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
Readers 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
During this time he worked for Dick James Music and released his first record Jukes Jingle
backed with Joeys 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 The
Allisons and he later became resident on TV with the Five o'clock Club and Stubby
Kayes 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
Around this time Mikes 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.