Peter Knight (composer)
Peter Knight (23 June 1917 – 30 July 1985) was an English musical arranger, conductor and composer.
Knight was born in Exmouth, Devon, England. He worked with Independent Television light entertainment stars from 'Spot The Tune' (1956) with Jackie Rae and Marion Ryan to the comedy series 'Home to Roost' (1985). He also worked on feature films from 'Curse of the Crimson Altar' (1968, Boris Karloff) to 'Hambone and Hille' (1984, Lilian Gish). In between, the highlights of his career were perhaps:
- Conductor and orchestrator for the film Ghost Story (1981)
- Orchestrator of the music for the film The Dark Crystal (1982)
- Orchestra director for many episodes of The Morecambe and Wise show (1969–77)
- Conductor for The Last Goon Show of All 1972
- Conductor for many songs for Scott Walker's 1960's period.
- Orchestrator of the music for the Roman Polanski film Tess (1979)
- Orchestrator and conductor of the music for the Jean-Jacques Annaud film Quest for Fire (1981)
His entree to acceptance by his peers was his 5 piece vocal group: a soprano [Pat Clark of the Royal College of Music], 2 altos (one his wife Babs, the other his sister-in-law Daph), a tenor [Charles Young "Pinky" of "Pinky & Perky"] and baritone Charles Granville all of whose singular quality was the ability to pick up the "dots" and read them, just like any other session musician!
After producing countless vocal scores, Peter Knight began to be commissioned to produce full orchestrations for all kinds of artists and soon had his own orchestra 'The Peter Knight Orchestra '.
Following his death, Yorkshire television launched the annual Peter Knight award to honour excellence in musical arranging.
His involvement with pop music was varied. Peter Knight became famous for his rich lush orchestration, best illustrated by the slightly spaced-out sections of The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed. Later on he continued his work with members of The Moody Blues, Justin Hayward and John Lodge, on 3 songs on the record "Blue Jays" released in 1975.
Richard Carpenter invited him to fly to Los Angeles in 1977 in order to generate a similar sound for The Carpenters "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" (1977). There is some kind of private joke here, since the album credits him with conducting the humorously-named "Overbudget Philharmonic", which was actually the L.A. Philharmonic. He gave a similar treatment to The Carpenters version of "Don't Cry For Me Argentina".
Peter Knight also collaborated with The Carpenters on their two Christmas Special Television Shows in 1977 and 1978, for which he was the principal arranger. On the special edition CD of the music from these two shows, brilliantly conceived and produced by Richard Carpenter, while both Richard and Billy May contributed several arrangements, Peter arranged three of the extended medleys and ten of the single charts. The sound is lush and glorious.
He is also famous for his arrangements for the King's Singers, particularly the Airwave song "You are the New Day", now a best-selling title in the USA. He also arranged several works intended for amateur choirs.
He spotted that his sound might have resonance with a hippy audience, and recorded a single 'Within You, Without You' , the George Harrison song from the 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' album, released under the name 'Peter Knight and His Orchestra' . This was part of a project to release the entire album in an orchestral version. It was released in 1967 on the Mercury label. His son, also called Peter Knight, co-produced the original cast recording of 'Hair' (1968).
Incidental music for
- Theme tune for 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' (1961)
- 'The Flight of the Heron' (drama series) (1968)
- 'Duty Free' (TV comedy series 1984-86)
- 'Home to Roost' (TV comedy series 1986-89)