Phillip Charles – musician impressario
18th February 1936 – 10th September 2007
Phillip was born in Hendon, London NW4, the second son of three to Elizabeth and Hugh Charles Ferry.
At the time his father, who used the name Hugh Charles, was a song pluger and writer, and by the early 1940's had a number of "hit" songs published by the Irwin Dash Music Company including "We'll Meet Again", "There'll Always be an England" and "Blue Skies around the corner".
Phillip was taught piano at an early age, and showed a talent for this. In the late 50's and 60's, he began composing, writing several musicals with his brother Irwin. His father by this time was Jack Hylton's general manager and no longer at home – living with Dolly Hylton – Jack's sister who sang with the band.
After a brief spell as assistant manager at the Aldephi Theatre, Phillip accompanied Summer Seasons at Sandown, Llandudno (for Clarkson Rose), pantomime at Hornchurch at the Queens Theatre, where he composed most of the numbers for the pantomime, and several shows at Unity Theatre in London. He joined the "Fol-de-Rols" - which his father had taken over and played for several seasons at Worthing, Eastbourne, Brighton, Scottish and Northern tours.
In 1967 he met the love of life – Jennifer Haley and they married in 1976.
Jennifer was a dancer in the "Fol-de-Rols", but began choreographing and in 1974 they were asked to put girls ("The Jenny Set") into a show at Ryde, Isle of Wight. For the next twenty years many girls enjoyed working in their shows wearing charming costumes and dancing and singing to Phillip's lovely arrangements.
Phillip and Jennifer formed "Charles Haley Productions" and in the words of one London Agent became the "Biggest and richest "little" management in London" (if only the "richest" had been true!) From 1975 they presented pantomimes and then summer shows, tours, and one night's all over the country.
Phillip had the idea of doing a "War Time Music Hall". "There'll Always be an England" was the first and best of all the 1940's shows, and this was presented all over the country even in Scotland as We'll Meet Again".
His two best productions were Noel Charles b. 1979, and Leon Charles b. 1986, two wonderful boys to whom he devoted his life, driving hundreds of miles to take them to their music lessons and concerts. His finest moments were when Noel was accepted as Organ Scholar at Oriel College, Oxford and Leon as Organ Scholar at St Johns College, Cambridge. He was so proud of them.
He retired from producing and professional playing in about 1996, but still played for Jennifer's stage school and did a little teaching. He will be remembered for his lovely music especially at their "Candlelight suppers" where he played all the oldies – Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, Gershwin, and so on.
Phillip was a wonderful, kind, generous, gentle and loving man. He died after an operation to remove gallstones at Whipps Cross Hospital on Monday September 10th 2007. He is much missed.