Noel Gay

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Noel Gay
Noel Reginald Moxon Armitage Gay.jpg
Reginald Moxon Armitage

(1898-07-15)15 July 1898
Wakefield, Yorkshire, England
Died4 March 1954(1954-03-04) (aged 55)
Other namesStanley Hill
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge
  • Songwriter
  • composer
StyleMusical theatre
Children Richard Armitage
Angela Armitage

Noel Gay (15 July 1898 – 4 March 1954) [1] was born Reginald Moxon Armitage. He also used the name Stanley Hill professionally. [2] He was a successful British composer of popular music of the 1930s and 1940s whose output comprised 45 songs as well as the music for 28 films and 26 London shows. Sheridan Morley has commented that he was "the closest Britain ever came to a local Irving Berlin". [3] He is best known for the musical, Me and My Girl .


Early life

Armitage was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England. [1] He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School before obtaining a scholarship at the age of 15 to attend the Royal College of Music in London, after which he attended university. [4] A precocious talent, he had deputised for the choirmaster of Wakefield Cathedral from the age of eight, [4] becoming honorary deputy organist at twelve. He had become music director and organist at St. Anne's Church in London's Soho district by the age of eighteen, [4] prior a brief period of military service during the First World War and then studied at Christ's College, Cambridge. [2] [3]


Whilst at Cambridge, Armitage's interest in religious music and composition declined as that in musical comedy grew. [4] He began writing popular songs, using the stage name Noel Gay. According to Morley the name was derived "from a sign he read on a London bus in 1924: 'NOEL Coward and Maisie GAY in a new revue'." His pseudonym of Stanley Hill was used from time to time for his more sentimental work. [2] After contributing to revues such as Stop Press he was commissioned to write the entire score and lyrics for André Charlot's 1926 revue. [3] His next show was Clowns in Clover, which starred Cicely Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert, a husband-and-wife team of the time. [4]

Gay's career blossomed due to his talent for writing catchy, popular melodies in styles ranging from music hall to operetta. [4]

His most famous show, for which he contributed the music but not the lyrics, was Me and My Girl. [4] This originally opened in 1937 at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London and, after a shaky start, gained popularity when the BBC broadcast it live on radio on 13 January 1938. It starred Lupino Lane as Bill Snibson and it ran for 1,646 performances despite being bombed out of two theatres. The "showstopper" in that work was "The Lambeth Walk" which has the distinction of being the only popular song to be the subject of a leader in The Times . In October 1938 one of its leaders read "While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances – to 'The Lambeth Walk'." [5] The show was revived in 1952 and again in 1984, when the book was revised by Stephen Fry and came to include some of Gay's own songs. [3] The latter production ran for eight years, initially at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester and then at the Adelphi Theatre in London, before going on tour throughout Britain and transferring to Broadway.

Gay went on to write songs for revues by The Crazy Gang, and for star artists like Gracie Fields, Flanagan and Allen and George Formby, as well as penning popular World War II songs such as "Run Rabbit Run" (with lyrics by Ralph Butler). [4] He wrote two songs for the 1938 comedy film Save a Little Sunshine . [4]

After the war, his musical output diminished and he concentrated more on production, in part because of increasing deafness and also because the fashion for cheerful Cockney-themed songs was on the wane. [3]

He had created Noel Gay Music in 1938 as a business vehicle. [3] It now forms a part of the Noel Gay Organisation which includes divisions for television and theatre and is a significant British showbusiness agency, under the day-to-day control of his family. [6]

His son, Richard Armitage, set up the Noel Gay Artists agency and became an influential talent agent. [7]


Gay contributed to numerous shows, almost all of them musical comedies or revues. Grove Music Online lists the following, except where the genre is stated as uncertain or as pantomime:

