going to give it some sort of go.
The Blues themselves may provide something of a solution, because they are believed to have begun life as a secularised version of the black Gospel music of the American south, with lyrics reflecting the sensuality, isolation and anguish of lost souls victimised by life and alienated from God, and they found fertile soul in the still repressed United Kingdom of the late 1950s and early sixties, and especially in the affluent south among men such as Brian Jones from the genteel spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucester, Eric Clapton from Surbiton - via Ripley - in Surrey, and Jimmy Page from nearby Epsom, also in Surrey.
But the Rock explosion was not just fuelled by the Blues. By the early '60s, an effervescent fusion of Rock and Roll, Skiffle, R&B, Doo-wop, Soul and even traditional Classic Pop had emerged from several British cities most notably the tough industrial towns of Liverpool and Birmingham, before going on to take the UK charts by storm. It was the sound of Beat, and no band encapsulated it quite like the Beatles.
The Beatles are seen by some as the inventors of modern guitar Pop. While this is debatable, they are without doubt the best known and most successful Pop group in history. Yet they themselves resisted being typecast as mere Pop, and could be said to have ultimately promoted a type of Rock with Pop elements which was yet no less removed from pure Pop than the Blues-based Rock of their chief rivals the Rolling Stones.
The overwhelming melodicism of their classic period of 1964-'69 was founded on a vast variety of musical genres including Trad Pop, Rock and Roll, Country, Soul, Classical, Folk and even the Blues, leading one to conclude that largely through the Beatles, Rock became the ultimate musical smorgasbord, a veritable Babel of musical styles. During their brief few years of existence, they informed the development of Rock to a greater degree than any other group or solo singer, including the Stones, whose more rythmic Blues-based music went on to form the basis of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal...yet even these have benefited from the Beatles. What's more, for a time the Stones themselves were at least partly a Pop group, facilitated by the multi-instrumental gifts of founder member Brian Jones.
Yet, while the Beatles remain indelibly associated with modern Pop, by about 1966, they were as much a Rock as a Pop group and this had less to do with their music than their lyrics. These had started to acquire an intellectual dimension by that totemic year significantly attributable to the influence of Bob Dylan.
Pop as a whole in fact had acquired a gravitas at odds with the innocent and sentimental music of the early Beatles, as well as Gerry and the Pacemakers, Freddie and the Dreamers and other bands within the outdated Beat genre as a result not just of Dylan's influence as the first great poet of Rock, but an increasing melodic complexity on one hand, and an increasing darkness on the other. This latter was significantly attributable to the growing influence of the Blues, pioneered by the Stones, and leading ultimately to the British Blues movement of the late 1960s, which birthed the first wave of Hard Rock.
The term "Rock" was somehow perfect in describing it, although when this moved in to supplant Pop as the main name of the wild new music, it's impossible to say. One thing is certain...as soon as it did, Rock became far more than a mere music form. I'd go so far as to say that it was a way of life of life almost from the outset, a philosophy, even a religion one of whose prime components was rebellion against the traditional Christian moral values of the West.
Could this be the reason - or at least one of the reasons - why the US and Britain came to be its spiritual homelands, given that these are the nations in which Evangelical Christianity have found the most fertile soil over the last few hundred years? Perhaps so. Whatever the truth, Rock is clearly more than just another form of Pop, a term first coined . Yet, in the modern sense of the word, Pop is intrinsically tied to Rock, or rather was...until about 20 years ago, when Rock surely started to decline as the leading medium of youthful rebellion, to be slowly replaced as such by other popular music forms such as Hip Hop and R&B.
Today, Rock is no longer the dark side of Popular Music...so much as just another one of its many faces, just another branch of the entertainment industry. After nearly half a century of social and sexual agitation, Rock has very little ability left to shock, although some are still offended by persisting lyrical darkness...myself for example...and I'm proud of that fact...of my continuing capacity for moral outrage. Yet, the damage has been done: Western society has been irrevocably altered by Rock Music and the socio-sexual revolution it led.
