Edward Lisbona

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This artist had enough going on in his career for two people, which was in a sense how he wound up organizing things. A certain amount of chaos has resulted from Edward Lisbona's efforts to keep his work…
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Artist Biography by

This artist had enough going on in his career for two people, which was in a sense how he wound up organizing things. A certain amount of chaos has resulted from Edward Lisbona's efforts to keep his work as a pianist and orchestra leader seperate from his songwriting catalog, mostly because once he assumed the identity of Edward "Piano" Miller he fell into the radar range of many other performers with the same name. In the early '30s Lisbona became active on the London music scene, particularly in dance bands. He was inspired by some of the newest jazz coming out of the United States and had actually seen the Paul Whiteman outfit hold forth live in his hometown of Manchester back in 1926. A band led by Jerry Hoey was one of Lisbona's earliest performing and recording opportunities.

For what reason he chose to perform under the Miller is not known; neither is there any sort of consistency involved. He also made piano recordings under the name of Lisbona including outings with a rhythm section that included drummer Cozy Cole. Some kind of conclusion might be drawn from the fact that the pile of honky tonk piano sides recorded under the Miller name during the '50s and early '60s hi-fi fad towers over any and all piano performances for which he is credited as Lisbona. The real discographical action--if two such dissimilar connotations of excitement can be used side by side--with the Lisbona name is a catalog of songs created with many different co-writers, one of which is the famed Hal David.

Lisbona's songwriting follows a surprisingly consistent course over several decades despite changes in partners. His songs were much less wed to styles or genres than the idea of a song being entertaining in of it itself because of content. He and his collaborators seemed to be looking for the largest possible audience, dealing in grand concepts of weeping and/or rib-tickling. One of Lisbona's first songwriting pals was Tommie Connor in the '30s, when both men were playing in the Ambrose orchestra. They opened the calender on a song entitled "It's My Mother's Birthday Today", with which the vocalist Arthur Tracy had a date with a best-seller. Lisbona was still part of songwriting teams relevant to the artists of the '50s and '60s. "Bob's Your Uncle" and "Symphony of Spring" were part of the easy listening which hogged the charts prior to rock and roll taking over. Mitch Miller did a version of the former novelty song.

"Gently" was recorded by Elvis Presley, the title serving as instructions on how to wake the King for his wee hour cheeseburgers. "Prayer" was written with Alfred Bryan and recorded by many smooth singers such as Eddy Arnold, its first line the ultimate form of wish fulfillment on the part of a career songwriter: "Prayer is a song we all can sing." "Girls We Never Did Wed" is one of the titles crafted by Lisbona and David, later a partner of Burt Bacharach--misogynist rappers may want to revisit the song minus the final word in the title, although the resulting change of meaning would involve admitting some kind of machismo failure on their part. "Mickey's Sons and Daughters" gave Lisbona a presence in the psychedelic era when the song was satirized effectively by the bizarre Bonzo Dog Band. No discussion of this songwriter is complete without a mention of "Angelina", which does what all songs should be required to do: mention antipasto in the lyrics.