Ronald was born in 1910 and in his early years lived with his family in Darby St, Normanton. He worked for a time at Barlow & Taylors in the Market Place. Following the death of his father in 1920 he moved to 29 Wiltshire Road Chaddesden with his mother, brother and sister, where he continued his musical career.
In his early days of playing the accordion with his ‘Ron Binge’s Allegro Dance Band’ he had a serious of mishaps, not least being involved in a motor cycle accident near the Nottingham Road cemetery whilst riding pillion with another musician friend Reg Webster. He managed to escape with minor injuries on that occasion. Unfortunately his accordion didn’t fare so well in later escapades. He lost one instrument during the floods in Derby where he was performing at a restaurant. The following summer he was appearing at the Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth when a fire broke out and he lost yet another accordion.
His luck changed after that and he was engaged to play with such bands as Reg Roney, Emilio Columbo and Don Sesta. He was playing at the Cafe de Paris when he was introduced to Mantovani and subsequently became his chief arranger, in addition to being featured on the piano accordion and the piano accompanying such artistes as Jack Plant and Stella Roberts. He recorded with Mantovani many times but always had the ambition to record with his own combo which was called the ‘Quintet’. He also wrote a musical play entitled ‘Siesta’ in collaboration with a London journalist, Leslie R Frewin. He came back to Chaddesden whilst waiting to be called up and found it a very lonely place with all his former friends already in the forces. His brother had joined the RAF at the beginning of WWII and his sister had married a police officer from Alfreton.
In the post war years he went back to arranging for Mantovani and became well known for his ‘cascading strings’ effect after he arranged his own version of ‘Charmaine’ for the orchestra. This became a chart hit in November 1951, and became Mantovani’s trademark.
After this, Ronnie moved away from Mantovani and composed music for radio, TV and films including a piece called ‘Elizabethan Serenade’ written in 1951 for which he received an Ivor Novello award in 1957.
Another of his successes was ‘Sailing By’ written in 1963 to accompany the weather forecast. He died in 1979 in Ringwood, Hampshire.
Researched by Rita Bailey. Photo courtesy of Derby Evening Telegraph.