Reginald Moxon Armitage
15 July 1898
Wakefield, Yorkshire, England
|Died||4 March 1954(aged 55)|
|Other names||Stanley Hill|
|Alma mater||Christ's College, Cambridge|
Noel Gay (15 July 1898 – 4 March 1954) was born Reginald Moxon Armitage. He also used the name Stanley Hill professionally. He was a successful British composer of popular music of the 1930s and 1940s whose output comprised 45 songs as well as the music for 28 films and 26 London shows. Sheridan Morley has commented that he was "the closest Britain ever came to a local Irving Berlin". He is best known for the musical, Me and My Girl.
Armitage was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School before obtaining a scholarship at the age of 15 to attend the Royal College of Music in London, after which he attended university. A precocious talent, he had deputised for the choirmaster of Wakefield Cathedral from the age of eight, becoming honorary deputy organist at twelve. He had become music director and organist at St. Anne's Church in London's Soho district by the age of eighteen, prior a brief period of military service during the First World War and then studied at Christ's College, Cambridge.
Whilst at Cambridge, Armitage's interest in religious music and composition declined as that in musical comedy grew. He began writing popular songs, using the stage name Noel Gay. According to Morley the name was derived "from a sign he read on a London bus in 1924: 'NOEL Coward and Maisie GAY in a new revue'." His pseudonym of Stanley Hill was used from time to time for his more sentimental work. After contributing to revues such as Stop Press he was commissioned to write the entire score and lyrics for André Charlot's 1926 revue. His next show was Clowns in Clover, which starred Cicely Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert, a husband-and-wife team of the time.
His most famous show, for which he contributed the music but not the lyrics, was Me and My Girl. This originally opened in 1937 at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London and, after a shaky start, gained popularity when the BBC broadcast it live on radio on 13 January 1938. It starred Lupino Lane as Bill Snibson and it ran for 1,646 performances despite being bombed out of two theatres. The "showstopper" in that work was "The Lambeth Walk" which has the distinction of being the only popular song to be the subject of a leader in The Times. In October 1938 one of its leaders read "While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances – to 'The Lambeth Walk'." The show was revived in 1952 and again in 1984, when the book was revised by Stephen Fry and came to include some of Gay's own songs. The latter production ran for eight years, initially at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester and then at the Adelphi Theatre in London, before going on tour throughout Britain and transferring to Broadway.
Gay went on to write songs for revues by The Crazy Gang, and for star artists like Gracie Fields, Flanagan and Allen and George Formby, as well as penning popular World War II songs such as "Run, Rabbit, Run" (with lyrics by Ralph Butler). He wrote two songs for the 1938 comedy film Save a Little Sunshine.
After the war, his musical output diminished and he concentrated more on production, in part because of increasing deafness and also because the fashion for cheerful Cockney-themed songs was on the wane.
He had created Noel Gay Music in 1938 as a business vehicle. It now forms a part of the Noel Gay Organisation which includes divisions for television and theatre and is a significant British showbusiness agency, under the day-to-day control of his family.
He died from cancer on 4 March 1954. 
Gay contributed to numerous shows, almost all of them musical comedies or revues. Grove Music Online lists the following, except where the genre is stated as uncertain or as pantomime:
|1926||The Charlot Show of 1926||R|
|1927||Clowns in Clover||R|
|1931||Hold My Hand||C|
|Folly To Be Wise||R||included The King's Horses|
|1932||She Couldn't Say No||Uncertain genre|
|1933||That's A Pretty Thing||C||Rev. as La-Di-Da-Di-Da, 1943|
|1935||Jack O'Diamonds||C||Rev. as Susie, 1942|
|1936||O-Kay for Sound||Book: Bob Weston & Bert Lee; music: Noel Gay, Harris Weston, Michael Carr & Jimmy Kennedy. Included The Fleet's in Port Again|
|1937||Me and My Girl||C||Filmed as The Lambeth Walk, 1939|
|1939||The Little Dog Laughed||London Palladium Revue|
|1940||Lights Up||R||included Let The People Sing, Only A Glass of Champagne, You've Done Something to My Heart, The Girl Who Loves a Soldier|
|1943||The Love Racket||C|
|1944||Meet Me Victoria||C|
|1948||Bob's Your Uncle||C|
|1949||Aladdin||Score for pantomime)|
Among Noel Gay's songs were the following, sourced from US Library of Congress copyright catalogues and the catalogue of the National Library of Australia as indicated.
