- 05 Jan 21
The musician - who had UK and US No. 1 singles with the New Vaudeville Band, David Soul and more - died from pneumonia after surviving Covid-19 last year.
Grammy Award-winning British songwriter Geoff Stephens has died at the age of 86, his family have stated.
Stephens died on Christmas from pneumonia, following a positive Covid-19 test and subsequent recovery from the virus.
In a message sent to Variety, Stephens’ children said he “passed away with my Mum, his wife of 63 years, by his bedside”.
Born in 1934 in London, Stephens kicked off his songwriting career in musical theatre before delving into pop music.
He made his big break in the with his 1964 single for The Applejacks - ‘Tell Me When’ - which was co-written with Les Reed. The track landed in the UK Top Ten Singles Chart.
That year, he also signed the unknown Donovan to his first record contract, co-producing his debut album that featured Top 5 single 'Catch the Wind'.
He later wrote ‘The Crying Game’, first recorded by Dave Berry, which went on to be covered by Boy George in the 1990s and used as the soundtrack for the Neil Jordan film of the same name.
Stephens formed The New Vaudeville Band to record his song ‘Winchester Cathedral’, which went on to earn him the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Recording in 1967.
Frank Sinatra subsequently covered the song. The band had another UK Top 10 hit with 'Peek-a-Boo' that same year.
Stephens also wrote ‘There’s a Kind of Hush’ for The New Vaudeville Band, which was covered by Herman’s Hermits and The Carpenters in later years.
In addition to his group, Stephens also wrote or co-wrote successful songs for other high-profile artists including Tom Jones (‘Daughter of Darkness’), Scott Walker (‘Scott Walker’), Elvis Presley (‘Heart of Rome’) and The Hollies (‘Sorry Suzanne’).
His song 'Knock Knock, Who’s There?' reached No. 2 for Mary Hopkin in 1970, and also reached second place in the Eurovision song contest that year. The 1970s would see him write UK No. 1 hits for David Soul and the New Seekers, as well as songs for Hot Chocolate and more.
Fellow lyricist Sir Tim Rice celebrated Stephens’ life on Twitter following the news of his death, describing him as a “major talent and lovely chap”.