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Noel Gay
Noël Reginald Moxon Armitage Gay.jpg
Reginald Moxon Armitage

(1898-07-15)15 July 1898
Wakefield, Yorkshire, England
Died4 March 1954(1954-03-04) (aged 55)
Other namesStanley Hill
Alma materChrist's College, Cambridge
  • Songwriter
  • composer
StyleMusical theatre
ChildrenRichard Armitage Angela Armitage

Noel Gay (15 July 1898 – 4 March 1954)[1] was born Reginald Moxon Armitage. He also used the name Stanley Hill professionally.[2] He was a successful British composer of popular music of the 1930s and 1940s whose output comprised 45 songs as well as the music for 28 films and 26 London shows. Sheridan Morley has commented that he was "the closest Britain ever came to a local Irving Berlin".[3] He is best known for the musical, Me and My Girl.

Early life

Armitage was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England.[1] He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School before obtaining a scholarship at the age of 15 to attend the Royal College of Music in London, after which he attended university.[4] A precocious talent, he had deputised for the choirmaster of Wakefield Cathedral from the age of eight,[4] becoming honorary deputy organist at twelve. He had become music director and organist at St. Anne's Church in London's Soho district by the age of eighteen,[4] prior a brief period of military service during the First World War and then studied at Christ's College, Cambridge.[2][3]


Whilst at Cambridge, Armitage's interest in religious music and composition declined as that in musical comedy grew.[4] He began writing popular songs, using the stage name Noel Gay. According to Morley the name was derived "from a sign he read on a London bus in 1924: 'NOEL Coward and Maisie GAY in a new revue'." His pseudonym of Stanley Hill was used from time to time for his more sentimental work.[2] After contributing to revues such as Stop Press he was commissioned to write the entire score and lyrics for André Charlot's 1926 revue.[3] His next show was Clowns in Clover, which starred Cicely Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert, a husband-and-wife team of the time.[4]

Gay's career blossomed due to his talent for writing catchy, popular melodies in styles ranging from music hall to operetta.[4]

His most famous show, for which he contributed the music but not the lyrics, was Me and My Girl.[4] This originally opened in 1937 at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London and, after a shaky start, gained popularity when the BBC broadcast it live on radio on 13 January 1938. It starred Lupino Lane as Bill Snibson and it ran for 1,646 performances despite being bombed out of two theatres. The "showstopper" in that work was "The Lambeth Walk" which has the distinction of being the only popular song to be the subject of a leader in The Times. In October 1938 one of its leaders read "While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances – to 'The Lambeth Walk'."[5] The show was revived in 1952 and again in 1984, when the book was revised by Stephen Fry and came to include some of Gay's own songs.[3] The latter production ran for eight years, initially at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester and then at the Adelphi Theatre in London, before going on tour throughout Britain and transferring to Broadway.

Gay went on to write songs for revues by The Crazy Gang, and for star artists like Gracie Fields, Flanagan and Allen and George Formby, as well as penning popular World War II songs such as "Run Rabbit Run" (with lyrics by Ralph Butler).[4] He wrote two songs for the 1938 comedy film Save a Little Sunshine.[4]

After the war, his musical output diminished and he concentrated more on production, in part because of increasing deafness and also because the fashion for cheerful Cockney-themed songs was on the wane.[3]

He had created Noel Gay Music in 1938 as a business vehicle.[3] It now forms a part of the Noel Gay Organisation which includes divisions for television and theatre and is a significant British showbusiness agency, under the day-to-day control of his family.[6]

His son, Richard Armitage, set up the Noel Gay Artists agency and became an influential talent agent.[7]


Gay contributed to numerous shows, almost all of them musical comedies or revues. Grove Music Online lists the following, except where the genre is stated as uncertain or as pantomime:

