WHILST singer Sting gets credit for his conservation work, when it comes to songs on that theme, former Pinner resident – the late singer/guitarist/songwriter and eventual broadcaster on Radio 2 and the World Service, Wally Whyton has the edge.
As early as 1969 he wrote, broadcast and recorded a poignant song called Leave Them a Flower for Fontana Records as he didn’t like the thought of his children seeing less countryside. Concrete was beginning to rule where greenery had been.
But the song went further afield as the Scottish Ian Campbell Folk Group also cut a version and American singer Ed Ames picked up on it and scored a minor hit in the US Contemporary Charts, much to Wally’s delight.
Then, in 1972, Wally re-recorded the song in a slight more folksy style as part of an album for Decca’s Argo label which included another conservation song he had written, Broken Bottles, as he didn’t like discarded rubbish on beaches. He was ahead of his time.
Curiously though, he drifted away from writing and performing songs and laid aside his guitar in favour of radio work, in which he maintained a strong presence with country and music until his death in early 1997.
It’s great that a legacy of most of his Fontana work including Leave Them A Flower is still available from Bear Family Records in Hamburg, Germany to this day. What a shame thought that he didn’t get more credit for his two songs on environmental issues at the time.