Gordon Lorenz: Producer and songwriter best known for his No 1 ‘There’s No One Quite Like Grandma’

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The Independent Online

It's hard to write about Gordon Lorenz without being condescending. He produced easy listening music for the silent majority, and as a songwriter his best-known composition was "There's No One Quite Like Grandma", which admittedly was a No 1.

Gordon Lorenz was born in Childwall, Liverpool in 1943. His parents were in the Salvation Army and after a time in drama school he became an evangelist. He retained his interest throughout his life and wrote for their magazine, War Cry. However, after his father died in the early 1970s, he took a full-time job with Border Television writing music for television programmes.

In 1980 Lorenz wrote a tribute song for the Queen Mother's 80th birthday, "There's No One Quite Like Grandma", but a music publisher at EMI dismissed it. He then contacted Lorenz a few days later to say that he couldn't get the tune out of his head and instead of celebrating the Queen Mother, it would work better as a Christmas single. It was recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport with a local school choir from St Winifred's and Rick Wakeman on keyboards.

When John Lennon was assassinated in December 1980, his current single, "(Just Like) Starting Over" soared to No 1, but it was soon deposed by St Winifred's Choir, which, despite its late entry, became the UK's biggest selling single of 1980. It won Lorenz an Ivor Novello Award.

Thinking he had hit a commercial motherlode, Lorenz wrote "My Mum Is One In A Million" for Mother's Day, 1981, and it was a Top 30 single for the Children of Tansley School. And, in 2002, Lorenz got his wish to write for royalty. He wrote "Rejoice, Rejoice" for the Queen's Golden Jubilee. It was sung by a 1,000-strong choir conducted by Sir David Willcocks and performed as the Queen left Buckingham Palace for a service at St Paul's Cathedral.

Lorenz led an active career in record production. He often recorded Andrew Lloyd Webber's songs and two collections featuring Paul Jones and Jess Conrad sold well. Shirley Bassey was so happy with The Songs Of Andrew Lloyd Webber (1995) that she threw herself on top of his not inconsiderable frame and declared, "It's wonderful." Bassey recommended Lorenz to Claire Sweeney when she joined the West End cast of Chicago and he recorded a single of "All That Jazz" with her.

He worked with many noted artists including Cliff Richard, Ken Dodd, Anthony Newley and the Welsh comedian Max Boyce. In 1994, he produced the hit single "Passing Strangers" for Joe Longthorne and Liz Dawn.

In 1998 Lorenz worked on Voice Of An Angel, for a 12-year-old Charlotte Church, which became a Top 10 album. In 1991, he produced Country Classics for George Hamilton IV and his son, George Hamilton V, and in 2001 British Jazz Legends Together, a new collection that featured Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, John Dankworth, Humphrey Lyttelton and George Melly, although they worked in combinations rather than together. He had a chart album in 2004 with Symphonic Rock for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and his final album was the singalong 50 Disney Classics under the name of the Gordon Lorenz Orchestra and Singers.

More often than not, however, he was involved in projects of dubiousartistic merit. His album In A League Of Their Own (2002), featured football managers such as Ron Atkinson singing "Come Fly With Me" and "That's Life". A similar project was SoapstarSuperstar (2006). In 2008, he wrote and produced a single for the Playboy playmate, Claudia Ciesla, "Dancing In España"; the video was shot at his home in Llandudno. Lorenz was a large man with an equally large personality, eccentric- looking with his flowing white hair, and he was a popular local figure in Llandudno. However, he was fined four times for failing to clear up the mess caused by his dog.

His five albums in the series Your 100 Favourite Hymns were all big sellers and, in 2009 he made an album of Sunday School hymns to help people with dementia. In 2005, he made a charity album, The Best Gospel Album In The World... Ever, under the name of 100 Voices. It featured the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Choral Society and the Hywel Girls Choir.

He worked with many Welsh choirs and became the patron of Bridgend Male Choir and a vice-president of the Morriston Orpheus Choir. At the time of his death he had been working in the Abbey Road Studios with the Llandudno Town Band.





Gordon Lorenz, record producer and songwriter: born Liverpool 1943; married (divorced; three children): died Llandudno, 5 June 2011.

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