Dictionary of Welsh Biography



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PARR-DAVIES , HARRY (formerly DAVIES , HARRY PARR ; 1914 - 1955 ), pianist and composer ; b. at Neath, Glam. , 1914 , son of D.J. and Rosina Davies (née Parr ) . He was educated at Dunraven school , Treherbert and Neath intermediate school . His musical talent became evident when he was a child, and he is said to have composed 30 songs and two operettas before he was 13 yrs. old. Seymour Perrott , the Neath borough organist , provided his musical education, and Sir Henry Walford Davies (see above) urged him to make a career as a classical composer; but light music was more to his taste and he studied the works of Eric Coates and Edward German to perfect his technique. He introduced himself to the singer Gracie Fields and became her accompanist in Britain and on tour in Canada and South Africa . He composed the song ‘ Sing as we go ’ which Gracie Fields sang in the film Shipyard Sally ( 1939 ), and which gave the title to her autobiography; he also provided the music to Phil Park 's words, ‘ Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye ’, which became popular at the beginning of World War II . For his song ‘ Smile when you say goodbye ’ he received an advance royalty of £1000, the highest sum paid at that time for a song. Among his stage shows were Black velvet , The Lisbon story , Her Excellency , and Deaf Miss Phoebe . He composed music for Gracie Fields ’ film, This Week of Grace ( 1933 ), and songs for other performers such as George Formby . He d. at home in Knightsbridge , London , 14 Oct. 1955 , and was buried in Oystermout h cemetery near Swansea .

Bibliography:

  • The Times and Western Mail , 15 Oct. 1955 ;
  • Neath Guardian , 21 Oct. 1955 .

Author:

Dr Rhidian Griffiths, Aberystwyth