Russ Conway (2 September 1925 – 16 November 2000) was a British popular music pianist. Conway's piano instrumentals dominated the UK Singles Chart during 1959, including two number one hits.
Conway was born Trevor Herbert Stanford in Bristol, England. He had no formal piano training and spent his early adulthood in the Merchant Navy. He served in the Royal Navy from 1942 to 1948 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal as signalman in a minesweeping flotilla "for distinguished service, efficiency and zeal" in clearance of mines in the Aegean and operations for the relief of Greece 1944 to 1945. He was talent-spotted while playing in a London club, signed to EMI's Columbia label and spent the mid 1950s providing backing for their artists including Gracie Fields and Joan Regan. However, the commercial potential of Conway's unique percussive piano style (which he attributed to a missing fingertip he had severed many years previously with a bread slicer) was too great for him to remain in the background for long. Conway recorded his first solo single in 1957, with the tunes "Roll the Carpet Up" and "The Westminster Waltz".
1959 was Conway's annus mirabilis, with a cumulative total of 83 weeks on the UK Singles Chart. This included two self-penned number one instrumentals, "Side Saddle" and "Roulette", the latter deposing Elvis Presley's "A Fool Such As I".
Russ was the subject of This Is Your Life in December 1959 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews during a recording session at the BBC’s Paris Studios in Lower Regent Street, London.
Conway maintained a chart presence in the early 1960s, and was a fixture on light entertainment TV shows and radio for many years afterwards thanks to his instantly recognisable piano style.
He wrote the music for the West End musical, Mr Venus (with lyrics by Norman Newell), but it was not a success.
His career was blighted by ill-health, and his later life was notable for charity work. He founded in 1990, along with his friend writer and broadcaster Richard Hope-Hawkins, the Russ Conway Cancer Fund and they staged charity gala shows in major theatres that raised thousands of pounds to be donated to numerous cancer charities.
He appeared as himself in French and Saunders' 1994 Christmas special, playing "Side Saddle" in their spoof of The Piano.
Conway, who never married, died on 16 November 2000. Richard Hope-Hawkins gave the main address at Conway's funeral held at the historic St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol. Elton John sent a wreath. In 2001 Hope-Hawkins devised, staged and directed a tribute to Conway at the Colston Hall, Bristol with an all-star cast. The money raised which was £11,000 was donated to St Peter's Hospice, Bristol.