A few years back, news reached us that London freelance trumpeter, Chris Deacon, had re-recorded the Coronation Street Theme (May 31st 2010, to be precise!) as makers Granada Television decided the old one was getting a bit, well, old and needing re-doing. Chris is also Principal Trumpet with the Birmingham Royal Ballet Company and has worked with the RLPO during my tenure in the trumpet section. The differing versions have invited a lot of discussion and caused a certain amount of controversy!
The Coronation Street theme Tune must be one of the most heard and familiar pieces of trumpet music in the world. The programme, made by Granada TV plays to millions of viewers, all over the world, every day. The composer of the theme, Eric Spear was apparently paid a mere £6 for his work, originally called Lancashire Blues in 1960.
I had often wondered who had played trumpet on the original theme. Some information came to light when RLPO Principal Trombone, Simon Cowen, went to hear a big band playing near Wigan recently. There was an amazing senior gentleman on lead trumpet, called Dave Browning. Simon said he sounded fantastic. Dave explained to Simon that he was lead trumpet with the famous Northern Dance Orchestra (now disbanded) and that he was the trumpet player on the Coronation Street Theme Tune, before it was recently re-recorded.
Well, this was great news to me. I used to watch the show when I was a kid, with my mother, but I haven’t seen it in years. Achieving satisfaction with this knowledge, I thought no more about it. That is, until today when this information appeared from CORONATION STREET BLOG, A site written by Corrie fans for Corrie fans.
“SUNDAY, 21 JUNE 2009
Row breaks out over Coronation Street theme tune
There’s been a bit of argy-bargy over who played and recorded the original Coronation Street theme tune. I blogged ages ago about musician Dave Browning who was reported to have recorded the trumpet solo featured in the Corrie theme tune. However, lately there have been a few comments left on that blog post saying that it wasn’t Dave Browning but Ronnie Hunt who played the trumpet solo.
Well, the row has now been reported in The Mail on Sunday. They say that the theme tune was always thought to be the work of Ronnie Hunt, now aged 90. However, 73-year-old Dave Browning insists it is his version of the theme tune that Corrie now uses. Mr Browning said he was asked to to re-record the tune in 1972 – for a one-off fee of £36 – because, he claims, Coronation Street makers Granada TV were unhappy with Mr Hunt’s original. But Mr Hunt has hit back and produced a letter from the Musicians’ Union confirming his role.”
The row erupted after an earlier blog on the same site … “Dave Browning played the trumpet on the original Coronation Street theme tune. And for the past 40-odd years, the man behind the instantly-recognisable opening bars of Corrie’s signature tune has modestly kept quiet about his claim to fame. And despite being used to start 5,826 episodes, trumpeter Dave Browning, 68, has revealed how he has only ever received a one-off fee.
Brass band player Dave, from Wilmslow, said: “I suppose if a repeat fee had been part of the deal all those years ago I’d be a rich man. But all I got was a one-off fee of £36 because that was the musicians’ union rate for working on a theme. I was happy with the fee at the time, but Granada Television have all the rights so there won’t be any more for it. I was just 24-years-old when I was approached by the musical director to record the theme in 1960. In those days, if Granada wanted a trumpet player and I was in the right place at the right time to get the job.”
I found the following on a Wiki site. The identity of the trumpeter on the original 1960 theme was not known until 1994. Legendary trumpeter Stan Roderick sent Ronnie [Hunt] to deputise for him on a session one day, which turned out to be the recording of the signature tune for Coronation Street. Apparently, the Musician’s Union in London has verified that Ronnie Hunt is the Trumpeter and that Ronnie has been receiving the standard union royalty payments over the past 40+ years since the airing commenced in 1964. Ronnie also apparently states in a signed affidavit that he is the trumpeter and he nor anyone else involved has ever heard of David Browning. It seems that the great Stan Roderick made a subsequent recording in 1964, but Granada stayed with the original performed by Ronnie Hunt and it continued to play up until the re-recording in 2010. It states that the Daily Mail cleared this up in 2009. Another Wiki sight reveals ITV confirmed to the Mail that a second version had been recorded in the 1970s, but was only used for a very short while before reverting to Hunt’s 1960 recording. In the 1980s the same original version was converted to stereo.
It would seem that Ronnie Hunt played the original theme in 1960. Whether Dave Browning re-recorded it in 1972, I can’t say. It is entirely possible/plausible, but I have no way of proving whose version was used after 1972 at this stage, one way or the other. If any one has more information I would be happy to hear from you.
The following help was supplied by London freelance trumpeter Stuart Jenkins. Sadly, Ronnie Hunt died in November 2011, in his nineties. This week, Stuart just happens to have purchased the Olds ‘Super’ Trumpet from Ronnie Hunt’s friend of 30 odd years, Phil Addison (see the comment section below). Included is the case and Ronnie Hunt’s Musician Union Royalty Invoices from Granada Television for his playing on the theme tune and the documents stating that this was the trumpet Ronnie used on the session.
Ronnie’s trumpet case
His initials on the case
The Olds ‘Super’ Trumpet used on the 1960 session
The invoices proving it was Ronnie on the Coronation Street Theme
…and here’s the all important one. A Muisicians’ Union royalty payment invoice for Ronnie for his playing on Coronation Street dated 1992!
I suppose that settles it then!
Well, no, it apparently doesn’t! Mike Thomas, a long time associate of Northern Trumpeter Dave Browning, has been been in touch with Dave (who has not been well) and Dave has provided his Musician Union receipts for royalty payments from Corrie to. Here goes…
Any other contributions to this debate are welcome. There is an extensive comment section below…
Another piece of information which came from Mike Thomas, although it has nothing actually to do with the debate, is this cast list from stage shows of Coronation Street. Dave Browning, interestingly, is providing the music…