Year Name Comedy/Revue Notes
1926 The Charlot Show of 1926 R
1927 Clowns in Clover R
1931 Hold My Hand C
Folly To Be Wise R included The King's Horses
1932 She Couldn't Say No Uncertain genre
1933 That's A Pretty Thing C Rev. as La-Di-Da-Di-Da, 1943
1935 Jack O'Diamonds C Rev. as Susie, 1942
Love Laughs C
Stop Press R
1936 O-Kay for Sound Book: Bob Weston & Bert Lee; music: Noel Gay, Harris Weston, Michael Carr & Jimmy Kennedy.[8] Included The Fleet's in Port Again
1937 Me and My Girl C Filmed as The Lambeth Walk, 1939
1938 Wild Oats C
1939 The Little Dog Laughed London Palladium Revue
1940 Lights Up R included Let The People Sing, Only A Glass of Champagne, You've Done Something to My Heart, The Girl Who Loves a Soldier
Present Arms C
1942 Gangway R
1943 The Love Racket C
1944 Meet Me Victoria C
Ring Time C
1946 Sweetheart Mine C
1948 Bob's Your Uncle C
1949 Aladdin Score for pantomime)[3]


Among Noel Gay's songs were the following, sourced from US Library of Congress copyright catalogues and the catalogue of the National Library of Australia as indicated.

Year Song From Lyrics Music Lyrics & Music Source
1929 Tondeleyo White Cargo (film – this was the first song to be used in a British talkie[3]) Stanley Hill (Noel Gay) Noel Gay NLA[9]
1931 Girl of a Million Dreams Jos. Geo. Gilbert Noel Gay LCC 1931[10]
Mrs Elizabeth Brown Jos. Geo. Gilbert Noel Gay LCC 1931
The King's Horses and The King's Men Noel Gay & Harry Graham LCC 1931
Laughing at the Rain Jos. Geo. Gilbert Noel Gay LCC 1931
Goddess of the Moon The Chinese Bungalow Noel Gay LCC 1931
I Want The World To Know That I Belong To You On with the Show Jos. Geo. Gilbert Noel Gay LCC 1931
The Pied Piper of Hamelin Hold My Hand Desmond Carter & Noel Gay Noel Gay LCC 1932;[11] NLA
Hold My Hand Hold My Hand Harry Graham Maurice Elwin & Noel Gay LCC 1932
Dearest, It's You Jos. Geo. Gilbert / Benny Davis Noel Gay LCC 1932
Nobody's Baby Is Somebody's Baby Now Gus Kahn Noel Gay LCC 1932
Ali Baba's Camel Noel Gay NLA
1932 Land of Love and Laughter Archie Gottler Noel Gay LCC 1932
Turn on the Music Noel Gay & Desmond Carter Noel Gay LCC 1932
Thou Shalt Not Archie Gottler Noel Gay LCC 1932
All for the Love of A Lady Archie Gottler / J P Long Noel Gay LCC 1932
The Sun Has Got His Hat On Ralph Butler & Noel Gay LCC 1932
Round The Marble Arch Ralph Butler & Noel Gay LCC 1932
Lovely Little Silhouette Archie Gottler Noel Gay LCC 1932
I Don't Want To Go To Bed Stanley Lupino Noel Gay NLA
I've Found The Right Girl / Oh What A Girl Stanley Lupino & Noel Gay NLA
1933 La-di-da-di-da That's A Pretty Thing Desmond Carter Noel Gay LCC 1934[12]
I'm Hitching My Wagon To You That's A Pretty Thing Desmond Carter Noel Gay LCC 1934
I Took My Harp to a Party Desmond Carter Noel Gay LCC 1934
Why Can't We You Made Me Love You (film) Clifford Grey Noel Gay LCC 1934
The Song You Gave To Me Clifford Grey & Noel Gay Noel Gay NLA
Letting in the Sunshine Noel Gay NLA
One Little Kiss From You Clifford Grey Noel Gay NLA
There's Something About A Soldier Soldiers of the King (film) Noel Gay NLA
The Moment I Saw You Soldiers of the King (film) Clifford Grey Noel Gay NLA
1934 Fit For Anything Desmond Carter Noel Gay LCC 1934
Happy Happy (film) Stanley Lupino & Noel Gay LCC 1934
Who's Been Polishing The Sun? The Camels Are Coming (film) Noel Gay NLA
I'll Pray For You Roy King & Stanley Hill (Noel Gay) Jos. Geo. Gilbert & Noel Gay NLA
1935 Time Love Laughs! Desmond Carter Noel Gay NLA
All for a Shilling A Day Where's My Man? Clifford Grey & Noel Gay Noel Gay NLA
1936 The Fleet's in Port Again O-Kay For Sound (and as film, 1937) Noel Gay NLA
Let's Have A Tiddly at the Milk Bar Noel Gay NLA
1937 Red, White and Blue Noel Gay NLA
The Lambeth Walk Douglas Furber Noel Gay NLA
Me and My Girl Douglas Furber Noel Gay NLA
Leaning on a Lamp-post Noel Gay NLA
Won't You Buy My Pretty Flowers Jack Meskill & Noel Gay Noel Gay NLA
1938 Love Makes The World Go Round These Foolish Things Stanley Hill (Noel Gay) NLA
1939 Did You Go Down Lambeth Way? Noel Gay NLA
