Johnny Harris (musician)

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Johnny Harris
Johnny Harris Photo (1).jpg
Johnny Harris, 2001
Background information
Birth name John Stanley Livingstone Harris
Born (1932-11-07) 7 November 1932 (age 84)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Genres Pop, rock, jazz, film music
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, producer, conductor
Instruments Trumpet, piano
Years active 1964–present
Labels Pye, Decca, United Artists, Warner Bros.
Associated acts Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Petula Clark, Lulu, Richard Harris, Shirley Bassey, Paul Anka, Lynda Carter

Johnny Harris (born John Stanley Livingstone Harris in 1932) is a Scottish-born composer (of Welsh parentage), producer, arranger, conductor, and musical director. He has lived in the U.S. since 1972.

The British years (1932–1972)[edit]

Johnny Harris was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music in London. Originally a trumpet player with the Norman Burns band & big bands led by Vic Lewis, Ken Mackintosh, Cyril Stapleton and then a member of the short-lived beat group The Shubdubs with drummer Jimmie Nicol and organist Roger Coulam. In 1964, he recorded a Beatles cover version album and EP called Beatlemania with Jimmie Nicol which resulted in Nicol replacing the ill Ringo Starr on a worldwide Beatles tour. He joined Pye Records in 1965 as an arranger and conductor for producer Tony Hatch and his then-wife Jackie Trent. Harris had an un-credited roll as conductor on the Nancy Sinatra In London album and worked with many other artists in the sixties as a staff member at Pye. He worked freelance for many other record labels in Great Britain and Europe and was a regular arranger, conductor, and producer for Petula Clark until she left Pye in 1971.

The first official colour programme on BBC 1 was a concert by Petula Clark with the Johnny Harris Orchestra from the Royal Albert Hall, London, broadcast at midnight on 14/15 November 1969. He arranged, conducted and produced the majority of tracks on the Shirley Bassey albums Something, Something Else, I Capricorn, And I Love You So, Never Never Never and All by Myself and many tracks on Tom Jones albums. Johnny was the musical director for the BBC light entertainment show Happening For Lulu in 1968-69 with the Scottish singer Lulu and conducted her Eurovision Song Contest winner Boom Bang-A-Bang in Madrid, 1969 which led to him gaining a solo record deal with Warner Bros. UK. He was the musical director for the BBC/ZDF co-production Pop Go The Sixties broadcast on BBC 1 on 31 December 1969 and had his own BBC Show Of The Week called Up Tight featuring Georgie Fame and Lulu.

His ground-breaking album Movements was recorded with the best London session musicians in the spring of 1970, was performed live at the Royal Albert Hall and was pressed by Warner's three times in the UK (on orange, green and Burbank labels) and finally reissued on CD by Warner Bros. UK in 2002 with remastered sound, bonus tracks and an in-depth interview with Johnny talking about the album and his long career. Movements was again released in 2015 as a limited edition SHMCD by Warner Bros. Japan for the Japanese only market (this is the first time Movements has been issued in Japan). Movements is again out-of-print worldwide in 2017.

Singles released from the album were the space age classic Footprints On The Moon (1969) and the moody suspense theme Fragment Of Fear (1970) from the film of the same name starring David Hemmings. Shirley Bassey recorded a vocal version of his arrangement of The Doors Light My Fire on her 1970 Something album which she still performs today.

Warner Brothers UK also released his Man in the Wilderness film soundtrack (1971) and the sequel to Movements - All To Bring You Morning (1973) before he left for the US to work with Paul Anka.

He composed the scores for several cult British films including Fragment of Fear (1970), Bloomfield (1971, his score was recorded in 1969 featuring Maurice Gibb of The Bee Gees), Man in the Wilderness (1971) and I Want What I Want (1972).

The American years (1972–present)[edit]

Johnny moved to the United States to record and conduct his orchestra in Las Vegas with Paul Anka where Elvis Presley asked him to lead his Vegas band. In 1973, while back in the UK at Advision Studios, he recorded the album All To Bring You Morning, with progressive rock musicians from the group Yes, Jon Anderson on vocals, Steve Howe on guitars and Alan White on drums who happened to be working in the next studio at Advision and asked to be involved in his follow-up album to Movements.

He continued to work with Paul Anka until 1977 and after that, he wanted to concentrate on scoring for film and television which led to a long-time gig as the musical director for Lynda Carter after he scored the third season of her television series of Wonder Woman in 1979.

