The acclaimed songwriter behind the 1970s pop ballad “My Dear Lovely One” is another example. Stanley McManus had been an art student at the University of Leeds and roomates with Herbert Tretheway, better known by his later stage name “Cordoba.” Cordoba was in the process of assembling his first musical group, and had approached McManus to draw posters for them. The young student had done so and, in gratitude, Cordoba and his band gave him a blanket pass to their engagements.

McManus, shy and retiring, attended out of a sens of obligation even though he had no real regard for the music. He would bring sheafs of paper with him to doodle on and often composed small poems to women in the audience–things he regarded as doggerel and never actually delivered. After one performance, McManus forgot a stack of poems and Cordoba found them. Intending to return them to his friend, he read them and was inspired to use them as lyrics in a song that the group sang as an encore.

The reaction in the dingy club was ecstatic, and within a month the song was getting local airplay. Cordoba and his bandmates were careful to credit McManus as songwriter and when they were signed by EMI for a self-titled debut album, they signed away a portion of their royalties to him. “My Dear Lovely One” went on to become an international smash, charting at #2 in the UK and #1 in the USA, and McManus was quickly overwhelmed with offers to write songs.

For his part, McManus bitterly resented the circumstance. He regarded himself, first and foremost, as a visual artist and dismissed his poems and other writing as worthless. The notoriety made it impossible for him to sell his artworks or to find a career as a commercial artist after graduation, as prospective employers were all convinced that a “songwriter” couldn’t possibly have the artistic chops they sought.

Though he cashed the royalty checks, and didn’t deign to sue when Cordoba turned more of his poems into hit songs (though once again fully crediting and compensating him), McManus eventually withdrew from the world. He purchased a large country home with his royalties and set out to paint on his own terms. But even there he wasn’t truly isolated: throughout the tumultuous rise and drug-addled fall of Cordoba and his various groups, there was no shortage of fans and aspirant musicians to seek out the “lyrical genius” behind Cordoba’s earliest and best-regarded songs. Even after McManus disconnected his telephone, admirers still found their way onto his property.

An intruder who climbed through his bedroom window in 1987 was apparently the last straw for McManus; he overdosed on sleeping pills and died in his home. Cordoba, long past his prime and mired in a cycle of addictions that would take his own life in June 1990, paid for the funeral and a lavish headstone from his already dwindling funds.

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