You've Done Something to My Heart Lights Up Frank Eyton & Ian Grant Noel Gay NLA
Run, Rabbit, Run The Little Dog Laughed Ralph Butler & Noel Gay Noel Gay NLA
The Girl Who Loves A Soldier Ralph Butler & Noel Gay Noel Gay NLA
Let The People Sing Frank Eyton & Ian Grant Noel Gay NLA
Birthday of the Little Princess Noel Gay NLA
The Moon Remembered But You Forgot Frank Eyton & Noel Gay NLA
Fare Thee Well Jimmy Campbell, Frank Eyton & Noel Gay NLA
1940 All Over The Place Sailors Three (film) Frank Eyton & Noel Gay Noel Gay NLA
Oh What A Wonderful Night We've Had Tonight Ralph Butler & Noel Gay Noel Gay NLA
Oh! Buddy, I'm in Love Ralph Butler & Noel Gay Noel Gay NLA
Whose Little What's-it Are You? Frank Eyton & Noel Gay NLA
Moonlight Avenue Jos. Geo. Gilbert, Jimmy Campbell & Noel Gay NLA
1941 Come Happy Day Bill Hutter & Noel Gay NLA
Mr Brown of London Town Reginald Arkell & Noel Gay NLA
Hey! Little Hen Ralph Butler & Noel Gay NLA
She's in Love with a Soldier David Heneker & Noel Gay NLA
I'd Never Fall in Love Again Ralph Butler & Noel Gay NLA
Oh! How He Misses His Missus (Since He Became A Military Man) Ralph Butler & Noel Gay NLA
He Wants To Be A Pilot Muriel Watson, Jack Denby & Noel Gay NLA
Who Are You A-Shovin' Of? Raymond Moore & Noel Gay NLA
1942 The First Waltz Ralph Butler & Noel Gay NLA
1943 Happy Days, Happy Months, Happy Years Frank Eyton & Noel Gay NLA
Sitting on a Cloud Ralph Butler & Noel Gay NLA
I'm Mad at Myself Joe Lubin & Noel Gay NLA
Why Say Goodbye Tommy Angel, Joyce Cochrane & Noel Gay NLA
1944 We Don't Know Where We're Going Ralph Butler & Noel Gay NLA
1945 The Too-rie on His Bonnet George Brown Noel Gay NLA
1946 When Alice Blue Gown Met Little Boy Blue Arnold, Ralph Butler & Simpson Noel Gay NLA
1949 I'll Always Love You Frank Eyton & Noel Gay Noel Gay NLA
1950 My Thanks To You Norman Newell Noel Gay NLA

Some of his songs featured in the film Overlord


  • Dickinson, Stephen (1999). Marigold: The Music of Billy Mayerl. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ganzl, Kurt (1986). The British Musical Theatre. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


  1. ^ a b "Noel Gay (1898-1954)". Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Snelson, John. Gay, Noel (Armitage, Reginald Moxon) – Grove Music (Online ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Morley, Sheridan (May 2005) [2004]. Gay, Noel (1898–1954) – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 949/950. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  5. ^ "Peace and 'The Lambeth Walk'", The Times, 18 October 1938, p. 15
  6. ^ "Noel Gay Organisation – About Us". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Not Again". Not the Nine O'Clock News. 3 August 2013. BBC Television. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [C] Group 3. Dramatic Composition and Motion Pictures. New Series". Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [C] Group 3. Dramatic Composition and Motion Pictures. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 9 (1): 292. 1936. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  9. ^ "Catalogue". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  10. ^ "Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions". Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3. New. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 26 (1). 1931. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  11. ^ "Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions". Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3. New. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 27 (1–12). 1932. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  12. ^ "Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions". Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions, Part 3. New. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 29 (1–12). 1934. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
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