Anthony “Tony” Waddington is an English multi-award-winning songwriters, record producer, film producer, screenplay writer.
He became well known, as one of the UK’s most successful 70s and 80s songwriter and record producer, Waddington, co-founded the legendary State Records in 1975. He enjoyed enviable success with a series of UK chart hits in the 1970s for The Rubettes and received Ivor Novello Awards for ‘Songwriter of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Contribution to British Popular Music’.
During his career Tony has developed and broadened his skills. His work now ranges from orchestral arranging – the writing of scores for feature films, television and anime projects – screenplay writing and devising and contributing to projects for television programming.
If you are interested in working with Tony, you can contact him and his team here.
THE EARLY YEARS
Born in Liverpool, music was always present in his home with most of the family playing musical instruments.
When Tony reached the age of 5 he attended the local Sainte Theresa De Lisieux Church School. The school brought him into contact with fine choral singing for the first time, gave him lessons in the theory of music and introduced him to opera. He was creative and artistic and had an eye for detail, but only applied himself to the subjects that he was interested in such as Science and English Literature. He was fascinated by Science Fiction and would write short stories set in the future.
At home Tony began to learn the piano and was also tutored in classical guitar by Pierre Bethel, one of the premier music teachers in Liverpool at the time.
But at the age of 7 or 8 Tony had become interested in how songs were constructed. Tony commented, “I was quite young when I realised that the popular songs of the day that I liked had some kind of magical indefinable quality about them. So I began to analyse why one was more enjoyable than another.” It is not clear whether he established any precedent here, but by the age of 13 he wrote his very first song.
His classical guitar skills began to be acknowledged by the school and his private tutor was encouraging him to take up a career as a classical guitarist and to perform at venues such as the Royal Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. The news of his exceptional guitar skills was spreading locally and at the age of 12 Tony was asked to teach adults the classical guitar at a nearby Liverpool College.
LIVERPOOL JAZZ CLUBS
In 1956 Elvis Presley was making his mark with rock and roll which heralded a new kind of popular music from America.
In a few years the pull of this music was to become all-consuming for Tony, ending any ambition in the classical field of guitar. At the time both modern and traditional jazz were popular and at 15 Tony was playing guitar in Liverpool’s modern jazz clubs. His guitar skills were noticed by the City’s Club elite and he was later recruited by one of the top rhythm and blues bands of the time.
Liverpool’s Port was a major link with America and consequently to its music trends. By the early 1960s Liverpool had begun to erupt with what was to become known as the Merseybeat. Rhythm and blues and Beat music were replacing skiffle and jazz.
A group called The Quarrymen were starting to make a name for themselves at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and were signed by Brian Epstein in 1960 as The Beatles, with Pete Best as their drummer.
PETE BEST COMBO
In 1963 Tony was playing in a band called the All Stars with Lee Curtis as the lead-singer. When Pete Best was told to leave the Beatles he joined Tony and became the drummer in the All Stars. They later became the Pete Best Combo with Tony also taking over the role of lead singer, replacing Lee Curtis. They then signed with Decca Records, a major record company at the time.
Prior to signing to Decca, Tony recorded with the famous producer Joe Meek (Decca) from whom Tony gleaned a great deal of skill. Robert George “Joe” Meek was an outstanding English record producer and songwriter remembered for the Tornados’ ‘Telstar’ hit which became the first record by a British group to reach No1 in the US Hot 100.
“I learned so much about record production from Joe Meek (Decca)”
Wayne and Tony with their Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year and Outstanding Contribution to British Popular Music
THE BIRTH OF A GOLDEN PARTNERSHIP
“I am a singer and musician and it was a natural progression for me to start writing songs. So we formed a producing partnership”
A highly successful alliance which was to last for over 30 years.
Having toured Germany which included appearing at the Star Club in Hamburg, the band then signed a record contract with an American label (Cameo Parkway Records), moved to the US and started touring as the Pete Best Combo.
While living in New York, Tony spent a lot of time recording in a studio on 42nd Street. Working in the studios on a daily basis with top American sound engineers and musicians was an invaluable experience for both Tony.
