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Last on

Fri 13 Nov 2009 21:15 BBC Radio 2

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 13 November 2009

The final programme of Friday Night is Mercer Night sees the international superstar Barry Manilow present his own personal view of Johnny Mercer.

After the death of Johnny Mercer, his widow Ginger found a selection of his lyrics which appeared never to have been set to music. She approached Barry Manilow and asked him to compose melodies for them. Manilow's first song with the Mercer lyrics, When October Goes, has become a standard and many others have followed, recorded by the likes of Nancy Wilson, Monica Mancini and of course Manilow himself. Barry Manilow talks about the work he did to set the lyrics. We hear examples from recordings and others which have never before been released.

In addition, Barry Manilow tells the story of Mercer's later years and analyses how his genius developed. We hear about the way in which Mercer kept finding opportunities to write, even when the fashion for musical films was fading. There's a glimpse into Johnny Mercer's personal relationships, including an affair with Judy Garland. And there are insights into his final pieces of work and his last recordings.

New interviewees include the singer Andy Williams; the conductor and composer Andre Previn, who wrote a London stage musical with Mercer; and the lyricist Alan Bergman, to whom Mercer was a mentor.


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