Eric Spear

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Eric Spear (18 April 1908 – 3 November 1966) was an English composer of film music most noted for writing the theme tune to the ITV soap opera Coronation Street. He was born in Croydon and died in Southampton. Spear participated in the 1953 film Streets of Shadow, which featured the German World War I spy Elsbeth Schragmüller. His theme for the 1954 movie Meet Mr. Callaghan was rendered as a best-selling record by Les Paul. For a short time in the 1960s, Spear lived in Guernsey.

Spear is best known for composing the original theme tune for the UK's longest-running television soap opera, Coronation Street, for which he was paid £6. The theme, originally entitled "Lancashire Blues" was commissioned by Peter Taylor, at De Wolfe Music, for a new television soap opera called "Florizel Street". The name of the serial was changed to "Coronation Street" because cast member William Roache (Ken Barlow) could not pronounce the title and because it was felt that the name bore a resemblance to Zoflora, a popular floral concentrated disinfectant.[1]

The cornet player Ronnie Hunt (playing trumpet on the recording) found the recording session frustrating, as Spear insisted on many takes before obtaining the sound that he wanted. For most of the programme's 50-year run since 1960, the theme tune has only been modified by converting it to stereo.[2] Since May 31, 2010, a new version has replaced the original arrangement coinciding with the programme's shift to HDTV with new opening titles. The new version has been criticised by many viewers as lacking the atmospheric quality of the original. The commercial break 'motif' to the 'End of Part 1' card was also replaced by a newer, less substantial version. The new version of the theme also differs by being less strident than the original with less of an orchestral sound, and having a shorter closing section which is often 'squashed' by the voice-over announcing the upcoming programme menu across ITV's channels.

Until ITV celebrated forty years of broadcasting (in 1995), the original recording of the theme had never been issued commercially. It was released as the b-side to a double A-sided single "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life" by Coronation Street Cast, and "Something Stupid" by Amanda Barrie and Johnny Briggs.[3] The single made the Top 40 in the UK, making number 35.[4] However, a faithful cover version by James Wright and his Orchestra was released as a single on the Embassy label in April 1962, which was also included on an EP of television themes. EMI's release of the original recording in 2005 includes the theme's solo trumpet introductory bar, which has never been heard on the serial.

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