In 1966 the Pete Best Combo returned to England and the band as it was then broke up. Tony became a Record Producer with Decca Records and Tony was also contracted as staff writer for Palace Burlington Music (Decca).
Tony wrote several hit songs for the Spanish group Los Iberos, ‘Hiding behind my Smile’, ‘Why Can’t We be Friends’, ‘Summertime Girl’ and ‘Back in Time’. The group were very popular in Spain from the 1960s through to the early 70s and actually cut their first record in the UK at Decca.
Whilst as Record Producer at Decca, Tony was responsible for remixing the popular ‘World of…’ series of LPs which included artists such as The Zombies and Them (headed by Van Morrison).
Meanwhile, the Tony continued to write songs in partnership and an early success in 1968 was ‘Nothing but a Heartache’ for the R&B group The Flirtations which immediately entered the American Charts. This was quickly followed by ‘Can’t Stop Loving You’ which was also a hit in the US Charts for Tom Jones.
Then In 1972 Tony collaborated with Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (later to become Abba) on songs for Lena Andersson, one of which ‘Better to have Loved’ won the Tokyo song-festival and was No.1 in Sweden.
Tony had written the song ‘Sugar Baby Love’ submitting it originally for the Eurovision Song Contest, but it was turned down. The song was offered to a well-known group at the time called Sha Waddy Waddy, who also turned it down. As a result Tony formed a band from the session musicians who made the demo disc on the proviso that they formed a group.
They agreed and The Rubettes were launched. Sugar Baby Love became a No.1 hit in 1974 in the UK (knocking the Eurovision song from No1), then No 1 in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Australia! And No 2 in South Africa and No 37 in the US charts.
Tony went on to write a string of hits for The Rubettes, such as ‘Tonight’, ‘Juke Box Jive’ and ‘I Can Do It’. The success led to Tony co founding the record label State Records in 1975.
State Records soon became a leading record producing company. Within a short space of time they opened Odyssey Studios at Marble Arch which became the top recording studio of its day recording Cliff Richard, Roxy Music, The Who, Kate Bush and many other popular artists.
Between 1974 and 1977 the song writing team wrote 9 top 50 UK hits and produced countless more which you can listen to below.
TV & FILM
During the 1980s Tony decided to broaden his music skills and studied orchestral arranging with the leading British musicologist Dr Henry Zajaczkowski. A specialist on Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky and contributor to the Music Review, Musical Times and Tchaikowsky-Gesellschaft and a music lecturer on BBC Radio and at the Lincoln Center in New York.
Tony went on to compose and arrange orchestral music using players from the Hallé Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and many other famous orchestras and has worked for the BBC, Granada Television and other international TV channels.
Tony also studied conducting techniques with the classically trained conductor David White BA FRAM, Musical Director & Musical Supervisor of Les Miserables, London and foreign productions all over the world as well as countless other successful musicals.
He is a currently a Fellow of he Royal Academy of Music teaching Musical Theatre.
Over the years Tony has written countless musical scores for many television and film projects including the music for the animated series of The Adventures of the Garden Fairies for BBC TV, music for the Grandpa Chatterji Channel 4 programme, he co-wrote the theme music for a programme on Carrikfergus Castle, Northern Ireland and composed themes for several UK television programmes as well as a children’s programme on Network 9 at Australian TV. Tony’s music has been used in feature films like: Muriel’s Wedding, Wild About Harry, Resurrection Man and Breakfast on Pluto.
EXEC PRODUCER ON MEDIA PROJECTS
Always innovative, one of Tony’s greatest skills is his intuitive perception of changes in public taste in entertainment media. Always at the cutting edge of new ideas and creative developments there are always 3 or 4 projects in the pipeline.
Tony Waddington has made an outstanding contribution to the British music industry during his career and continues his creative work for film and television.
Songwriter of the Year
Ivor Novello Award
to British Popular Music
Ivor Novello Award
Songwriter of the Year
of the Year
Music Week Award
Music Week Award
Tokyo Song Festival
Received over twelve Gold Disc awards for music sales