Had it not been for this devastating youthquake, Pop might never have moved beyond the kind of novelty song Tin Pan Alley was producing at such a furious rate in the early 1950s, such as Bob Merrill's wonderful "She Wears Red Feathers"; but would that have been such a bad thing, when you consider Rock's ultimately disastrous legacy, the result of over a half a century of "letting it all hang out"? I don't think so.
But to return to Pat, whose contribution to the growing Rock movement was ever both innocent and involuntary:
For the legendary Beatles producer George Martin, he led the string section that was filmed live for "All you Need is Love", written specially for the "Our World" program which secured an international audience of 350 million people at the height of the so-called Summer of Love on July 25th 1967. It was the first satellite broadcast in history, and one of the most famous pieces of film ever made. Also taking part were Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Donovan and Marianne Faithful.
A year later, he worked on a project that was as much a concept album as any of the Beatles records of the same period, Ken Moule's superb "Adam's Rib Suite", which fused elements of Jazz, Pop and Classical music to recount the history of womankind from Eve to Cleo Laine. Needless to say though, it was infinitely less successful than any comparable record within the Rock genre, Rock being at the cutting edge of popular culture in a way that Jazz had once been, but no longer was.
However, by the turn of the decade, a reconciliation between the two alienated factions was well under way, with Jazz-Fusion coming from one camp and the more populist Jazz-Rock from the other. In '75, Pat served as leader for Mike Gibbs' "Only Chrome Waterfall Orchestra", an unsung classic of British Jazz fusion which was finally released on CD in 1997. Adam's Rib followed it on CD exactly ten years later.
By the time of his involvement with "Adam's Rib", Pat had already moved into the worlds of film and television, and his early TV career included solos for the much-loved British sitcom "Steptoe and Son" (1962-1974), penned by one-time Tony Hancock writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, with music, including the well known theme tune, by the Australian composer Ron Grainer.
When it came to his early film career, he served as concertmaster for the great Johnny Green on Carol Reed's version of Lionel Bart's "Oliver" (1968), arguably the greatest film musical of recent times, and for John Williams on “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971), another film masterpiece based on a stage musical, this time directed by Norman Jewison. In addition to Williams, he's served as concertmaster for several other major 20th Century musical figures, Dimitri Tiomkin, Nelson Riddle, Maurice Jarre, Georges Delerue and Wilfred Josephs among them.
He worked with Williams again on the musical version of James Hilton’s “Goodbye Mr Chips” (1969), directed by Herbert Ross, and featuring wonderful performances by Peter O’Toole as Chips and Petula Clark as his wife Katherine. The screenplay was fashioned by one of the 20th Century’s leading playwrights, Terence Rattigan, while Leslie Bricusse provided both the music and lyrics for the songs, some of which are enchanting despite what certain critics have said about them. David Lindup, father of Level 42's Mike, whom Pat had first met while they were both working for British Jazz legend John Dankworth was one of the orchestrators on the project, under the masterful musical direction of John Williams. Sadly for all its virtues, "Chips" was not a critical success, although it was nominated for several major awards and enjoys a passionate following today, notably on the internet.
Also in '69, Pat worked on another film which has since grown in stature, David Lean's penultimate movie "Ryan's Daughter", written by playwright and screenwriter Robert Bolt and with music by French composer Maurice Jarre. Like "Chips", "Ryan's Daughter" was poorly received by the critics, although it was a moderate box office success, and is considered by many today to be a worthy addition to Lean's superb body of work.
As the sixties gave way to the '70s, Mickie Most entered the second phase of his glittering Pop career, although he was briefly involved with highly successful Hard Rock band the Jeff Beck Group which had been formed in early 1967. Beck had signed a personal management contract with Most who apparently wanted to turn him into a solo star, even though his backing band included one Rod Stewart on lead vocals. When the band failed to produce any hit singles, his business partner Peter Grant eventually took over their management, arranging a six week tour of the US band in early '68, during which they took America by storm, anticipating the success of another Grant-led band, Led Zeppelin.