Lynda Carter and the Johnny Harris Orchestra toured the world in 1980 to support her debut single for Motown Records The Last Song. His 1980 Miami disco hit Odyssey (TK Records) featured prominently on popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas playing on Bounce FM funk radio, as well as being in the lowrider challenge mission. The song was also featured in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Space Rockers", he originally wrote the song for that episode and arranged the opening Buck Rogers in the 25th Century theme music composed by Stu Phillips. The first 40 seconds of the Buck Rogers main-title theme is an original Johnny Harris composition before Stu's theme starts.

Since 1990 to its close, Johhny was the arranger and conductor for The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies at the historic Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs, California.[1]

Johnny Harris - The Man Who Turned Down Elvis Twice is a biography written by his daughter Julie Pearce-Martin published to celebrate his 80th birthday in November 2012.[2]

On 21 and 28 September 2013, Radio Six International broadcast two hour-long shows titled 'The Johnny Harris Story' written, produced and presented by Darren Stuart.[3]

Johnny's original music is still finding a new audience today with his score to the first season of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century released in 2013 and his contemporary Disco score to the third season of Wonder Woman due to be released in 2017.

Selected discography[edit]


  • 1966 : The Heart of Bart, United Artists Records SULP 1152
  • 1966 : A Handful Of Songs, United Artists Records UAS 6607
  • 1966 : The Guitar Workshop, Pye Records NSPL 18165
  • 1970 : Movements, Warner Bros Records WS 3002
  • 1972 : Man In The Wilderness, Warner Bros Records K 46126
  • 1972 : Bloomfield, Pye Records NSPL 18376
  • 1973 : All To Bring You Morning, Warner Bros Records K 46187
  • 2013 : Buck Rogers In The 25th Century - Season One, Intrada Records 255
  • 2017 : Wonder Woman - Season Three, La-La Land Records


  • 1965 : "Mynahg Hop" / "Here Comes the Boot", Mercury Records MF 949
  • 1969 : "Footprints On The Moon" / "Lulu's Theme", Warner Bros Records WB 8000
  • 1970 : "Fragment of Fear" / "Stepping Stones", Warner Bros Records WB 8016
  • 1971 : "Footprints On The Moon" / "Sacha's song" [Sacha Distel], Lyons Ready Brek Free Record SFI 83
  • 1976 : "Jubilation" / "Tip Top Theme", United Artists Records
  • 1980 : "Odyssey" (Pt 1) / "Odyssey" (Pt 2), Sunshine Sound Records SSD 4216
  • 1997 : "Stepping Stones Edit" / "Full Circle Mix" / "Try & Touch Mix", EMI Records CDLIC 108
  • 2016 : "Wonder Woman Main Title Season One" [Charles Fox & Norman Gimbel] / "Wonder Woman Main Title Season Three", La-La Land Records LLLLP 2002

Albums (arranger/producer/musical director)

  • 1966 : Jackie Trent - The Magic Of Jackie Trent, Pye Records NPL 18125
  • 1966 : Petula Clark - My Love, Pye Records NPL 18141
  • 1966 : Petula Clark - I Couldn't Live Without Your Love, Pye Records NPL 18148
  • 1967 : Roy Budd - …is The Sound Of Music, Pye Records NPL 18195
  • 1967 : Paul and Barry Ryan - Two Of A Kind, Decca Records LK 4878
  • 1967 : Tom Jones - Live at The Talk of the Town, Decca Records SKL 4874
  • 1967 : Engelbert Humperdinck - Twelve Great Songs Plus "Release Me", Decca Records SKL 4868
  • 1968 : Engelbert Humperdinck - A Man Without Love, Decca Records SKL 4939
  • 1968 : Tom Jones - Help Yourself, Decca Records SKL 4982
  • 1968 : Tom Jones - Delilah, Decca Records SKL 4946
  • 1969 : Lulu - Lulu's Album, EMI Columbia Records SCX 6365
  • 1970 : Shirley Bassey - Something, United Artists Records UAS 29100
  • 1971 : Paul Anka - Jubilation, Buddah Records BDS 5114
  • 1971 : Michael Allen - For The Love Of Mike, Decca Records PS 564
  • 1971 : Shirley Bassey -Something Else, United Artists Records UAS 29149
  • 1971 : Michael Allen - Something Special, MGM Records SE 4762
  • 1971 : Richard Harris - My Boy, Probe Records SPBA 6263
  • 1971 : Petula Clark - Petula '71, Pye Records NSPL 18370
  • 1972 : Shirley Bassey - I Capricorn, United Artists Records UAS 29246
  • 1972 : Shirley Bassey -And I Love You So, United Artists Records UAS 29385
  • 1972 : Petula Clark - Live at the Royal Albert Hall, Pye Records NSPL 18391
  • 1973 : Shirley Bassey -Never Never Never, United Artists Records UAS 29471
  • 1974 : Paul Anka - Anka, United Artists Records UA-LA314
  • 1975 : Odia Coates - Odia Coates, United Artists Records UA-LA228-G
  • 1982 : Shirley Bassey -All by Myself, Applause Records APP 1005
  • 2009 : Lynda Carter - At Last, Potomac Records 4001


