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Thursday, January 15, 1998 Published at 18:56 GMT


Stars gather to remember the Master
image: [ Sir Noel Coward, who died in 1973 ]
Sir Noel Coward, who died in 1973

Streets in Central London were brought to a standstill on Thursday night as a host of star names gathered to help launch a charity album remembering the songs of 'The Master' Noel Coward.

[ image: Sting is also a Noel Coward admirer]
Sting is also a Noel Coward admirer
Sir Elton John joined Sting and Suede at the concert, which coincided with a new album recorded to commemorate the centenary of the songwriter and playwright, which is in two years' time.

The concert was organised by Neil Tennant, one half of the Pet Shop Boys, and also featured Robbie Williams and Marianne Faithfull. The record, Twentieth Century Blues, will be released in April, when the concert will also be broadcast.

Charity fundraiser

Actors Ned Sherrin, Nigel Hawthorne and Imogen Stubbs also made guest appearances.

[ image: Sir Elton John among those to pay tribute]
Sir Elton John among those to pay tribute
Money raised will go to the Red Hot Aids Charitable Trust, set up in 1992 to channel funds to HIV/Aids prevention projects in this country and abroad.

Generations influenced

Neil Tennant said Noel Coward had influenced generations of British musicians, from the Beatles to Britpop.

"The Beatles, when they started, were in the showbusiness tradition, because Britain did not have rock and roll. John Lennon used to go to parties at Alma Cogan's flat and chatted to Noel Coward.

"Bryan Ferry virtually modelled his image on Noel Coward."

He said it had been important to give the songs a contemporary feel without losing Coward's spirit.

"Some tribute albums have done things like rap versions that bear no resemblance to the original. Twentieth Century Blues is quite a convincing jazz song, and his ballads are very beautiful without being slushy."

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