While Grant went on to Rock mega-glory with Zep, Mickie set about turning RAK - which they'd founded together in 1969 - into one the key Pop record labels of the '70s and home to several classic Glam, Pop and Teenybop acts such as the soulful Hot Chocolate and former Detroit rocker Suzi Quatro - with whom Pat worked on several occasions with Mickie at the helm - as well as Mud, Arrows, Kenny, Smokie and Racey.
Talking about Pop, in the early 1970s, John Cameron became an unlikely member of a successful Pop act himself as part of CCS, a band he put together with Mickie for RAK, and featuring the Blues guitarist Alexis Korner as band leader, but with Danish musician Peter Thorup doing most of the vocals.
Alexis Korner has been called the Founding Father of British Blues, and with good reason because possibly more than anyone he was the incubator of the '60s Blues Boom which was one of the great cornerstones of the entire Rock movement. Some of the bands who were swept to stardom in its wake went on to be part of the celebrated British Invasion of the US charts which transformed the American cultural landscape.
Born in Paris of Austrian and Greek ancestry, Korner began his musical career in 1949 as a member of Chris Barber's Jazz Band, but his love of the then lesser known music of the Blues led to his forming the band Blues Incorporated in 1961 with singer Long John Baldry, harmonica player Cyril Davies, guitarist Jack Bruce, saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith and drummer Charlie Watts.
The list of musicians who were drawn to Korner's regular Rythym and Blues night at the Ealing Jazz Club in the early '60s included future members of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones, as well as Rod "The Mod" Stewart, and spectacularly handsome Oxford undergraduate Paul Jones. Paul had apparently been Brian Jones' first choice as vocalist for his band the Rollin' Stones, which he put together in 1962 with piano player Ian Stewart from Cheam in Surrey who'd been recruited from an ad in Jazz News, but he turned him down, only to resurface at a later date as front man for another Blues-based band which achieved mainstream Pop success, Manfred Mann.
A mere nine years after their formation, with poor Brian Jones no longer living, the Stones started work on the album which is widely considered to be their masterpiece, "Exile on Main Street". These first sessions took place at Keith Richards' Villa Nellcote in the south of France, although several tracks had already been recorded at West London's Olympic Studios. Much has been written of the ultra-decadence surrounding the "Exile" sessions in Villefranche-sur-Mer, and how they define the Rock and Roll lifestyle following a mere decade of Rock which had nonetheless already altered Western society as a whole almost beyond recognition. However, blame for this transformation can't in all conscience be laid exclusively at the feet of Rock.
It seems pretty clear to me that the cultural revolution of the 1960s didn't just appear out of nowhere, and that tendencies inimical to the Judaeo-Christian moral fabric of our civilisation can be traced at least all the way back to the Enlightenment - the so-called Age of Reason - which could be said to be the starting point of the Modern Age. Much of the groundwork had already been done in other words, and that's especially true of the two immediate post-war decades, in which the Existentialists and the Beats became international icons of revolt, with lesser groups like the Lettrists of Paris acting as scandal-sowing forerunners of the '60s Situationists...Britain's first major youth cult surfaced in the shape of the Edwardians who later became known as Teddy Boys or Teds...a cinema of youthful discontent flourished as never before creating a desire among many young people to be identified as wild ones and rebels without a cause...and Rock and Roll - already jaded by '72, the year the Stones' "Exile on Main Street" finally saw the light of day - took over the world, with Elvis Presley as its first true superstar.
That same year saw Pat work on an infinitely more humble musical project, Richard Harris' "Slides" which, while a success on the Billboard charts at the time has since been sadly overlooked, although it was released on CD with another Harris album "My Boy" in 2005, receiving very high ratings from Amazon reviewers both in Britain and the US.
A year later, Pat worked on the first of two pictures helmed by the great Fred Zinnemann, whom he was kind enough to introduce me to - and on the set of "Julia" (1979) unless I'm mistaken - and he was utterly enchanting. This was "The Day of the Jackal", based on the novel by Frederick Forsyth, and with music this time by Georges Delerue, whom I also met with Pat. Although not a commercial success, it's now seen as a classic British thriller in the tradition of Carol Reed's "The Third Man", and Edward Fox's mesmerising performance as the elegant ruthless Jackal helped turn him into a major star.
