Subtitled “The life and times of musician, bandleader and show business icon Geoff Love”, this beautifully bound and presented hardback, published by its author Bill Birch and funded by donors, is only available via mail order from the local Information Centre in the village of Todmordon, the West Yorkshire hometown of the easy listening legend.
Beginning with Geoff’s African-American grandfather and part-Cherokee grandmother, his background is traced through to his bumpy upbringing as the son of “dance artist” Kidd Love, who specialised in a tabletop sand dance, and Yorkshire lass Frances Maycock. Once this early biographical detail is dealt with the book turns into a slightly dry collection of ‘facts’ on Geoff’s blossoming and ultimately hugely prolific career as an arranger and bandleader. Sadly for me there was little on the many albums of movie and TV themes so loved by charity shoppers of the UK, but considering the size of the man’s catalogue and the variety of people he worked with through the years this is perhaps unsurprising.
The author also reproduces testimonials from collaborators and friends such as Tommy Steel, Dame Vera Lynn, Ron Goodwin, Sir Ken Dodd, Max Bygraves and many more, all of which help to paint a picture of a talent highly respected in his field, calm under pressure, kind, humorous and really an all-round good egg. As nice as this is, we learn little about Geoff the man, as there were no interviews conducted with his immediate family or himself due to Love, his wife (Joy – Joy Love!) and their two sons all being deceased (Geoff died in 1991). I like a biography to dig below the surface a bit and tell a story, and this we don’t get.
Having said this, there’s a wealth of information for fans; you just have to put up with the dry nature of the prose and a couple of odd turns of phrase from Birch, e.g. Love’s collection of gold, silver and platinum discs are described as “…collectively one short of 30” (so 29 then?), while Mrs Mills’ cause of death isn’t given as it is for other colleagues; instead we hear that she died “weighing 16 stone”, which seems a funny way to put it, especially since 16 stone doesn’t seem much by today’s standards.
Where A Love Affair With Music really comes into its own is through the wealth of archive and family photos, album covers, label scans and press cuttings which probably make up a quarter of the book. These and the overall attention to detail make it clear that despite the author’s limitations, it really is a labour of Love. (Sorry. No, really sorry. I couldn’t stop myself.)
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Music biographies, anything to do with the world of EZ or light entertainment.
One thing you’ve learned
That Geoff worked with Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich. Who’dathunkit?