Grammy Award-winning British songwriter Geoff Stephens has died, aged 86, as confirmed by his family.
Stephens died before the turn of the new year on December 24 from pneumonia. The songwriter had previously tested positive and recovered from COVID-19. In a text 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 eventually moving into pop music. He made his big break in the pop world with his 1964 single for The Applejacks, ‘Tell Me When’, co-written with Les Reed, which landed in the UK Top Ten. His success continued with ‘The Crying Game’, first recorded by Dave Berry, which went on to be covered by Boy George in the ’90s and used as the theme for the Neil Jordan film of the same name.
One of Stephens’ most notable successes, however, was when he formed The New Vaudeville Band to record his song ‘Winchester Cathedral’. The song went on to earn Stephens the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Recording in 1967. The track was subsequently covered by Frank Sinatra.
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’).
Upon hearing of his death, fellow lyricist Sir Tim Rice celebrated Stephens’ life on Twitter, describing him as a “major talent and lovely chap”.
Very sad news in that the great British songwriter Geoff Stephens has died. He wrote many hits including standards such as A Kind Of Hush, The Crying Game and the wonderfully wacky Winchester Cathedral (covered by Sinatra among others) RIP a major talent and lovely chap.
— Tim Rice (@SirTimRice) December 24, 2020