By the start of the 1970s, for a teenager like myself and many of my friends, Rock and Roll music had divided into two categories. One we knew as Commercial, a word we tended to spit out like some kind of curse, the other, Underground, or some other term reflective of its shadowy exclusivity. While the former was effectively pure Pop, whose domain was the Hit Parade or Pop charts weekly featured on the British TV program Top of the Pops, the latter consisted of groups who made music largely for the growing album market...and there were those Rock acts such as Led Zeppelin who never graced the singles chart despite earning fortunes through concerts and album sales. Within the new alternative of Album Rock many strains co-existed as I recall, including Hard or Heavy Rock, Soft Rock of the type of Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills and Nash, and the Art Rock pioneered by the Beatles, Frank Zappa, the Doors and others which eventually spawned the Progressive genre.
Despite himself Pat was part of it from the outset, notably through his association with the Beatles, who by '67 were at the forefront of the Rock revolution, having arguably left much of their Pop career behind them once they'd retired from touring. However, it was his relationship with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull that marked the height of his relationship with the new Art Rock phenomenon. For singer, flautist and composer Anderson, as well as conductor, arranger and keyboard player David Palmer, Pat served as leader for two Tull albums, namely “Warchild” from 1974, and “Minstrel in the Gallery” from a year later, both recognised today as undisputed masterpieces of Progressive Rock.
During the Prog Rock boom which was at its height from about 1969 to 1975, Pat played on several albums which while not successful in the mould of best sellers by Tull, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes and others, have nonetheless received fresh critical acclaim through the internet, some of this verging on the adulatory.
They include “Definitely What” (1968) by Brian Auger and the Trinity, which once featured Rod Stewart on vocals, “Cosmic Wheels” (1973) by Art Rock pioneer Donovan, “Beginnings” (1975) by Yes guitarist Steve Howe, "Octoberon" by Symphonic Rock masters Barclay James Harvest, and two by Gordon Giltrap, “Visionary” from '76 and “Perilous Journey” from a year later. Giltrap I feel safe in saying is one of the most outlandishly gifted guitarists -acoustic or otherwise - in the history of recorded music.
For the illustrious composer-producer-arranger-conductor Johnny Harris, who has worked in various capacities with some of the greatest names in entertainment of the last half century including Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jnr., Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Johnny Mathis and Tom Jones, he led the strings on Harris’ second solo album “All To Bring You Morning” (1973), which featured no less than three one-time members of Prog Rock legends Yes, namely the aforesaid Steve Howe, vocalist/composer Jon Anderson, and drummer Alan White, who just happened to be recording next door at the time as Johnny and friends and were great admirers of his work. It achieved a CD release in 2008.
For his very close friend Derek Wadsworth he played on “Metropolitan Man” (1974) by Alan Price, the former keyboardist for British Invasion band the Animals. They scored an international mega-hit in 1964 with their version of the traditional Folk song "The House of the Rising Sun" produced by Mickie Most, who masterminded the first two years of their career, during which they became Pop sensations to rival the Beatles.
Alan Price left in 1965 to form his own Alan Price Set, which, with songs such as the classic “House that Jack Built” from '67, combined musical virtuosity with lashings of commercial appeal, a gift that was one of the hallmarks of the classic Pop of that decade, but which had perhaps declined somewhat by the turn of the decade.
In the early '70s though, the Glam-Glitter genre took off in Britain, taking the Pop charts by storm in the process. Among those artists who became superstars through Glam, a mixture of Pop and Rock whose purveyors flaunted an outrageous androgynous image were Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Rod Stewart and Elton John, all of whom had been striving for Rock and Roll success for years. Bolan is widely credited with inventing Glam, although it had been foreshadowed in the '60s by the Stones and others, but its true pioneer was arguably Little Richard Pennington, the flamboyant R&B shouter from Macon, Georgia, who'd once been a boy preacher in a Pentecostal church.