1926The Charlot Show of 1926R
1927Clowns in CloverR
1931Hold My HandC
Folly To Be WiseRincluded The King's Horses
1932She Couldn't Say NoUncertain genre
1933That's A Pretty ThingCRev. as La-Di-Da-Di-Da, 1943
1935 Jack O'Diamonds CRev. as Susie, 1942
Love LaughsC
Stop PressR
1936O-Kay for SoundBook: Bob Weston & Bert Lee; music: Noel Gay, Harris Weston, Michael Carr & Jimmy Kennedy. [8] Included The Fleet's in Port Again
1937 Me and My Girl CFilmed as The Lambeth Walk, 1939
1938Wild OatsC
1939The Little Dog LaughedLondon Palladium Revue
1940Lights UpRincluded Let The People Sing, Only A Glass of Champagne, You've Done Something to My Heart, The Girl Who Loves a Soldier
Present ArmsC
1943 The Love Racket C
1944Meet Me VictoriaC
Ring TimeC
1946Sweetheart MineC
1948 Bob's Your Uncle C
1949AladdinScore for pantomime) [3]


Among Noel Gay's songs were the following, sourced from US Library of Congress copyright catalogues and the catalogue of the National Library of Australia as indicated.

YearSongFromLyricsMusicLyrics & MusicSource
1929Tondeleyo White Cargo (film – this was the first song to be used in a British talkie [3] )Stanley Hill (Noel Gay)Noel GayNLA [9]
1931Girl of a Million DreamsJos. Geo. GilbertNoel GayLCC 1931 [10]
Mrs Elizabeth BrownJos. Geo. GilbertNoel GayLCC 1931
The King's Horses and The King's MenNoel Gay & Harry Graham LCC 1931
Laughing at the RainJos. Geo. GilbertNoel GayLCC 1931
Goddess of the MoonThe Chinese BungalowNoel GayLCC 1931
I Want The World To Know That I Belong To YouOn with the ShowJos. Geo. GilbertNoel GayLCC 1931
The Pied Piper of HamelinHold My Hand Desmond Carter & Noel GayNoel GayLCC 1932; [11] NLA
Hold My HandHold My HandHarry Graham Maurice Elwin & Noel GayLCC 1932
Dearest, It's YouJos. Geo. Gilbert / Benny Davis Noel GayLCC 1932
Nobody's Baby Is Somebody's Baby Now Gus Kahn Noel GayLCC 1932
Ali Baba's CamelNoel GayNLA
1932Land of Love and Laughter Archie Gottler Noel GayLCC 1932
Turn on the MusicNoel Gay & Desmond CarterNoel GayLCC 1932
Thou Shalt NotArchie GottlerNoel GayLCC 1932
All for the Love of A LadyArchie Gottler / J P LongNoel GayLCC 1932
The Sun Has Got His Hat On Ralph Butler & Noel GayLCC 1932
Round The Marble ArchRalph Butler & Noel GayLCC 1932
Lovely Little SilhouetteArchie GottlerNoel GayLCC 1932
I Don't Want To Go To Bed Stanley Lupino Noel GayNLA
I've Found The Right Girl / Oh What A GirlStanley Lupino & Noel GayNLA
1933La-di-da-di-daThat's A Pretty ThingDesmond CarterNoel GayLCC 1934 [12]
I'm Hitching My Wagon To YouThat's A Pretty ThingDesmond CarterNoel GayLCC 1934
I Took My Harp to a PartyDesmond CarterNoel GayLCC 1934
Why Can't We You Made Me Love You (film) Clifford Grey Noel GayLCC 1934
The Song You Gave To MeClifford Grey & Noel GayNoel GayNLA
Letting in the SunshineNoel GayNLA
One Little Kiss From YouClifford GreyNoel GayNLA
There's Something About A Soldier Soldiers of the King (film) Noel GayNLA
The Moment I Saw You Soldiers of the King (film) Clifford GreyNoel GayNLA
1934Fit For AnythingDesmond CarterNoel GayLCC 1934
HappyHappy (film)Stanley Lupino & Noel GayLCC 1934
Who's Been Polishing The Sun?The Camels Are Coming (film)Noel GayNLA
I'll Pray For YouRoy King & Stanley Hill (Noel Gay)Jos. Geo. Gilbert & Noel GayNLA
1935TimeLove Laughs!Desmond CarterNoel GayNLA
All for a Shilling A DayWhere's My Man?Clifford Grey & Noel GayNoel GayNLA
1936The Fleet's in Port AgainO-Kay For Sound (and as film, 1937)Noel GayNLA
Let's Have A Tiddly at the Milk BarNoel GayNLA
1937Red, White and BlueNoel GayNLA
The Lambeth Walk Douglas Furber Noel GayNLA
Me and My Girl Douglas FurberNoel GayNLA
Leaning on a Lamp-post Noel GayNLA
Won't You Buy My Pretty FlowersJack Meskill & Noel GayNoel GayNLA
1938Love Makes The World Go RoundThese Foolish ThingsStanley Hill (Noel Gay)NLA
