Stars call for hometown tribute to Wigan songwriter Barry Mason

A star-studded letter is asking Wigan Council to create a permanent memorial to the musician in his hometown.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 11:43 am
Barry Mason MBE

Dozens of prominent figures from the worlds of art and the media are calling on the town hall to recognise the man behind songs such as Delilah and The Last Waltz.

Barry, who was born on Spencer Road and brought up in Coppull, died last month aged 85 after a glittering career which saw him write an extraordinary 11,000 songs, pick up five Ivor Novello Awards and receive the MBE.

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Part of the letter reads: “Barry’s songwriting credits included no less than three UK Chart toppers, from the romance of The Last Waltz to the drama of Delilah via the ebullience of Love Grows.

“Barry’s songs have been recorded by the likes of Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart, Petula Clark, Perry Como, Charles Aznavour, Tony Christie, David Essex and Barbra Streisand and when not busy writing hits he regularly performed his famous one-man show in support of dozens of charities.

“We hope that the civic leaders of Wigan will recognise him as one of the foremost British songwriters of his generation and see fit to honour our friend’s memory in an appropriate manner.”

The letter has been signed by members of The Society Of Distinguished Songwriters and The Useless Information Society, two organisations to which Barry belonged.

Although he lived in London for many years Barry was always proud of his Wigan roots where his father Cecil had been a journalist.

Calling him “Wigan’s own lyrical genius”, the letter writers call for the local authority to create an appropriate permanent commemoration of Barry’s life and achievements can be created in his home town.

The list of signatories includes some of the high-profile musical luminaries who shared memories of him on the weekend news of his death broke, including musicals lyricist Tim Rice, Gary Kemp and Mike Batt.

The letter has also been signed by authors, broadcasters, speechwriters, artists, journalists, film-makers , illustrators and agents.

The letter expresses the hope that Barry could be given a star on the Wigan Walk of Fame in Believe Square.

However, the council said stars are only for living people but it would be keen to find other ways to remember Barry, such as a blue plaque.

These have already been used to commemorate distinguished musicians from the borough.

Lesley O’Halloran, director of customer and culture at Wigan Council said: “Our musical history is an important part of all of our cultural plans at Wigan Council.

“Our current focus is working with partners to nurture and provide platforms for our emerging talent in the hope that they can achieve a level of success achieved by Barry Mason.

“While it would not be possible to recognise Barry Mason’s amazing contribution to the industry through a star, there are other options available to celebrate his musical career.

“This includes nominating him for a blue plaque which would see a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate Mr Mason’s link to the borough’s cultural history. In previous years, blue plaques have been dedicated to people such as former Leigh resident Pete Shelley, who was one of the UK’s most influential and prolific songwriters."

Nominations for a blue plaque can be made at www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Museums-archives/Wigan-Archives/Nominate-for-a-Blue-Plaque.aspx

The full letter and list of signatories is:

Barry's songwriting credits included no less than three UK Chart toppers … from the romance of The Last Waltz to the drama of Delilah via the ebullience of Love Grows. Other huge hits co-written by Barry Mason include Here It Comes Again for the Fortunes, I Pretend for Des O’Connor, Everybody Knows for The Dave Clark Five, There Goes My First Love for The Drifters. I’m Coming Home for Tom Jones and Lonely Is A Man Without Love for Engelbert Humperdinck (one of 16 songs he crafted for that great singer). Barry's songs have been recorded by the likes of Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart, Petula Clark, Perry Como, Charles Aznavour, Tony Christie, David Essex and Barbra Streisand and when not busy writing hits he regularly performed his famous one-man show in support of dozens of charities, ranging from The Princess Alice Hospice in Esher to The Holocaust Survivors Centre in Hendon where he helped top raise over £500.000 in an evening.

We are aware that in Believe Square there is a Walk Of Fame featuring stars set into the pavement to recognise Wigan’s most illustrious sons and daughters and we submit that there can be no man more worthy of such an honour than Wigan's own lyrical genius Barry Mason who was so proud of his roots.

We, the undersigned, are members of The Society Of Distinguished Songwriters and The Useless Information Society, two organisations which are immensely proud to have counted Barry Mason MBE as one of our number and we hope that the civic leaders of Wigan will recognise him as one of the foremost British Songwriters of his generation and see fit to honour our friend’s memory in this unique and appropriate manner.

Yours

Gary Osborne (songwriter)

Tim Rice (songwriter)

Don Black OBE (songwriter, broadcaster)

Phil Pickett (songwriter)

Phil Thornalley (songwriter)

Gary Kemp (songwriter, guitarist, Spandau Ballet)

Brian Bennett OBE (composer, arranger, drummer, The Shadows)

Bruce Welch OBE (songwriter, producer, guitarist, The Shadows )

David Arnold (film composer)

Graham Gouldman (songwriter, musician,10cc)

Mitch Murray CBE (songwritrer, author, speechwriter)

Roger Greenaway OBE (songwriter, producer)

Mike Batt LVO (composer, arranger, producer)

Justin Hayward (singer, songwriter, guitarist, The Moody Blues)

Frank Musker (songwriter)

Dominic King (songwriter)

Richard Kerr (songwriter)

Steve Booker (songwriter)

Tony Hatch OBE (composer, arranger, producer)

Ricky Wilde (songwriter, producer

David Lowe (media composer)

Guy Fletcher OBE (songwriter, music publisher)

Tony Swain (songwriter producer)

Ricky Wilde (songwriter, producer)

David Lowe (media composer)

Phil Coulter (songwriter, producer)

Hamish Stuart (songwriter, musician, Average White Band)

Nicky Chinn (songwriter)

Mike D’Abo (singer, songwriter)

Marty Wilde MBE (singer, songwriter)

Donna Reed (daughter of Les Reed OBE)

John Blake (Publisher)

Richard Littlejohn (Journalist)

Stanley McMurtry MBE (aka cartoonist MAC)

Tim Willcox (broadcaster)

Christian Furr (artist)

John Williams (PR consultant)

John Jackson (journalist).

Peter Campbell(Illustrator)

Bill Hagerty(Journalist)

Ramsay Smith (chairman of journalists’ charity).

Adrian Sington (literary agent)

Leaf Kalfayan (journalist)

Adam Drew (songwriter/singer/actor)

Charles Garside (journalist)

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