He was the pianist who brought joy with his tinkling fingers and his twinkling smile. This attractive combination brought Russ Conway huge success in live concert and on record, and made him one of Britain’s biggest-selling artists of the 1950s and 1960s. From his first chart success in 1957 with a medley of other artists’ Party Pops through to his 1962 hit Always You and Me, Conway spent 168 weeks in the music charts. After leaving school at 14, his father found the young Russ a job in a solicitors’ office, but this ended when he was sent to borstal for three years after stealing some money he found in a packet. He had always wanted to go to sea and, following his release from borstal, his father agreed to send him to a Merchant Navy Training School. He served in the Royal Navy during the war, taking part in minesweeping operations in the Aegean, before returning to the Merchant Navy. He was discharged in 1948 with a stomach complaint and worked as a salesman, machinist, plumber’s mate and barman before another spell back at sea. He became one of Britain’s biggest-selling music artists before The Beatles, chalking up sales of 30 million records, but his career came to a premature halt when he suffered a stroke in 1965. He died in November 2000.