Norman Newell

Norman Newell, OBE (25 January 1919 — 1 December 2004)[1] was born in Plaistow, Essex (now Greater London), and was a successful British record producer in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as co-writer of many notable songs. As an A&R manager for EMI he worked with artistes such as Shirley Bassey, Vera Lynn, Russ Conway, Bette Midler, Judy Garland, Petula Clark, Jake Thackray, Malcolm Roberts and Peter and Gordon. Newell was particularly known for his recorded productions of West End musicals.[2]


Newell was the head of EMI's Columbia label for many of the label's most successful years. He was also a highly sought after lyricist (sometimes writing under the pen-name, David West), responsible for co-writing songs that included "My Thanks To You" (music by Noel Gay) and "Portrait of My Love" (music by Cyril Ornadel), a huge hit for Matt Monro. In addition he provided the English lyrics for "More" (the theme from the film Mondo Cane,the lyrics of Shirley Bassey's 1961 number one it 'Reach For The Stars' composed by Nini Oliviero and Riz Ortolani), "This Is My Life" ("La vita"), written by Antonio Amurri and Bruno Canfora), "The Importance of Your Love" ("Important C'est La Rose", by Gilbert Bécaud) and "Never, Never, Never" ("Grande, Grande Grande"). He also wrote (with composer, Philip Green) the United Kingdom's 1962 Eurovision Song Contest entry, "Say Wonderful Things", (sung and recorded by Ronnie Carroll). The song was later recorded in the United States by Patti Page.

He also wrote the English lyrics to the German song "Sailor", a #1 hit for Petula Clark and a Top Ten hit for Anne Shelton in 1961. In 1964 he produced Peter and Gordon's number 1 hit "A World Without Love".UK Singles Chart chart-topper.

In his later years he penned a sensitive lyric to Pietro Mascagni's "Intermezzo" from Cavelleria Rusticana. The song, entitled "Pray For Love", was recorded by Vince Hill.

His numerous contacts with those in authority in the publishing industry in the United Kingdom assisted EMI in securing the rights for British recordings of cast albums of many American shows opening in London. Cast recordings of popular West End shows were popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and were huge sellers for EMI.

Newell also wrote the lyrics for the West End musical "Mister Venus" (music by Trevor H. Stanford, aka Russ Conway), but the show was not a success.

Newell continued working as a producer into the 1980s, most notably on Shirley Bassey's 1984 hit album with the London Symphony Orchestra, I Am What I Am.

During his career, Newell's honours included one Grammy, an Emmy and three Ivor Novello Awards for his contribution to the entertainment industry, plus six British Music Industry Awards. In 1966, the song "Forget Domani" from the film The Yellow Rolls-Royce, with lyrics by Newell to music by Riz Ortolani won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. In 1999, Newell's song, "Portrait of My Love" was honoured at the BMI Awards in London for having crossed the threshold of two million radio plays.

His songs have been covered by Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin.

Newell retired in 2001 to his home in West Sussex, but after a series of debilitating strokes was later moved to a local nursing home. He was awarded an OBE in 2004, just before his death.

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