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Ronnie Hazlehurst

Blue Collar Rat


Water Rat Number 776 - initiated into the Order on 24 May 1992

Ronnie will be best remembered for the numerous theme tunes composed for BBC sitcoms. These included 'Only Fools & Horses', 'Yes (Prime) Minister', 'To The Manor Born', 'Blankety Blank', 'The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin', 'Last of the Summer Wine' and 'Some Mother Do 'Ave 'Em'.

Born in Dukinfield, Ashton under Lyne, on 13th March 1928 he began his professional career as a trumpet player but in 1961 he joined the BBC as an arranger and composer eventually becoming Light Entertainment Director. In 1971 he took charge of the musical side of 'The Two Ronnies'. Ronnie said writing music was not all that difficult "I would sing the show's title to myself a few times and the write down the result". The BBC once said that his theme tune for 'Last of the Summer Wine' did not sound 'funny?' enough, would he speed it up. Happily, there was no time to rewrite the piece and it is one of his most loved numbers. He certainly was not over-paid for his work. He was paid 30 for composing the theme to 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em'.

He conducted the orchestra at least eight Royal Variety Performances. He was musical director for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 (Brighton), 1977 (Wembley, London) and 1982 (Harrogate). He also conducted the British entry on seven occasions (1977,1982,1987, 1988, 1989 1991 & 1992 as well as the German entry in 1977. His sense of humour was given full reign in 1977 when he conducted Lynsey de Paul & Mike Moran with a rolled-up umbrella instead of a baton and wearing a bowler hat. He also amazed many people when he composed with Cathy Dennis the hit song 'Reach' for the teen-pop group S Club 7 ? which reached No 2 in the pop chart

He also arranged and conducted music for the film 'The English Patient'.

In 1999 Ronnie received a Gold Badge Award from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters.

He moved to Guernsey with his partner Jean Fitzgerald, who with his two sons from his second marriage survives him.
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