Johnny Arthey

Born: September 24th, 1930
Died: October 27th, 2007
Nationality: British

Johnny Arthey started his career as a pianist, but became a much sought-after arranger in the 1960s and 1970s, working with Engelbert Humperdinck, Blue Haze, Joe Dassin, and many more. He wrote the orchestration to hit records such as ‘Eloise’ by Barry Ryan and ‘You can get it if you really want’ by Desmond Dekker. As a producer, he helped Jamaican reggae artists trying to force a breakthrough on the British market. With his Johnny Arthey orchestra, he released a string of instrumental recordings of popular titles. He conducted orchestras for various BBC broadcasts.

In 1970, Johnny Arthey was the musical director of ‘A Song for Europe’, the UK Eurovision heats, in which Mary Hopkin sang all entries. He travelled to the contest final in Amsterdam with Hopkin to conduct her song ‘Knock, knock (Who’s there)’, which came second for the UK behind Dana (Ireland). One year later, Arthey did not have any part in ‘A Song for Europe’ (Norrie Paramor was the musical director), but he arranged the winning song from that competition, ‘Jack in the box’ by Clodagh Rodgers. He conducted the song in the Eurovision final, held in Dublin that year. In 1977, Arthey made a surprise return to the contest as the arranger and conductor of that year’s Luxembourg entry, ‘Frère Jacques’, sung by Anne-Marie B.

In due course, a more extensive biography of Johnny Arthey will be published on this website


Songs conducted
1970: Knock, knock (who's there?)
1971: Jack in the box
1977: Frère Jacques