A world of music - with Love from Yorkshire

Geoff Love back on Yorkshire turf for the final time with the baton, conducting the Young Person's Concert Foundation in Halifax, 1990
Geoff Love back on Yorkshire turf for the final time with the baton, conducting the Young Person's Concert Foundation in Halifax, 1990

He had a smile as broad as his home town accent, and with ability in abundance Yorkshireman Geoff Love was a musical talent of world reknown.

The musician, arranger and band leader died in 1991 at the age of 73, but in his career he was everywhere: providing the musical chops and repartee on Max Bygraves’ top rated television show; helming Shirley Bassey’s big-selling breakthrough albums; or turning his musical attention to jazz rock under the sobriquet Mandingo, a contrast to the lush but smoother styles of his Manuel and his Music of the Mountains alter ego, selling almost three million records in his own right.

The Todmorden Honorary Citizenship plaque on the house where Geoff Love was born, in Cambridge Street, Todmorden

The Todmorden Honorary Citizenship plaque on the house where Geoff Love was born, in Cambridge Street, Todmorden

Geoff’s home town Todmorden celebrates his legacy over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, September 2 and 3, leading up to what would have been his 100th birthday on September 4. There is a new biography of Geoff, penned by Bill Birch, peppering the story of Love’s amazing rise from his humble West Yorkshire beginnings with more than 150 pin-sharp photographs, plus walks, concerts and screenings to celebrate the Todmordian’s contribution to the musical world.

Bill’s book, A Love Affair With Music, opens up just how vast that world was. Love was in demand from the 1950s right up to his death, whether in the studio orchestrating Danny Williams’ hit version of Moon River, backing Frank Ifield on stage at a series of Las Vegas dates, or co-founding the Young Person’s Concert Foundation to give young people who otherwise may not have had the chance to enjoy or play music to do so.

He never forgot Todmorden, regularly conducting concerts there with Todmorden Brass Band, nor its townspeople him. But Love was also part of a wider musical world that still draws in appreciative listeners. Dewsbury fan Steve Johnson explains how, having seen Geoff on television as a child, he found later that a great Love arrangement could be inspiring, resulting in his starting his online The Geoff Love Appreciation website (www.geofflove.biz).

“I first became aware of Geoff Love as a child, when he appeared on television as the band leader for Max Bygraves. I didn’t really think much about him until I began encountering his TV and movie theme albums. His arrangements struck a chord with me and I found myself trawling charity shops for his LPs. Along with my best friend, I soon had quite a collection, but it was by no means comprehensive.

Geoff Love, who is subject of a new biography to be launched with a weekend of events in his home town of Todmorden

Geoff Love, who is subject of a new biography to be launched with a weekend of events in his home town of Todmorden

“Covering a swathe of musical genres, Geoff had quite a portfolio, but my heart was always with his TV and movie theme albums.

“I still listen to Star Wars and other Space Themes, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and other Disco Galactic Themes, Big War Movie Themes and Big Terror Movie Themes, finding myself whisked away to the fantastic worlds that Geoff’s music evokes.

“I set up a small website celebrating Geoff’s work, but I am by no means an expert on the man or his career. I am just a fan that enjoys listening to the albums he produced. 2017 may be Geoff’s centenary year, but his work will live on into the future for many years more.”

A Love Affair With Music brings you the full story, and you can order the £20 hardback book, and weekend event concert tickets, via Todmorden Information Centre’s website - www.visittodmorden.co.uk - or calling 01706 818181.

Max Bygraves hired Geoff Love as musical director for four of his hit TV series (1968, 1973, 1978 and 1979). Picture courtesy of Pearson Television

Max Bygraves hired Geoff Love as musical director for four of his hit TV series (1968, 1973, 1978 and 1979). Picture courtesy of Pearson Television