Born Jeremiah Patrick Lordan, 30 April 1934, Paddington, London, England
Songwriter, singer. Jerry Lordan was self-taught in music. His skills on piano and guitar assured his popularity during his National Service where he was frequently called upon to entertain. Returning to civilian life, he tried a number of occupations including stand-up comedy, singing, advertising and working as a cinema projectionist in Piccadilly. In 1958 he started writing his own songs and used his contacts in advertising to make demo discs of some of his songs. One demo found its way to 9 Albert Embankment, the headquarters of Decca Records in the UK. One of Jerry's songs was used to launch the career of a young singer called Mike Preston. The song in question was "A House, A Car And A Wedding Ring" (Decca F 11053). It did not sell particularly well, but it was covered by Dale Hawkins for the US market (Checker 906) and that version spent five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, with # 88 as its peak position. Jerry felt confident enough to give up his job in favour of full-time songwriting. He was soon rewarded with a big hit, when Anthony Newley took his song "I've Waited So Long" to # 3 in June 1959. (BTW, this was Newley's first record, Decca F 11127.) Around this time, Lordan made his debut on record as a singer, as one half of the duo Lee and Jerry Elvin ("So the Story Goes"/ "When You See Her", Fontana H 191). He then signed a three-year contract as a singer with Parlophone, where his records (gentle pop rather than rock 'n' roll) were produced by George Martin. Six singles were released between 1959 and 1962 and the first three of these, "I'll Stay Single" (# 26), "Who Could Be Bluer" (# 17) and "Sing Like An Angel" (# 36) charted in the UK, all in the first six months of 1960.
However, it is not as a singer that Lordan will be remembered. Among Jerry's compositions were a handful of songs without lyrics. One of these was an instrumental called "Apache", which was recorded by Bert Weedon, then a popular British guitarist. Lordan was less than pleased when he heard the Weedon version. All the drama of the melody had gone. Fortunately, Weedon's label, Top Rank, was not in any hurry to release the record. Jerry was then booked on a package tour with Cliff Richard and the Shadows. The Shadows had not yet scored any hits at that time and after three unsuccessful singles, two vocals and one instrumental, they could not decide what to try next. The Shadows recorded "Apache" on June 17, 1960, and the rest, as they say, is history. The song was a # 1 in the UK and went on to become a hit for the group throughout the world, with the exception of the USA where Danish guitarist Jorgen Ingmann took the song to # 2 with his cover version. It still meant royalties for Jerry and the number went on to become one of the most recorded instrumentals of all time. In 1995, just before his death, Jerry received a BMI award for one million American performances of his composition.
Jerry gave up singing and touring to concentrate on writing. His relationship with the Shadows continued when he wrote "Mustang" (a # 1 in the EP charts) and "Wonderful Land", another number one (for 8 weeks!, March - May 1962). Much to Bruce Welch's regret, Jerry then handed two of his finest compositions to ex-Shadows Jet Harris and Tony Meehan. "Diamonds" was another # 1 in early 1963, and the follow-up, "Scarlett O'Hara", made # 2 in the UK charts. But Jerry continued to supply the Shadows with material and "Atlantis" was another big hit (# 2) in mid-1963. The Shadows' first post-"Apache" vocal A-side, "The Next Time I See Mary Anne" (1965) was also written by Lordan. He also supplied hits for Cliff Richard ("A Girl Like You" in 1961 and "Good Times Better Times" in 1969), Shane Fenton ("I'm A Moody Guy" and "Walk Away", in 1961 and 1962 respectively) and Louise Cordet ("I'm Just A Baby", 1962). Other artists who recorded his songs include Petula Clark, Cleo Laine, Matt Monro, Cilla Black, Hank Marvin (two tracks for his first solo LP) and John Barry ("Starfire", 1961).
Things started to go less well as the 1960s gave way to the 1970s. The end of that decade saw his life at its lowest ebb and he reached a point where he no longer felt able to write anymore. Fortunately, Jerry did eventually start to write music again, but he never managed to rekindle his past success. Sadly, Jerry Lordan died in hospital of acute renal and liver failure in 1995 at the age of 61. He was one of the greatest composers of guitar instrumentals ever to emerge from the UK.
Acknowledgements: George Geddes, http://www.mcr26.freeserve.co.uk/shadows/Lordan/Default.htm Anonymous, http://www.45-rpm.org.uk/dirj/jerryl.htm
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