Despite their freshly acquired Pop star status, Bowie, Stewart and John all continued to be serious album artists as well as teenage pin-ups, while other Glam Rock acts were viewed largely as singles bands...and the early 70s was a golden age for the chart Pop single, turning hungry struggling artists into TV glamour stars by the score.
They included East End boy David Essex, who became a star on the fringes of Glam not through serious Rock nor teeny bop Pop but largely through acting both onstage and in the movies. It was his own song, "Rock On" a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1974 that really put him on the map as a major heart throb, together with the '73 movie "That'll be the Day", directed by Claude Watham, in which he plays Jim Maclaine, a young tearaway in a bleak pre-Beatles Britain who yearns for Rock and Roll stardom and ultimately leaves his young family to pursue it. In the follow-up, "Stardust" (1974), also the name of Essex's third British hit single, he achieves his dream, only for it to turn on him and for Jim to end up as a drug-addled recluse in full decadent seventies mode.
Both of the hit singles, "Rock On" and "Stardust" were produced by New Yorker Jeff Wayne. Pat worked with him not just on "Rock On", but on his own “Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds” which has achieved classic status since its release in 1978.
Towards the middle of the '70s, Soul music, a popular genre which had evolved out of Gospel and R&B birthed a mutation known as Disco, one of whose hallmarks was the liberal use of strings often played in a staccato style. In consequence, Pat was involved in several major Disco projects, including the band "Love and Kisses" formed by Alec R Costandinos, which produced three albums between 1977 and 1979. While these have been obscured by the Italian Giorgio Moroder's work with Donna Summer, they were massively successful at the time, yielding several US hit singles and helping to define the Disco sound. Both Pat and Costandinos had earlier worked with another French Disco pioneer Jean-Marc Cerrone on his hit "Love in C Minor" album from 1976.
Pat played on several other Costandinos records, including an acknowledged Disco masterpiece "Romeo and Juliet" (1978) which unlike many of the classic works of the Disco era was not flagrantly risqué in the lyrical department, which for a Christian such as myself can only be a good thing.
He also worked on the album “Limelight Disco Symphony” (1978) by Melophonia which was a Disco tribute produced by Franck Pourcel and Alain Boublil to Sir Charles Chaplin, who'd died the year before. Some years previously, Pat had worked with him on sessions which involved some of his classic films being set to new musical arrangements, and he'd introduced me to him, and he was charming; in fact it was one of the most memorable events of my life.
Boublil went on to write the libretto for the musical "Les Miserables" with composer Claude Schonberg, and it was John Cameron who arranged it for them. Pat was involved with the London production of "Les Miz" for many years as the leader of the orchestra, one of several highlights of a theatrical career which has involved his working with such legends as Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Tiny Tim, Barry Manilow and Boy George of Culture Club, and touring with Tom Jones, Barrie White and others. But it's his participation in Bing Crosby's final tour of London in 1976 that is perhaps the most memorable of all. After the tour Pat actually managed to wangle an autograph from Bing during a final recording at Maida Vale studios. Der Bingle had initially objected to Pat helping himself to a piece of his sheet music, before relenting with the words, "he seems like a good man", and autographing the music into the bargain. Just a day later, he died on a gold course in Spain during a year which saw the deaths of a string of cultural giants including - in addition to Bing - Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx, Joan Crawford, Maria Callas and Elvis Presley.
Cameron was one of the men responsible for a rare classic of British Soul, "Central Heating" by London-based Funk outfit Heatwave, with John serving as producer on the sessions, and Pat as leader, and with songs mainly written by keyboardist Rod Temperton. Temperton was the white Englishman who went on to write several songs for the best-selling long player in musical history, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" from 1982, as well as for Quincy Jones, Patti Austin, George Benson, Anita Baker and others. Three Heatwave songs, all written by Temperton and produced by Cameron were millions sellers in the US, these being "Boogie Nights", "The Groove Line" and the lovely ballad, "Always and Forever", sung straight by the heart by the tragic Johnny Wilder Jr, who had one of Soul's greatest and most underrated voices.
