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A tribute to Geoff Stephens 1934 – 2020

Academy member Mitch Murray CBE reflects on the life and work of the prolific songwriter.

In this personal tribute, Mitch Murray CBE reflects on the multi Ivor Novello Award winners extraordinary career.

Geoff Stephens, like many of us who started out in the early sixties, was a songwriter – not a ‘singer-songwriter’, but a professional and gifted specialist who crafted both words and music for the pop market, aimed at the Charts.

He would happily write lyrics for composers like Les Reed, or collaborate with lyricists like Peter Callander. At other times, Geoff would write both words and music himself.

Hey, those credits somehow look very familiar to me. The truth is, there were quite a few of us doing the same thing and chasing after the same groups and singers in those days. Geoff, however, was a bit special; quiet yet humorous, and very much a songwriter’s songwriter.

He gave the world the kind of songs we all wish we’d written, so one day, following the philosophy of ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’, I flew to Geneva with Peter Callander and spent a day writing with Geoff at his lakeside home. The result was ‘Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha’ – Cliff Richard’s 50th hit and ‘Lot 109’ – apparently recorded by Elvis Presley but never released.

Naturally, Geoff was a prominent member of SODS, which I founded back in 1971, and we all send our love and condolences to his wife, Pam and their children, Ruth, Paul and Jenny.

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