b. 1 October 1934, London, England. Writing songs and sketches for the Four Arts Society, his own amateur theatrical group, Stephens became steadily more involved in music despite several years spent as a teacher, a printer and working in air traffic control. In 1964 he co-wrote ‘Tell Me When’ with Les Reed, which was a hit for the Applejacks, and he also managed, and produced early hits for, Donovan. In the mid-60s, Stephens formed the New Vaudeville Band, enjoying a surprise hit in the USA with ‘Winchester Cathedral’, a solo composition, which won several awards and was recorded also by Frank Sinatra.
Through the 60s and beyond Stephens composed numerous hits, usually in collaboration with various others, including Tony Macaulay, John Carter and Reed. Among the successes were ‘The Crying Game’ (another solo composition that was recorded by Dave Berry), ‘It’s Gonna Be A Cold Cold Christmas’ (Dana), ‘Like Sister And Brother’ (the Drifters), ‘It’s Like We Never Said Goodbye’ (Crystal Gayle), ‘There's A Kind Of Hush’ (Herman’s Hermits, and the Carpenters), ‘Sorry Suzanne’ (the Hollies), ‘Knock, Knock Who’s There’ (which came second in the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest when sung by Mary Hopkin), ‘Boy’ (Lulu), ‘You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me’ (the New Seekers), ‘Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha’ (Cliff Richard), ‘Daughter Of Darkness’ (Tom Jones), ‘Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James’ (Manfred Mann), ‘Silver Lady’ (a number 1 hit for David Soul), and ‘Lights Of Cincinnati’ (Scott Walker).
Turning to the theatre, Stephens collaborated with Don Black on the score for Dear Anyone (1983), and, with Reed, The Magic Castle (1984). Among awards Stephens has won are Ivor Novello Bronze Statuettes, a Grammy, for ‘Winchester Cathedral’, a BASCA Gold Badge in 1995, the Jimmy Kennedy-Ivor Novello Award for services to British Songwriting in 2000, an ASCAP Award of Merit and a BMI Citation of Merit, following two million broadcasts of ‘Smile A Little Smile For Me’. In a different mode, Stephens also composed ‘To All My Loved Ones’, for performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall during the annual Festival of Remembrance.