Top SongsSee All
About Mike Sammes
b. 19 February 1928, Reigate, Surrey, England, d. 19 May 2001, Reigate, Surrey, England. The son of a photographic equipment dealer, Sammes attended the local grammar school and played cello in its orchestra. After serving in the RAF for his national service, Sammes worked with his father and played piano in a local dance band called the Meltones. In 1954 Sammes followed bandmate Bill Shepherd to the George Mitchell Singers, and both men were also members of the splinter group the Coronets. Sammes greater interest in vocal music led to the formation of the Michael (later, Mike) Sammes Singers in 1957, while he was working for a London publishing firm. Featuring himself, Shepherd, Valerie Bain, Marion Gray, Ross Gilmour and Enid Hurd (d. 1993), the mixed choirs professional debut was at the London Palladium where they appeared frequently as accompanists to solo stars such as Judy Garland. As well as being the name most readily mentioned whenever a BBC Light Entertainment producer required a polished vocal group (and having their own Radio 2 series, Sammes Songs), the Singers (later recruits included Mel Todd and Mike Redway) were employed on innumerable studio sessions for Cliff Richard, Michael Holliday, Tommy Steele, Val Doonican, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, Matt Monro, Julie Andrews, Cilla Black, and even the Beatles (I Am The Walrus and The Long And Winding Road). The singers also supplied the voices for Ken Dodds Diddymen and the UK television puppets Pinky And Perky.
The Mike Sammes Singers recorded in their own right for HMV Records, and had a UK Top 20 hit in 1967 with Somewhere My Love (Laras Theme from the movie Dr. Zhivago) - which peaked at number 14 after overtaking a rival version by Manuel And His Music Of The Mountains. They also recorded as the Knightsbridge Chorale. As Redd Wayne, Sammes recorded cover versions of hits songs for the Embassy label. Sammes included many fascinating stories of the people he worked with over the years in his autobiography, which was published in 1995. He died in an old peoples home with little fanfare and no close family.
- Reigate, Surrey, England
- Feb 19, 1928