Peter Knight was one of the most influential arrangers and music directors in the history of British theater and television. His work was so revered that, following his death in 1985, Yorkshire television launched the annual Peter Knight award to honor excellence in musical arranging.
Able to play the piano by ear as a child, Knight sharpened his skills by studying harmony, counterpoint and advanced piano playing. Appearing on the BBC Radio show, "Children's Hour" at the age of seven, he played with several semipro bands in London during his teens. In 1937, he placed first in the "Melody Maker" All London Dance Band competition. Three years later, he joined the Ambrose Orchestra, a big band that performed regularly at the Mayfield Hotel in London. Although he enlisted in the Royal Air Force during World War Two, he returned to music following his discharge and spent four years performing with Sydney Lipton at the Grosvenor House.
Forming a vocal group called the Peter Knight Singers with his wife Babs, Knight remained with the group for thirty years. He also spent a year performing with British vocalist Geraldo.
As musical director for London's West End shows in the early 1950s, Knight worked on such shows as "Cockles And Champagne" and "The Jazz Train." This led to a position as musical director for Granada Television in the late-'50s. In 1964, he served as musical director for a touring version of the musical, "The Roar Of The Greasepaint – The Smell Of The Crowd."
Not all of Knight's work as a musical director and arranger was limited to England. During the late-'70s, he worked on such Hollywood films as Sunstroke, The Curse Of The Crimson Alter and Roman Polansky's Tess. He continued his work as a freelance arranger and conductor, working on albums by Petula Clark, Sammy Davis, Jr., Harry Secombe and the Moody Blues. ~ Craig Harris