GEOFFREY GOEDEN - a "go'den" life

G. Goeden

Pianist and arranger Geoffrey Goeden has spent the last 40 years making "the music that makes people happy." Chances are you know his work even if you don't know his name. Goeden's incomparable melodic gift has created countless jingles, TV themes, and background music tunes, while his conducting has been featured on numerous LP's, as well as at live music events in many parts of the world. Geoffrey Goeden may not rule the pop charts, but in his own words, he "hasn't done too shabby for a kid from Lindsington."

Geoffrey Goeden was born in 1925 into a very musical household-his mother was a singer in the church choir, and his father was a hand-copyist for a sheet music corporation. Geoffrey showed an interest in music at an early age, beginning piano at age 8 and studying clarinet and soprano saxophone in his early teens. After his exams, Geoffrey enlisted in the Royal Air Force, where he attained the rank of technical staff leader and worked as a composer for the Propaganda Office, creating memorable anti-German jingles such as "Reich is Wrong," "Give 'Em Hell, Jonny," and "The Furor," which was later performed by the Royal Festival Orchestra as part of a program of wartime songs. After the Allied victory, Geoffrey left the service to pursue a career in music production.

Gaining employment at RLI Studios, Geoffrey began working as a staff composer with radio advertisement jingles and themes for serials like "The Nottinghams" and "Get What You Pay For." His big break came when the arranger for Lester Price's big band took ill immediately before an important recording session, and Geoffrey was called in to sub. Price liked Goeden's arrangements so much, he fired his previous arranger (who, as it turned out, had died anyway) and gave Geoffrey a permanent job. Unfortunately, Price himself was only to live six more days before succumbing to the same viral infection that killed his arranger, so Geoffrey Goeden inherited Lester Price's Dance Orchestra. The band performed as the Lester Price Memorial Orchestra for seven months before being inadvertently renamed by devious BBC announcer Dex Harris, who introduced them as "Geoffrey Goeden and his Go'den Orchestra." The name stuck.

Soon the Go'den Orchestra was in demand. Throughout the 50's and early 60's, Geoffrey and company toured Europe and Canada, in addition to making recordings (some under different names, such as the rare Hi-Fi Halloween, credited to the "Monster Band"). Geoffrey also continued composing, writing several television themes ("Who's Your Uncle?" and "It's a Wig" among them) and the famous "Halloran Meats" jingle ("Halloran/Halloran/Halloran Meats"). Many Go'den Orchestra recordings were licensed by Unlimited Music West and used as background music for shopping centers and pharmacies. Goeden's brilliance was best demonstrated by his ability to invest a well-known melody with a totally fresh feeling---such as his regional hit version of "I Get Along Without You Very Well," done in circus tempo but in waltz time. His ingenuity with originals is best appreciated by listening to his BBC radio game theme "High Stakes," one of the few popular instrumentals of the 50's to utilize the 9/4 time signature.

As the times began to change toward the end of the 60's, the Go'den Orchestra was in less demand, and Geoffrey formally disbanded it in 1970, continuing to work as a recording engineer in London's Debasement Studios before going into semi-retirement in 1978. The touring Go'den Orchestra was reunited on two occasions: for a 1975 tour of Switzerland and in 1986 for a charity ball thrown by author Henry Poole. Geoffrey emerged occasionally to provide music to an educational film or to lecture at university music programs, but it was not until 1997 that the 72-year-old Goeden released a new album of his own arrangements, his first such album since 1966's Simon & Garfunkel & Goeden. Goeffrey Goeden & His Go'den Orchestra Play the Hits of LMP was a collaborative effort with Geoffrey's son, and marked his first foray into electronic instrumentation aside from two cuts on the 1968 album Go'den Goes Go-Go Ga-Ga. Released in conjunction with Polyholiday Records, the album cemented Geoffrey Goeden's reputation with a new generation of instrumental-music fans and placed him among the ranks of Henry Mancini, Juan Esquivel, and Enoch Light. Now fully out of retirement and working on a second collection of LMP songs, Goeden looks back on his career and says he feels blessed.

"Given the choice of serving self, country, or history, I feel I've had the chance to do them all. I'm very fortunate that my music was able to carry me through."

Recommended recordings:

The Lester Price Memorial Orchestra Plays "Price-less" Arrangements (RLI 351) (1951)
Geoffrey Goeden's Go'den Orchestra Play Go'den Hits of Yesteryear (RLI 459) (1955)
Geoffrey Goeden's Themes for Television and Radio (Audio Pleasure 82) (1959)
Simon & Garfunkel & Goeden (Delta East 878) (1966)
Goeden Goes Go-Go Ga-Ga (Delta East 891) (1968)
The Royal Festival Orchestra Salutes Britain's Heroes: a 30th Anniversary Tribute to Our Wartime Vetarans---works by Smith, Richards, Goeden, Parks, and Hetters (Lyric Tone 566 213-2) (1975)
Geoffrey Goeden and His Go'den Orchestra Play the Hits of LMP (Polyholiday 049) (1997)  

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