Mar 04

RUSS CONWAY – ‘Side Saddle’

Popular13 comments • 3,535 views

#83, 27th March 1959

If you look at the top TV hits of the late 50s the lists seem to be dominated by cowboy shows. I could try on some spiel about the stark contrast between good and evil in these shows reflecting the political situation of the time, but probably the plenitude of westerns was down to cheap costumes and reusable sets. Russ Conway meanwhile was an ex-Navy man and pub pianist who became a favourite of the Queen Mum, but the mood and title of ‘Side Saddle’ makes me think of cowboys. It’s two jaunty, inconsequential minutes of piano pop, partway between Wild West saloon and East End joanna, as 2-D and appealing as a TV western set. After the startling pop advances of the previous year it sounds particularly time-lost, but also rather innocent.



  1. 1
    bramble on 7 Sep 2006 #

    One of the remarkable things about Russ Conways skills in tickling the ivories was that he had chopped off part of a finger in a bacon slicer in the Merchant Navy. Several years later he chopped off part of another in a car door. Both accidentally.

  2. 2
    Waldo on 21 Feb 2007 #

    Even more remarkably, Russ was once playing as an end of the pier act in Llandudno when all of a sudden his head fell off.

  3. 3
    Billy Smart on 20 Aug 2007 #

    The production of this is so primitive that it adds a further layer of interest to the tune. There’s a constant repetition of reverberation that makes it sound as though a phone is ringing in the studio.

  4. 4
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Aug 2007 #

    There was a ‘phone ringing in the studio – it was Joe Meek yelling at Norrie Paramor to stop nicking his Winifred Atwell production tricks!

  5. 5
    wichita lineman on 8 Apr 2009 #

    More west end saloon bar than wild west saloon. You can picture Nina Hamnett collapsed in the corner as Russ attempts to summon the spirit of Albion past/Hollywood present.

    I had this on a 78 as a kid (I’m so very old), to play on a hand-me-down wind-up gramophone. I still love the slightly melancholy, milkman-whistled melody, but production-wise it’s very much less exciting than Winifred Atwell’s earlier brace.

  6. 6
    susie on 16 Apr 2009 #

    My mum remembers listening to ‘Side Saddle’ on the hospital radio when I was born (50 years ago last week – eek!!) and I’ve had the sheet music and played it on the piano as my ‘signature tune’ since I was a teenager!

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 13 Jul 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch; Russ Conway was a frequent guest performer on UK TV. These performances no longer exist;

    CILLA: with The Irving Davies Dancers, The Ladybirds, Matt Monro, Russ Conway (1968)

    DODDY’S MUSIC BOX: with Russ Conway, David Hamilton, Rosemary Squires, Dick Francis, Two And A Half (1967)

    DRUMBEAT: with The Barry Sisters, The Kingpins, Dennis Lotis, Russ Conway (1959)

    DRUMBEAT: with The Barry Sisters, The Kingpins, Russ Conway (1959)

    IT’S TARBUCK!: with Peter Gordeno, Kenny Lynch, Jack Parnell and his Orchestra, Russ Conway, Matt Monro (1971)

    THE LONDON PALLADIUM SHOW: with Jimmy Tarbuck (Compere), Frank Ifield, Russ Conway, Jack Douglas & Jack Haig, The Theron Dollies (1966)

    MIKE AND BERNIE’S SCENE: with Russ Conway, The Baker Twins, Patricia Hayes, Pete Murray, Linda Kendrick (1970)

    MOIRA ANDERSON SINGS: with BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra (Hosts), Russ Conway (1968)

    THE ROLF HARRIS SHOW: with Nana Mouskouri, The Young Generation, Noel Harrison, Russ Conway (1969)


    SATURDAY VARIETY: with Charlie Drake, Russ Conway, Larry Grayson, The Grumbleweeds (1972)

