Winchester Cathedral The New Vaudeville Band


It reached #1 in Canada on the RPM 100national singles charts and shortly thereafter in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100chart. Stephens was a big fan of tunes from the British music hall era (or what Americanswould call “vaudeville”), so he wrote “Winchester Cathedral” in that vein, complete with a Rudy Vallée soundalike (John Carter) singing through his hands to imitate a megaphone sound. Although the song was recorded entirely by session musicians, when it became an international hit, an actual band had to be assembled, with Fontana trying unsuccessfully to recruit the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. The recording is one of the few charting songs to feature a bassoon. The band toured extensively under the tutelage of Peter Grant, who later went on to manage The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin.

The tune went to No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart. It went all the way to the top in the U.S., however, displacing “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Supremes on December 3, 1966. After a one-week run at No. 1, “Winchester Cathedral” was knocked off the summit by the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations”, only to rebound to the top spot the following week. After two additional weeks, it was knocked off the top for good by “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees.

“Winchester Cathedral” topped the Billboard Easy Listening chart for four weeks. Cover records by Dana Rollin and The New Happiness reached no higher than No. 70. The Shadows recorded an instrumental version of this song on their album, Jigsaw.

Singer Rudy Vallée, whose voice and style the original recording imitated, did his own cover of the song in 1967 when he was in his late 60s. (It did not chart.) The Four Freshmen recorded a cover of the song on their 1968 album In a Class by Themselves. Frank Sinatraalso recorded a version of the song for his 1966 album That’s Life. Global sales of the single were over three million, with the RIAA certification of gold disc status.

The song won the 1967 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Recording, despite not being a rock and roll song. An initial long-playing album including the song was issued in late 1966 by Fontana Records, also titled Winchester Cathedral. Stephens received the 1966 Ivor Novello award for “Best Song Musically and Lyrically”.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the song’s release, a new version by Geoff Stephens was released on CD by Signum Classics, sung by members of the Winchester Cathedral Choir. The premier performance of this version was to take place during a Gala Concert in Winchester Cathedral on March 12 to help raise funds for the Cathedral’s Appeal.

14 thoughts on “Winchester Cathedral The New Vaudeville Band

  1. It is a unique and a great song. The New Vaudeville takes credit for the origination of the song. I cannot prove they are not. But, there is an older version .. 1930s maybe…I am certain.

  2. Мy flіp, my turn.? Larry stated eagerly wiggling to get an opportunity to talk.
    ?I think one of the beѕt fɑctor about God is tһat he can beat up the devil as a result of thе satan is
    horrifying and imply and uցly аnd dangerous and ԌoԀ can beat him ᥙp so the devil can?t hurt us like he did these dеmon crammed individuals in Jesus day.

  3. I must say there is no beating up Satan the Devil by God.The conflict the devil has is with man. Winchester Cathedral is a song that ties on with the Winchester Cathedral in England which has a very historical burial conduction. Then the second part of Winchester are the guns that accursed a wealthy San Jose California family being responsible for the numerous deaths that resulted from the Winchester guns. The result was the wealthy gun family met the ghosts who died from Winchester gunshots. Following this story comes a movie whereby the wife of Winchester gun millionaire/billionaire first terribly frightened of the ghosts, gets closer to them as she begins to undrrstand their sorrows and reasons for haunting her wealthy home…she builds more and more rooms so that she can help more gunshot victim ghosts. There is no Larry in either Winchester scenarios or God having a battle with Satan.

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