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Arthur Greenslade (Holiday)

Arthur Greenslade was an arranger and conductor whose career extended from the pop music of the 1950s thru the 1990s, with more than one or two detours into rock and soul music during the 1960s and 1970s. Born in 1923, he was a musical prodigy who was taking piano lessons at four, and playing in a band at age 15. From that semiprofessional beginning in Gillingham, Kent, Greenslade moved through dance bands led by Cyril Stapleton and Vic Lewis, among others. He became still more visible when he joined Oscar Rabin's band on the BBC series Go Man Go. Greenslade later led his own band, Arthur Greenslade & the G-Men, on the BBC's Saturday Club. During the late '50s, Greenslade turned to conducting and playing piano accompaniment on record, and was soon working with the likes of Val Doonican, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Johnny Mathis, Billy Fury, and Dusty Springfield, and served as an arranger as well. He played piano in the rockabilly-style pick-up band (led by Joe Brown on guitar) backing Billy Fury on his legendary Sound of Fury album in 1960, and by the mid-'60s was a behind-the-scenes fixture in the British Invasion, serving as the music director on Them Featuring Van Morrison, by the Belfast-spawned R&B-based band Them, Cat Stevens' Decca LP New Masters, and on Dusty Springfield's The Look of Love album; but Greenslade's most widely exposed work in rock music was probably a single song he worked on for Andrew Oldham, in the latter's capacity as producer of the Rolling Stones and as founder and head of Immediate Records. Greenslade was engaged as the arranger and conductor of the orchestral accompaniment on Chris Farlowe's hit single rendition of the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards-authored "Out of Time"; that same orchestral track also exists mated to a demo version sung by Jagger, which turned up on the Rolling Stones vault exhumation album Metamorphosis. [Note: Although the Farlowe version was a huge hit in England, most serious Stones fans have little but contempt for Greenslade's string-and-horn-heavy arrangement, which made "Out of Time" seem much more of a pop song than it actually was.] The other hits on which Greenslade worked include "I Believe" by the Bachelors, "Je Taime" by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, and Shirley Bassey's "Never Never Never." He spent five years as the musical director for Engelbert Humperdinck and then a decade working in the same capacity for Shirley Bassey, and also enjoyed a long professional relationship with Rod McKuen, including work on the latter's score for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and writing several hundred arrangements across the decades, including those for "Love's Been Good to Me," "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," and "Seasons in the Sun." During the 1970s, Greenslade also worked with ABBA and Diana Ross, and served as musical director for such American television broadcasts as the Hollywood Spectacular Variety Show and the Miss World Pageant, and conducted at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. Greenslade's work as musical director for Rod McKuen took him to Australia, and he and his wife eventually relocated there. He passed away in 2003. ~ Bruce Eder
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