Mike Hill

Musician. Mike Hill who was organist for Chelsea Lodge for 21 years passed away on 1 May 2002 and left behind a legacy that will never be surpassed. He was the finest exponent of the ad-lib song which always came at the appropriate time during a ceremony or when brethren arrived late.
His great friend, Dr Ted Callister, who took over the organ whilst Mike was being invested with his collar at Installation always played The Hills are Alive with The Sound of Music. The song There'll Never be Another You summed him up.
What of the real Mike Hill? Very few people could get close to him as he was a very private person, but from his personal papers and comments from his friends and acquaintances a fascinating story emerges.
Mike Hill, born in Hartlepool on the 11 November 1935, came from a musical family. His mother was a piano teacher, his father a violinist and his brother Paul a drummer so he had a good grounding in music. Mike was a natural and gifted musician (in fact a child prodigy) and at the age of 13 was introduced by telephone live on radio to Hughie Green for Opportunity Knocks. He played four instruments: piano, vibes, harpsichord and orchestra bells going from one instrument to the next until he had completed the song he was asked to do. Hughie Green invited him to the show and he won. He then became a regular on the show and travelled the country, playing for Jack Taylor's Juveniles, Ralph Reader’s Gang Shows and many more.
He became resident with the Merry Magpies doing stage and radio work with Tommy Thompson, Ted Alex, Edna Dean, Michael Hibbert and Terry Moore. He had offers from Scotland, Ireland, Jersey and abroad.
He went to Birmingham to audition for ITV's Bid For Fame, a contest that he won. He worked quite a lot on TV and played the American Bases. Mike continued working until 1960 when he took a break for a month, then it was back to the grindstone. According to his diary (written by his mother) the list of engagements, far too numerous to detail, reads like a Who's Who in Showbusiness. They include working with Derek Foulds, Connie Francis, Graham Hill, Jon Pertwee, Wally Whyton and Jack Wild. Mike appeared on the BBC Light Programme in Tuesday Rendezvous.
During this time he worked for Dick James Music and released his first record Jukes Jingle backed with Joey’s Song. His second record was released on 14 October 1960 called Beatnik Boogie backed with Mike's Song. In all he composed about eighteen songs.


Mike then went on tour again with Tito Burns and Mike Hill.jpg (17946 bytes)The Allisons and he later became resident on TV with the Five o'clock Club and Stubby Kaye’s Silver Star Show. Overseas engagements in 1967 took him to Germany and Sweden as musical director to Jayne Mansfield. He returned to Dick James and was invited to be musical advisor to The Beatles. A signed photo of the group was a proud possession but when funds were drying up in 1997 he sold the photo at an auction at Sotherby's. No asking price is listed in his diary, nor is what the photo realised in hard cash.
Throughout the 1970s Mike played in almost every pub and club in London and continued recording changing labels to the Edmat label. His final recording was From Us To You together with Kenny Williams and Guy Saville. On the record sleeve DJ Adrian Love said: "You have in your hands the product of three of the best entertainers in London."
Around this time Mike’s health began to deteriorate but he continued to be the unofficial ambassador to the widows of the Lodge and was always in touch with them.
Mike Hill was a very artistic person and renovated numerous Lodge banners during his time as a Freemason. He left behind another legacy in the form of a Yorkshire terrier called Bobo who became known as "The Chelsea Mascot".
He had so many facets to his life and will be remembered by someone, for something, for the good he has done.
Michael Hill was initiated into Proscenium Lodge No.3435 on 1 September 1968 and was Master in 1978. Joined Chelsea Lodge, 18 January 1974 and became Master in 1980. LGR, 1991. He died 1 May 2002, aged 66 years. A Memorial Service was held at St Paul's (the Actors Church), Bedford Street, London WC2 on 16 September 2002.

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