    SHOWTIME: with David Nixon, Stanley Unwin, Jimmy James, Russ Conway (1959)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Dennis Lotis, Russ Conway, Lorrae Desmond, Jackie Dennis, Paul Beatty, The Lidelle Triplets, The Six-Five Dates, Bryan Buckingham, Reg Owen and his Band, Tito Burns ‘6.5ers’ (1958)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Lonnie Donegan, Jill Day, Mike and Bernie Winters, Ronnie Carroll, Russ Conway, The Eric Delaney Band, Dill Jones Trio, Don Lang and his Frantic Five (1958)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with The Six-Five Dates, Ruby Murray, Ronnie Carroll, Russ Conway, Audrey Jeans, Vince Eager, Craig Douglas, Frank Cook, Billy Raymond, The Tracy Sisters (1958)

    TARBUCK’S BACK: with Jack Douglas, Audrey Jeans, Russ Conway, Rita Webb (1969)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Russ Conway, Acker Bilk, Gary Miller, Al Saxon, Dick Charles Worth and his City Gents, Ray Ellington & Sandra
    Gale (1961)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Russ Conway, The Shadows, The Brook Brothers, Eddie Falcon, Julie Rayne, Dave Sampson, Teddy Johnson & Pearl Carr (1961)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Petula Clark, Russ Conway, Michael Holliday, The Brook Brothers, Mike Cotton Jazzmen, Mike Sarne, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Keith Fordyce (1962)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Russ Conway, The Shadows, Danny Williams, Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazzmen, Russ Hamilton, Susan Singer, Terry Young, Jimmy Young (1962)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Brenda Lee, Russ Conway, Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen, Barbara Windsor, Alvin Stardust, Bick Ford, Keith Fordyce (1963)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Helen Shapiro, Russ Conway, Mark Wynter, Lesley Gore, Grazina, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Grant Tracy and the Sunsets, Frankie Vaughan, Janice Nicholls (1963)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, The Searchers, Russ Conway, Billy Walker, Kenny Lynch, Anita Harris (1965)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Joe Brown, Russ Conway, The Overlanders, The Alan Price Set (1966)

    THE YOUNG GENERATION: with Nina, Lou Rawls, Keith Potger and The New Seekers, Russ Conway (1970)

    – But these ones still do!;

    BIG NIGHT OUT: with Mike and Bernie Winters (Hosts), David Hamilton (Voice Over Opening Credits), Lionel Blair and his Dancers, The ABC Television Showband, Russ Conway, The Peters Sisters, Bob Monkhouse (1964)

    THE ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE: with Bruce Forsyth, The Crazy Gang, Russ Conway, Frankie Howerd, Diana Dors, Vera Lynn, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Bob Monkhouse, Norman Wisdom, Jimmy Edwards (1960)

    SATURDAY VARIETY: with Edward Woodward, Leslie Crowther, Russ Conway, Larry Grayson, The Settlers (1972)

    THIS IS YOUR LIFE: Russ Conway (1959)

    VAL PARNELL’S SPECTACULAR: The Russ Conway Show (1960)

    WHEELTAPPERS AND SHUNTERS SOCIAL CLUB: with Russ Conway, P. J. Proby, Brotherhood Of Man (1974)

  8. 8
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #


    Peter Donohoe, pianist(1988).

  9. 9
    clive brooks on 15 Jul 2012 #

    have you any of the list of shows

  10. 10
    redhairkid on 15 Feb 2015 #

    The #1 when I was born. Yes, I really am that old!

  11. 11
    enitharmon on 15 Feb 2015 #

    Old? OLD?

    Flippin’ kids!

  12. 12
    wichitalineman on 23 Sep 2015 #

    Idly pondering the title of Side Saddle, I just read that it was “originally written as a stately gavotte for a TV adaptation of Beauty And The Beast” according to John O’Connell’s very enjoyable blog: https://longandwindingtoad.wordpress.com/

  13. 13
    Gareth Parker on 8 Jun 2021 #

    Charming tune imho. Another 7/10 from me.

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