|Year||Song||From||Lyrics||Music||Lyrics & Music||Source|
|1929||Tondeleyo||White Cargo (film – this was the first song to be used in a British talkie)||Stanley Hill (Noel Gay)||Noel Gay||NLA|
|1931||Girl of a Million Dreams||Jos. Geo. Gilbert||Noel Gay||LCC 1931|
|Mrs Elizabeth Brown||Jos. Geo. Gilbert||Noel Gay||LCC 1931|
|The King's Horses and The King's Men||Noel Gay & Harry Graham||LCC 1931|
|Laughing at the Rain||Jos. Geo. Gilbert||Noel Gay||LCC 1931|
|Goddess of the Moon||The Chinese Bungalow||Noel Gay||LCC 1931|
|I Want The World To Know That I Belong To You||On with the Show||Jos. Geo. Gilbert||Noel Gay||LCC 1931|
|The Pied Piper of Hamelin||Hold My Hand||Desmond Carter & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||LCC 1932; NLA|
|Hold My Hand||Hold My Hand||Harry Graham||Maurice Elwin & Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|Dearest, It's You||Jos. Geo. Gilbert / Benny Davis||Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|Nobody's Baby Is Somebody's Baby Now||Gus Kahn||Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|Ali Baba's Camel||Noel Gay||NLA|
|1932||Land of Love and Laughter||Archie Gottler||Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|Turn on the Music||Noel Gay & Desmond Carter||Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|Thou Shalt Not||Archie Gottler||Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|All for the Love of A Lady||Archie Gottler / J P Long||Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|The Sun Has Got His Hat On||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|Round The Marble Arch||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|Lovely Little Silhouette||Archie Gottler||Noel Gay||LCC 1932|
|I Don't Want To Go To Bed||Stanley Lupino||Noel Gay||NLA|
|I've Found The Right Girl / Oh What A Girl||Stanley Lupino & Noel Gay||NLA|
|1933||La-di-da-di-da||That's A Pretty Thing||Desmond Carter||Noel Gay||LCC 1934|
|I'm Hitching My Wagon To You||That's A Pretty Thing||Desmond Carter||Noel Gay||LCC 1934|
|I Took My Harp to a Party||Desmond Carter||Noel Gay||LCC 1934|
|Why Can't We||You Made Me Love You (film)||Clifford Grey||Noel Gay||LCC 1934|
|The Song You Gave To Me||Clifford Grey & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Letting in the Sunshine||Noel Gay||NLA|
|One Little Kiss From You||Clifford Grey||Noel Gay||NLA|
|There's Something About A Soldier||Soldiers of the King (film)||Noel Gay||NLA|
|The Moment I Saw You||Soldiers of the King (film)||Clifford Grey||Noel Gay||NLA|
|1934||Fit For Anything||Desmond Carter||Noel Gay||LCC 1934|
|Happy||Happy (film)||Stanley Lupino & Noel Gay||LCC 1934|
|Who's Been Polishing The Sun?||The Camels Are Coming (film)||Noel Gay||NLA|
|I'll Pray For You||Roy King & Stanley Hill (Noel Gay)||Jos. Geo. Gilbert & Noel Gay||NLA|
|1935||Time||Love Laughs!||Desmond Carter||Noel Gay||NLA|
|All for a Shilling A Day||Where's My Man?||Clifford Grey & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||NLA|
|1936||The Fleet's in Port Again||O-Kay For Sound (and as film, 1937)||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Let's Have A Tiddly at the Milk Bar||Noel Gay||NLA|
|1937||Red, White and Blue||Noel Gay||NLA|
|The Lambeth Walk||Douglas Furber||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Me and My Girl||Douglas Furber||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Leaning on a Lamp-post||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Won't You Buy My Pretty Flowers||Jack Meskill & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||NLA|
|1938||Love Makes The World Go Round||These Foolish Things||Stanley Hill (Noel Gay)||NLA|
|1939||Did You Go Down Lambeth Way?||Noel Gay||NLA|
|You've Done Something to My Heart||Lights Up||Frank Eyton & Ian Grant||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Run, Rabbit, Run||The Little Dog Laughed||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||NLA|
|The Girl Who Loves A Soldier||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Let The People Sing||Frank Eyton & Ian Grant||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Birthday of the Little Princess||Noel Gay||NLA|