At the end of the '70s, Pat played what was possibly his most memorable ever solo for a television program and that was for the stunning opening and closing theme to BBC’s “Life on Earth” (1979), composed by Edward Williams and conducted by Marcus Dods. This 13-part documentary series by British naturalist David Attenborough - whom I met very briefly at a social function with his wife in the late 1970s, most probably ’79 - is widely considered to be one of the greatest ever made; but for some people- and as a Christian I include myself among them- it was controversial, given its foundation in the Theory of Evolution.
The '80s was a difficult decade for session musicians like Pat as the synthesizer started dominating Popular Music, even managing to sideline the electric guitar. Nonetheless, Pat's career proceeded apace. In 1980, he worked for his friend John Cameron on "A Mirror Crack'd" based on the Agatha Christie novel, with music by Cameron, and featuring a roll call of Hollywood legends including Elisabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, and Kim Novak, with Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple. Pat even had a small non-speaking role in the movie as a World War II bandleader, a walk-on admittedly but a featured one. He worked with Cameron again on a further star-studded Christie movie, "Evil Under the Sun". Both were helmed by Bond director Guy Hamilton, and produced by John Brabourne, and Richard Goodwin, who became a friend of Pat's, and they were to work together several more times in the '80s and '90s.
For Richard’s wife writer/director Christine Edzard, he was the violin soloist for “Biddy” (1983), working again with Christine - with Richard producing - on “Little Dorrit" (1988), based on the Dickens novel, and “The Fool” (1990), which was written by Christine with. All three movies were scored by French composer Michel Sanvoisin. Incidentally on “Little Dorrit”, based on the novel by Charles Dickens, Pat is credited either as soloist or song performer, duty he shared with his beloved friend, Catalan cellist Francisco Gabarro, known as Gabby, as well as the celebrated clarinettist Jack Brymer.
For Beatles legend Paul McCartney he led the orchestra for the soundtrack to the movie “Give My Regards to Broad Street” (1984), which sold well, including as it did reworked versions of six Beatles classics including "Eleanor Rigby", although the film itself was a critical and financial failure. Since '84, its reputation has barely improved, although on the US and British versions of Amazon it benefits from a good deal of affection on the part of everyday net users, a testament to the enormous good will MacCartney continues to generate on a worldwide basis.
Three years later, he worked with another Pop superstar of Irish ancestry, Enya Brennan, although unlike Macca she was actually born on the Emerald Isle. On the final track of her massively successful “Enya” album, "To Go Beyond II", his typically magnificent playing can be heard. The album was later remastered and renamed “The Celts” to be used by the BBC for the 1992 TV series of the same name.
Other television projects on which Pat worked in the '80s include “Hold that Dream” (1986) based on the novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford, with original score by longtime friend Barrie Guard, “Tears in the Rain” (1988), from a novel by Pamela Wallace, with music again by Guard, and “The Darling Buds of May” (1992-1993), based on the novel by HE Bates, and with music by Pip Burley and Guard.
In 1989, he worked with a yet another Rock legend, Pete Townsend, on the concept album "The Iron Man - The Musical", based on the novel by Ted Hughes. Townsend was of course the guiding spirit of the Who, whose contribution to the so-called British Invasion of the US by English bands, led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, was little short of earth-shaking, as even more than the Stones they provided the basis for much of the Hard and Heavy Rock to follow. Pete's father, Jazz saxophonist Cliff Townsend had been a colleague of Pat's for some years as they'd worked together on the Parkinson show for chat show king Michael Parkinson.
In 1990, he appeared on John Williams’ album “The Guitar is the Song”, having earlier worked with the great Classical guitarist on “John Williams plays Patrick Gowers and Scarlatti” (1972), and specifically on Gowers’ “Chamber Concerto for Guitar”, as well as “Portrait of John Williams” (1982), serving as leader of the String Orchestra for Vivaldi’s Concerto in D major, and “Cavatina” by Stanley Myers, known by many as the theme to “The Deerhunter”.
