Tributes after death of Les Reed, the master songwriter who helped pen Leeds United anthem Marching on Together

Les Reed with Leeds United legends from the Don Revie era.
Les Reed with Leeds United legends from the Don Revie era.
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He helped write legendary Sixties tracks such as It's Not Unusual, Delilah and The Last Waltz.

But, as far as Leeds United fans are concerned, Les Reed – who has died at the age of 83 – had an even more noteworthy claim to fame.

Les Reed with Tom Jones.

Les Reed with Tom Jones.

For he was the co-writer of Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!, a song originally released as the B-side to United's 1972 FA Cup final single.

It soon became better known as Marching on Together after taking on a new life as a terrace anthem that has been faithfully sung at Elland Road through the club's various ups and downs of the last five decades.

And today Leeds supporters were among those paying tribute to Les following news of his death.

Writing on Twitter, United fan Susan Smith hailed him for "writing the best song ever", adding: "You will never be forgotten."

Les Reed with writing partner Barry Mason.

Les Reed with writing partner Barry Mason.

Another supporter, @thisiskezla, tweeted: "When we go up, sing it even louder. For Les. He wrote our mantra, not just a song."

There were also tributes from famous music names, reflecting Les's long-held reputation as one of the finest tunesmiths in the business.

Spandau Ballet star Gary Kemp described him as a "beautiful, gentle man" while Mike Batt, himself a multi-million selling songwriter, said he was his "role model".

Renowned lyricist Sir Tim Rice tweeted: "He was [the] composer of countless hits that will live on for years, decades, to come. All his music biz chums will miss him enormously & will never forget his songs, talent & generosity of spirit."

Born in Woking, Surrey, in 1935, Les built his songwriting career after a spell in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a pianist with bands including the John Barry Seven.

He penned Marching on Together with regular writing partner Barry Mason ahead of what is, to date, United's only FA Cup win.

Speaking to The Irish Times in 2014 about the song and its A-side, Leeds United, Les said: "[The club] was delighted with the outcome and, I must say that, on the recording session at Strawberry Studios in Manchester, all of the players came dressed in suits and ties and looked very smart.

“I was very proud of them. They sang well on both sides of the record, which I personally arranged and conducted.

"On the recording, I used the nucleus of the group 10cc, including Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart.

"I’m always so delighted when the Leeds fans strike up Marching on Together.

"Being so far from Leeds, I very rarely get to Elland Road but my visits have always been a joy.”

Les is survived by daughter Donna and grandsons Dom and Alex. His loyal and loving wife, June, died in 2011.

In a statement issued to the Yorkshire Evening Post, his family said he passed away yesterday afternoon in a "room full of love and sunshine".

They added: "We are all so immensely proud of everything Les achieved in his incredible lifetime.

"We know that his name will be remembered for what he did for music and that he will always live through his songs and compositions for the rest of time.

"We would like to thank everyone for their love and support for Les over the years.

"It meant so very much to him and he was so proud that his music affected so many lives."

John Rimington, a retired showbusiness journalist from Rawdon who worked as Les's personal publicist in the 1960s and 1970s, told the YEP: "We remained close friends for over 40 years and I am honoured to have known him."

Marching on Together was released again as an A-side in 1992 with the help of Ian De-Whytell, boss of Leeds music store Crash Records.

It reached the top 50, despite only being available in Yorkshire record shops and the United club store.

The song was also released in 2010 to celebrate Leeds's promotion to the Championship, making it to number 10.