|The Moon Remembered But You Forgot||Frank Eyton & Noel Gay||NLA|
|Fare Thee Well||Jimmy Campbell, Frank Eyton & Noel Gay||NLA|
|1940||All Over The Place||Sailors Three (film)||Frank Eyton & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Oh What A Wonderful Night We've Had Tonight||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Oh! Buddy, I'm in Love||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||NLA|
|Whose Little What's-it Are You?||Frank Eyton & Noel Gay||NLA|
|Moonlight Avenue||Jos. Geo. Gilbert, Jimmy Campbell & Noel Gay||NLA|
|1941||Come Happy Day||Bill Hutter & Noel Gay||NLA|
|Mr Brown of London Town||Reginald Arkell & Noel Gay||NLA|
|Hey! Little Hen||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||NLA|
|She's in Love with a Soldier||David Heneker & Noel Gay||NLA|
|I'd Never Fall in Love Again||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||NLA|
|Oh! How He Misses His Missus (Since He Became A Military Man)||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||NLA|
|He Wants To Be A Pilot||Muriel Watson, Jack Denby & Noel Gay||NLA|
|Who Are You A-Shovin' Of?||Raymond Moore & Noel Gay||NLA|
|1942||The First Waltz||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||NLA|
|1943||Happy Days, Happy Months, Happy Years||Frank Eyton & Noel Gay||NLA|
|Sitting on a Cloud||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||NLA|
|I'm Mad at Myself||Joe Lubin & Noel Gay||NLA|
|Why Say Goodbye||Tommy Angel, Joyce Cochrane & Noel Gay||NLA|
|1944||We Don't Know Where We're Going||Ralph Butler & Noel Gay||NLA|
|1945||The Too-rie on His Bonnet||George Brown||Noel Gay||NLA|
|1946||When Alice Blue Gown Met Little Boy Blue||Arnold, Ralph Butler & Simpson||Noel Gay||NLA|
|1949||I'll Always Love You||Frank Eyton & Noel Gay||Noel Gay||NLA|
|1950||My Thanks To You||Norman Newell||Noel Gay||NLA|
Some of his songs featured in the film Overlord
- Dickinson, Stephen (1999). Marigold: The Music of Billy Mayerl. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Ganzl, Kurt (1986). The British Musical Theatre. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- "Noel Gay (1898-1954)". Openplaques.org. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
- Snelson, John. Gay, Noel (Armitage, Reginald Moxon) – Grove Music (Online ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
- Morley, Sheridan (May 2005) . "Gay, Noel (1898–1954) – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56656. Retrieved 21 January 2011. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 949/950. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
- "Peace and 'The Lambeth Walk'", The Times, 18 October 1938, p. 15
- "Noel Gay Organisation – About Us". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
- "Not Again". Not the Nine O'Clock News. 3 August 2013. BBC Television. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
- "Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [C] Group 3. Dramatic Composition and Motion Pictures. New Series". Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [C] Group 3. Dramatic Composition and Motion Pictures. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 9 (1): 292. 1936. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
- "Catalogue". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
- "Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions". Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3. New. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 26 (1). 1931. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
- "Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions". Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3. New. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 27 (1–12). 1932. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
- "Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions". Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3. New. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 29 (1–12). 1934. Retrieved 21 January 2011.