Book review: Key Changes, by Denis King

You may remember the theme of TV children’s classic Black Beauty, if you were a 70s child. Denis King wrote it, as well providing the music for the Army musical Privates on Parade.

In his memoir, Key Changes, which was recently reissued in an updated edition, King takes us from his childhood and youthful family musical endeavour The King Brothers through the ups and downs of a life in music.

This is a book to savour, and hard to put down. There is no attempt to sugar-coat professional disappointments, and a – quite rightly – lack of reticence in celebrating success.

Although, as with all autobiographical works, an index might have been helpful, I enjoyed hearing stories about how the theme of Lovejoy came about, how Maureen Lipman’s solo show Re-Joyce (about the wonderful musical comic Joyce Grenfell) was a success on the stage, and to read about the much-missed quadruple threat Roy Castle.

King’s style is extremely accessible, just like settling down in an armchair opposite an old friend with a twinkle in his eye and a sense of pride in his achievements.

It was a long journey from “Standing on the Corner” (*whistle*) to dinner with a devotedly un-PC Princess Margaret, but each moment is told with the skill of the practiced raconteur.

A life “crowded with incident”, as Lady Bracknell might say, ensures Key Changes is a real page-turner from the start. Whether it is Jack Douglas causing havoc in panto or the politics of creative differences in the rehearsal room of Stepping Out: The Musical, there is much to keep you reading.

This book will take pride of place with other much-loved tomes in my creative arts collection. You can find out more about it at King’s website

LouReviews received a complimentary copy of Key Changes for review.