  • 2016 Exiled Out East (TV series)
  • 2015 Play Date (Short film)
  • 2015 S&M Sally
  • 2015 Come Simi
  • 2005 The Entertainer (TV series)
  • 2004 Star Search (TV series)
  • 2003 Miss America Pageant (TV special)
  • 2003 Dance Fever (TV series)
  • 2001/2002 Next Big Star (TV series)
  • 1997 Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies (Short film)
  • 1996 Raven Hawk (TV movie)
  • 1996 Frequent Flyer (TV movie)
  • 1994 Guinevere (TV movie)
  • 1994 Thicker Than Blood: The Larry McLinden Story (TV movie)
  • 1994 I Spy Returns (TV movie)
  • 1993 Family Pictures (TV movie)
  • 1993 Lies and Lullabies (TV movie)
  • 1992 Maid for Each Other (TV movie)
  • 1991 Not of This World (TV movie)
  • 1989 Exploring Psychic Powers... Live (TV Special)
  • 1989 Women of the 21st Century (TV Special)
  • 1988 Necessity (TV movie)
  • 1986/1987 Downtown (TV series)
  • 1987 A Different Affair (TV movie)
  • 1986 Funny (TV special)
  • 1986 Can You Feel Me Dancing? (TV movie)
  • 1984 Partners in Crime (TV series)
  • 1984 Salute to Lady Liberty (TV Special)
  • 1984 Courage
  • 1984 Lynda Carter – Body And Soul (TV special)
  • 1982/1983 The Powers of Matthew Star (TV series)
  • 1982 Lynda Carter – Street Life (TV special)
  • 1982 Hotline (TV movie)
  • 1981 Born to Be Sold (TV movie)
  • 1981 Diana Ross – Diana (TV special)
  • 1981 Lynda Carter – Celebration (TV special)
  • 1980 The Last Song (TV movie)
  • 1980 Lynda Carter – Encore! (TV special)
  • 1979/1980 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (TV series)
  • 1979 Hello Berlin (TV Special with Liza Minnelli)
  • 1980 Lynda Carter – Lynda Carter Special (TV special)
  • 1980 Goldie and Liza Together (TV special)
  • 1979 The Lisa Hartman Show (TV special)
  • 1978/1979 Wonder Woman (TV series)
  • 1978 The Evil
  • 1978 The Initiation of Sarah (TV movie)
  • 1977 Paul Anka... Music My Way (TV Special)
  • 1972 I Want What I Want
  • 1971 Man in the Wilderness
  • 1971 Bloomfield
  • 1970 Fragment of Fear
  • 1970 An Evening with Petula – Petula Clark in concert from the Royal Albert Hall Part 2 (BBC TV Special)
  • 1969 Pop Go the Sixties! (BBC TV special)
  • 1969 An Evening with Petula – Petula Clark in concert from the Royal Albert Hall (BBC TV Special)
  • 1969 The Eurovision Song Contest (TV special)
  • 1969 Der Kerl liebt mich - und das soll ich glauben?
  • 1968/1969 Happening for Lulu (BBC TV series)
  • 1968 Lulu's Back in Town (BBC TV series)
  • 1968 BBC Show of the Week – Up Tight! Johnny Harris (BBC TV special)
  • 1964 The System[4]

TV commercials[edit]

  • Levi’s (1997/2000)
  • Michelob (1985)
  • Maybelline (1980)
  • Kodak (1976)
  • Texaco (1970)
  • Coca Cola (1965)[5]

Further reading[edit]

  • Stuart, Darren (2002). Johnny Harris - Movements CD & 2LP. London: Warner Bros. Records. 
  • Pearce-Martin, Julie (2012). Johnny Harris - The Man Who Turned Down Elvis Twice. Fastprint Publishing. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Purdy, Greg, ed. (2012). "Music Men's Skills, Expertise Provide Melodic Sparkel to the Folies". Follies Confidential. The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies: 13. 
  2. ^ / "Johnny Harris The Man Who Turned Down Elvis Twice" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  3. ^ / "The Johnny Harris Story" Check |url= value (help) (PDF). Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Stuart, Darren, ed. (2012). "Television And Filmography". The Man Who Turned Down Elvis Twice. Fastprint Publishing: 205–209. 
  5. ^ Stuart, Darren, ed. (2012). "Television And Filmography". The Man Who Turned Down Elvis Twice. Fastprint Publishing: 205–209. 

External links[edit]