Sunderland teacher wrote hits for Dusty Springfield and The Hollies

Clive Westlake wrote songs for Dusty Springfield.
Clive Westlake wrote songs for Dusty Springfield.
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The 1960s was a great era for British pop music.

Dusty Springfield, The Hollies and more were great names of the times – a time when British music was answering the American flood of star names.

Clive Westlake, who wrote hits for the stars.

Clive Westlake, who wrote hits for the stars.

But how many people know who wrote some of the hits of those days?

How many of you knew that one of the writers was a teacher at Ryhope Grammar School?

Hits such as Here I Go Again by the Hollies and All I See Is You by Dusty were the work of Clive Westlake.

He was a Welshman who taught in Ryhope from 1956 to 1959 and was head of the music department for that period.

We traced details of him in an archive interview which featured in our sister paper, the Northern Daily Mail, in June 1968.

We caught up with him that year at a timely moment in his career. It happened at the time when Clive had already written a few hits but was about to go into singing for himself.

As our story said in 1968: “For those who never related that Clive Westlake of pop fame with the same unassuming man who taught at Ryhope this will probably come as a surprise.

“For those who know Clive and list themselves as admirers comes the further news that he has now turned singer and his first solo singer.”

As a writer, the hits just kept coming for Clive. Losing You was another Dusty track.

What Am I To You was one he created for Kenny Lynch.

His talents extended to film themes as well, such as Live Now, Pay Later, Comedy Man and Just For Fun.

In fact, Clive’s life always had a touch of the magical about it. After all, he was born on Christmas Day in 1936, in Wattsville which is in Monmouthshire.

His father was a coal miner who didn’t want his son to follow him into the pits.

After much discussion, a career in music was decided upon.

Clive told the reporter in 1968: “My father said, however, that if I got a degree in music, I could feel free to follow any career I wanted after that.”

He turned to music writing because he loved it, he freely admitted.

“I don’t consciously write a hit song. All I See Is You, Dusty’s big hit, had been lying unfinished in a drawer for months before I completed it.

“It was a pure fluke that it happened at all.

“Dusty’s manager came into the office one day and wanted a follow-up to You Dont Have To Say You Love Me.

“I gave him a sketchy outline of All I See Is You. He loved it.

“But it meant me sitting up half the same night to finish it in time for Dusty’s next recording session.”

He learned the business the hard way. “When I first started, things were pretty tough for British writers,” he admitted.

“Then it was all American music and the British boys hardly had a chance.

“I think we can thank The Beatles for the breakthrough.”

His first hit was Here I Go Again with the Hollies.

“I was chuffed out of my mind. I made a fortune on B sides for years, but this was my first big break and the first song that really brought me recognition.

“When it started zooming up the charts, I could not believe it. Then of course I wanted a number 1 and I just can’t rest until I get it.”

His own first song was called 100 Days and he said he did it as “a giggle”.

He added: “I am not a singer, though I must admit that I sometimes feel that I can interpret my songs the way I feel they should be sung.”

Not only was Clive the singer of 100 Days, he wrote the song.

He also arranged the rhythm section, produced the record, conducted the orchestra, played the piano and did the vocal backing.

Our report at the time said: “Whatever happens to it, the record will help to give those Ryhope pupils (past and present) something to talk about.”

Who remembers Clive and who can tell us more about him? Contact Chris Cordner by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk