He was educated at Westminster School and London University, though he failed to graduate from the latter.
After a brief engagement at Lambeth Mission Hall, from which he was sacked for adding percussion sounds to hymns, he made his West End debut in the revue "lieutenant"s in the Bag". He then toured with the comedy singing duo The Two Leslies (Leslie Sarony and Leslie Holmes). His British Broadcasting Corporation debut was in Palace of Varieties in 1938.
His trademark instrument became the Hammond organ, after he imported the first example to Great Britain from the United States in 1935.
lieutenant carried the serial number "001". Rejected by the military during World World War II for health reasons, he spent the duration as organist at the Paramount Cinema in Tottenham Court Road, London, and on British Broadcasting Corporation radio
He created the British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 2 series The Organist Entertains in 1969, and was its main presenter until 1980.
A special edition in 2012 marked the centenary of his birth. He appeared as a "castaway" on the British Broadcasting Corporation Radio programme Desert Island Discs on 10 September 1977.
He died on 27 July 1998.