b. 25 July 1939, Hornchurch, Essex, England. In 1945, at the age of six, King (piano) and his elder brothers Tony (double and electric bass) and Michael (guitar), played local shows in Hornchurch. Five years later they were appearing professionally as a vocal-instrumental trio, the King III, but when they supported Max Bygraves at the London Palladium in 1955, their billing had changed to the King Brothers. After recording some tracks for the minor label Conquest, they had several hits on Parlophone Records in the late 50s, including ‘A White Sports Coat’, ‘In The Middle Of An Island’, ‘Standing On The Corner’, ‘Mais Oui’ and ‘76 Trombones’. In the 60s, their appeal waned, and they split up. Denis carved out a new career for himself as a composer of commercial jingles, television themes, film music and stage musicals. The possessor of a light touch, his best known music for television was probably ‘Galloping Home’, the theme for the successful BBC production of The Adventures Of Black Beauty. Other themes included Lovejoy, Hannay and Taking The Floor. He also composed the film music for Sweeney!, Not Tonight Darling, The Spy’s Wife, The Chairman’s Wife and Holiday On The Buses. In 1977, King provided the music, and served as musical director, for Privates On Parade, Peter Nicholls’ hit vaudeville play about ‘camp and colonialism in 1948 Malaya’, which starred Denis Quilley, and eventually made it to New York, off-Broadway, in 1989, with Jim Dale in the leading role. During the 80s, King combined with Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall for Worzel Gummidge, a theatrical spin-off from the popular television series, starring Jon Pertwee. King also collaborated with Benny Green for Bashville, adapted from a play by George Bernard Shaw, and wrote the music for two other Hall projects, Wind In The Willows and Treasure Island. In 1988, he was involved in the West End revue, Re: Joyce, an anecdotal biography of the British comedienne-actress, Joyce Grenfell, which starred Maureen Lipman. He served as her accompanist, comic foil, narrator of much of the biographical material, and impersonated several of the individuals in Grenfell’s life, such as composer Richard Addinsell and Dame Myra Hess. King returned to the West End twice with Re: Joyce, and featured in the US production, plus the 1991 UK television version. Earlier that year, he had re-joined Benny Green for another attempt to set Bernard Shaw to music. For Valentine’s Day, adapted from Shaw’s You Never Can Tell, King’s music ‘reflected a move towards sweetness: slow waltz, quick waltz, here a touch of minuet’, all of which was enhanced by the virtuoso performance of Edward Petherbridge.
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