Regarding Pat's career in the present decade...Between 2000 and '02, Pat played violin parts on several demos which had been beautifully arranged by Barrie Guard for his Swing band Nuages, featuring myself on lead vocals. Nuages also gigged sporadically throughout that period to no great acclaim, although a final concert at the 2002 Shelton Arts Festival brought us the kind of intimate cultured audience we perhaps should have been aiming for all along.
There's a fascinating tale attached to English singer-songwriter John Dawson Read for whom Pat served as leader on his two '70s albums, “A Friend of Mine is Going Blind” and “Read On”. Sometime around 2005, the singer songwriter Michael Johnson included an MP3 of Read singing the title track of his first album, “A Friend of Mine” on his website, and many Read fans began communicating through the site in consequence. His subsequent re-entry into the music resulted in a belated third album in the shape of “Now…Where Were We?” released in 2005.
Until recently, Pat served as the leader for Roy Clarke’s "Last of the Summer Wine", the BBC comedy series that is the longest running in television history, under the headship of conductor Ronnie Hazelhurst, who has composed the original music since 1983, and conducted since 2000. A Jazz musician as well as a writer of strikingly original TV theme tunes such as those for “Are You Being Served” and “The Two Ronnies”, Ronnie also penned the gentle pastoral theme tune, famously graced by the harmonica playing of internationally renowned virtuoso Jim Hughes. Sadly he died in 2007, which brought Pat's involvement with the show to a melancholy close.
With Jim's help, Pat began work on an album of popular song standards featuring his son Carl on vocals in 2006. Eventually given the title “A Taste of Summer Wine” thanks to the generosity of Ronnie Hazelhurst, it's credited to James Hughes/Carl Halling with the London Swingtette, the latter consisting of, in addition to Pat's own Quartet Pro Musica, Judd Procter on guitar, Manfred Mann founder member Dave Richmond, and John Sutton, on bass, and John Dean and Sebastian Guard on drums. The album was engineered by sound recordist Tony Philpot, except for one track, the Frank Sinatra classic "With Every Breath I Take", which was engineered by Keith Grant, formerly of the legendary Olympic Studios, and finally released in 2007. It's sold a few copies.
Olympic became one of the great recording centres of British Hard Rock after it had been bought by Keith and Cliff Barnes in 1966, with the Stones, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Queen all recording there, as well as the Beatles, The Small Faces, Procul Harum, Traffic, Hawkwind and others.
Other recent projects of Pat's have included the world premiere of the string quartet “A Poet’s Calendar” by long-time friend Derek Wadsworth, which took place at the Riverhouse Barn Studio, Walton on Thames on the 10th March 2007, with Pat leading his own Quartet Pro Musica, and the first live performances of Quartets 1 and 2 by Jazz drummer and composer Tony Kinsey. As things stand, Pat plays in two quartets, the Leonardo formed in 1993, and Quartet Pro Musica, which Pat first formed as early as although needless to say only he remains from the original line-up.
Despite having worked as a professional musician for more than half a century, Pat is still a force within the music industry, and has recently spoken on television in his capacity as a former violinist for the Beatles. He also paints now under the quaint monicker of Clancy, the middle name he once rejected. Furthermore, he's still winning up to two races every Sunday for his local sailing club. There seems to be no end to the man's almost preternatural energy and force of will. Although there's no hard and fast evidence that Pat has Scandinavian blood, research related to the Norwegians who emigrated to the American Midwest - and particularly Minnesota -from about the mid-19th Century onwards, reveals that one of the characteristics of the inhabitants of the Halling Valley known as Hallings and speaking a dialect known as Halling is firmness “in thoughts and beliefs”, so that he would “rather break than bend”. This in the words of the Norwegian-American writer Syver Swenson Rodning, who in 1917 took first prize in an essay set by a man called Hallingen called “A Halling is a Halling wherever he is”. The Hallings themselves settled primarily in Spring Grove, Minnesota, with traces of their subculture surviving into the 1930s. Perhaps then, alone among the three children born to Phyllis Mary Halling, Patrick was a true Halling with roots deep in the Hallingdal in Norway's Buskerud County where the Halling Valley River lies.
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