Stan Foster

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Stan Foster is one of those musical names that tended to fall between the cracks. Associated for decades with several successful recording and broadcast acts including the Merry Macks, Cyril Stapleton,…
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Stan Foster is one of those musical names that tended to fall between the cracks. Associated for decades with several successful recording and broadcast acts including the Merry Macks, Cyril Stapleton, and Alma Cogan, he was of the same fraternity as Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, and Norrie Paramor, a superb and inventive music technician, although he seldom got the kind of public celebration that Riddle, in particular, received. never got the kind of press that Nelson Riddle received. Yet he was an influence, through his work, on popular music in England throughout the 1950's and early-middle 1960's.

Although classically trained as a pianist and composer--he reportedly wrote a symphony early in his career--Stan Foster made his name in popular music. His first major credit was as musical director for the Merry Macks, a smooth harmony and novelty group associated with Decca Records in America, who not only made their share of recordings but also appeared in the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby "Road" movies and played a prominent role (in tandem with a young Ella Fitzgerald) in Ride 'Em Cowboy, one of the best of Abbott & Costello's feature films. Following his association with the Merry Macks, Foster went to work in England for the British Broadcasting Corporation, as the leader, arranger and pianist of Cyril Stapleton's BBC Show Band.

By sheer chance, through a 1954 radio broadcast that paired the band with pop singer Alma Cogan, Foster met the up-and-coming British pop music star who, at the time, needed a replacement for her pianist, Joe Henderson, who had left her employ to go to work for Petula Clark. When she offered to engage him as her pianist in a series of theater performances, Foster jumped at the chance, so impressed was he with her range and ability. By 1955, he was her full-time music director, and he later became Cogan's songwriting collaborator (often writing as "Stephen Forest" to her "Al Western"). When Cogan died of cancer in October of 1966, Foster took on the task of finishing her final album, Alma, on which she was still working when she'd been stricken. Their songs together include "There's A Time and A Place," "It's You," which was produced by George Martin, and "Now That I've Found You," which was produced by Andrew Oldham.