Wednesday 29 August 2012

Mr Piano

Amazed by how many readers remember Dickie Henderson - and even have tales to tell of him - I'm emboldened to recall another of the strange, faintly troubling showbiz presences of my early years, and another Henderson - Joe 'Mr Piano' Henderson. He's a reminder of how popular a pretty, er, basic style of piano music was with the record buyers - and indeed sheet music buyers (remember sheet music?) - of the Fifties and thereabouts. This was the age of Russ Conway, Winifred Atwell and the ineffable Mrs Mills, when jingly piano solos often rode high in the charts (at the 'sophisticated' end of the spectrum was Horst Jankowski's A Walk in the Black Forest - Number 3 in the UK as late as 1965).
  'Mr Piano' - whose looks, I must say, are not improved by that ill-advised cravat (the ability to carry off a cravat is not given to all) - was for some years Petula Clark's main squeeze and musical collaborator, but apparently he decided he'd sooner be 'Mr Piano' than 'Mr Petula Clark'. My recollection of him is from a slightly later period when he had his own radio show, one of those inescapable programmes that seemed to be always there. And then it was gone, as a new age dawned - the age of Horst Jankowski perhaps?  How long ago it all seems. And is.


  1. Memories,
    Like the corners of my mind
    Misty water-colored memories
    Of the way we were

    We must have been easily pleased or at least our parents were. It was the lack of dialogue, the thing that made them so cringe worthy, sitting on their stools, grin set in epoxy, teeth flashing, look at the keyboard, look at the camera, grin. Why did they wear gold rings on their little fingers, those pianists, some sort of gay signal maybe. All the while, in the background, Moura Lympany and Arthur Rubinstein were giving us the real thing, as Russ Conway cantered on with Sidesaddle.

  2. Ah yes - and somewhere in the middle, Semprini. 'Old ones, new ones, loved ones, neglected ones...' How we radio listeners suffered in those dear dead days.

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