1939Did You Go Down Lambeth Way?Noel GayNLA
You've Done Something to My HeartLights Up Frank Eyton & Ian GrantNoel GayNLA
Run, Rabbit, Run The Little Dog LaughedRalph Butler & Noel GayNoel GayNLA
The Girl Who Loves A SoldierRalph Butler & Noel GayNoel GayNLA
Let The People SingFrank Eyton & Ian GrantNoel GayNLA
Birthday of the Little PrincessNoel GayNLA
The Moon Remembered But You ForgotFrank Eyton & Noel GayNLA
Fare Thee WellJimmy Campbell, Frank Eyton & Noel GayNLA
1940All Over The PlaceSailors Three (film)Frank Eyton & Noel GayNoel GayNLA
Oh What A Wonderful Night We've Had TonightRalph Butler & Noel GayNoel GayNLA
Oh! Buddy, I'm in LoveRalph Butler & Noel GayNoel GayNLA
Whose Little What's-it Are You?Frank Eyton & Noel GayNLA
Moonlight AvenueJos. Geo. Gilbert, Jimmy Campbell & Noel GayNLA
1941Come Happy DayBill Hutter & Noel GayNLA
Mr Brown of London Town Reginald Arkell & Noel GayNLA
Hey! Little HenRalph Butler & Noel GayNLA
She's in Love with a Soldier David Heneker & Noel GayNLA
I'd Never Fall in Love AgainRalph Butler & Noel GayNLA
Oh! How He Misses His Missus (Since He Became A Military Man)Ralph Butler & Noel GayNLA
He Wants To Be A PilotMuriel Watson, Jack Denby & Noel GayNLA
Who Are You A-Shovin' Of?Raymond Moore & Noel GayNLA
1942The First WaltzRalph Butler & Noel GayNLA
1943Happy Days, Happy Months, Happy YearsFrank Eyton & Noel GayNLA
Sitting on a CloudRalph Butler & Noel GayNLA
I'm Mad at MyselfJoe Lubin & Noel GayNLA
Why Say GoodbyeTommy Angel, Joyce Cochrane & Noel GayNLA
1944 We Don't Know Where We're Going Ralph Butler & Noel GayNLA
1945The Too-rie on His BonnetGeorge BrownNoel GayNLA
1946When Alice Blue Gown Met Little Boy BlueArnold, Ralph Butler & SimpsonNoel GayNLA
1949I'll Always Love YouFrank Eyton & Noel GayNoel GayNLA
1950My Thanks To You Norman Newell Noel GayNLA

Some of his songs featured in the film Overlord


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  1. 1 2 "Noel Gay (1898-1954)". Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  2. 1 2 3 Snelson, John. Gay, Noel (Armitage, Reginald Moxon) – Grove Music (Online ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press . Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Morley, Sheridan (May 2005) [2004]. Gay, Noel (1898–1954) – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 949/950. ISBN   0-85112-939-0.
  5. "Peace and 'The Lambeth Walk'", The Times, 18 October 1938, p. 15
  6. "Noel Gay Organisation – About Us". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  7. "Not Again". Not the Nine O'Clock News. 3 August 2013. BBC Television . Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  8. "Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [C] Group 3. Dramatic Composition and Motion Pictures. New Series". Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [C] Group 3. Dramatic Composition and Motion Pictures. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 9 (1): 292. 1936. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  9. "Catalogue". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  10. "Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions". Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3. New. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 26 (1). 1931. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  11. "Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions". Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3. New. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 27 (1–12). 1932. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  12. "Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions". Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3. New. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 29 (1–12). 1934. Retrieved 21 January 2011.