50 years ago in the Music Industry 4 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

As if the initial “story” wasn’t stupid enough, there had to be a follow up! I am amazed and flattered that David Stark has this cutting in one of his scrapbooks (that’s almost as ego-boosting as getting one name check in Ray Foulkes’s recent book on the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival!!) Well, we all like a little recognition.

 

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50 years ago in the Music Industry 3 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

June 1967 and green in the gills I was sent to Denmark Street to the offices of one Keith Goodwin, former NME news editor and then, Les Perrin apart, the busiest independent PR in the business. The number of times I trooped up those stairs, usually on a Wednesday afternoon for an early feature interview for the next issue…well, there were a lot. Oh, and a classic Keith Goodwin story. He’d blagged a lift off me (I think, or if not I was in the car) to come with me to a club in Luton or Dunstable to see some act or other he was representing. Coming back down the M1 at some speed, he suddenly said to the driver “pull in here”. We stopped on the hard shoulder; he said “I live up there”, got out of the car, scrambled up the bank and was never…no, of course he was seen again, many times!

Anyway, I approached these new No.1 hitmakers with some trepidation. The word was that they not only took their music seriously, but had a silent member, who didn’t play but did write the lyrics. I see I had to call him the artistic director!! I survived my 30 minutes with them, and their song is as fresh today as it was 50 years ago.

 

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50 years ago in the Music Industry 2 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

I was at the EMI archive this morning and there on show was the 50th anniversary “Sgt. Pepper” package, frustratingly sealed but looking very tempting. Is it the most import record ever made? You can answer that in the comments section below! But while many were wondering at the music, your fresh-faced Fleet Street virgin was given the mission  – “Find Sgt Pepper”. Here is my extensive research on the subject with my findings.

N.B. Maybe mercifully, these forays into the past will be influenced by my ability to scan them. Rightly or wrongly I had my five years tenure at 161-166 Fleet Street bound into several volumes, with the result that the scanner has trouble with the bits near the spine. Happily, this is pretty legible.

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Though actually it’s probably too small to read?

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50 years ago in the Music Industry 1 – Disc & Music Echo, 1967-1972

I joined Disc (& Music Echo) one of at least five weekly pop music newspapers in April 1967 after a year in the Gravesend branch of the Kent Messenger, a job I got quite by chance but which was the catalyst to 31 years earning a living from music with no real talent other than an ability to write and get on with people!

Fifty years since Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band made me realise that, as a nurd who kept every copy of the paper while I worked for it, an egocentric look back would be fun for me, if no one else!

So here’s the first by-lined article I wrote for Ray Coleman, back in the days when, in addition to fortnightly interviews with every act whose single was going up the charts, there was the round-up piece. On the basis that you can read it, it’s self explanatory. Happy days on the phone to the golden days of the pop PR.

 

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A Personal History of the British Record Business 43 – Syd Gillingham and Max Clifford 3 and conclusion

Carrying straight on from where we left off last time. I found another photo of Syd and Max – with me at my EMI retirement party in 1998. Read on – there are some controversial comments about The Beatles coming up!!

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Were there journalists who were particularly influential?

Pat Doncaster on the Daily Mirror carried a lot of weight. Before the days of The Sun the Daily Mirror was the major tabloid. Pat had a whole page and I would always see to it that if there was good story, Pat would have it first.

M.C. The people who I remember – it would be a few years later- would be Don Short at the Mirror, Jack Bentley at the Sunday Mirror, Mike Housego at the Sketch. Dougie Marlborough was at the Sketch first, then  the Mail, and there was a guy on the News of the World called Weston Taylor. There were just a dozen or so and that was it. Because Syd had worked out this network of provincials we did tremendously well in terms of cuttings from all these people. Syd built all up at EMI, so when I came into the press office there was a whole network set up ready for us to plug into.

I used to go out to the (Heathrow) airport each Christmas with LP’s because all the photographers out there thought they were forgotten. I also got very friendly with the Chief Customs Officer there, because in those days you could go into the customs hall and see them coming through. The Chief would be there and I’d introduce him to all the American stars and he’d just take them through. I once met L.G. Wood when he was coming back from America and there was the Chief Customs Officer standing beside me. ‘Oh, this is Mr Wood. ‘Oh, hello Mr Wood, just  come through.’ Marvellous. The big danger was that the guys at the airport and the guys out on the provincial dailies thought we were only concerned with the nationals, but that wasn’t true – we got a lot of space from them. I liked L.G. enormously – he was always good to me. If I had any questions I had the right to bypass everyone else and go straight to him. If I was home at night and the first editions (of the morning papers) had gone round the office and someone got on the phone to me about EMI, I would get straight on to L.G.

Did you get support from the company on that? I was told radio was considered more important than press.

M.C. That was the instinct I got, that you (press) had a constant battle with the others and were almost isolated – more tolerated than appreciated.

I tumbled on that very early on in Great Castle Street. We were getting a lot of cuttings. I used to get them all together and compiled a list with L.G. Wood at the top and I made sure they went round to everyone. They had so many cuttings that I think they got pissed off having these full folders. I used to tell my secretary ‘this is a rainy day insurance’ because one day they’re going to turn round and say ‘you haven’t got much press’ and I would reply ‘have you seen all the press we’ve had?’

What about the argument about the cost of editorial versus advertising?

M.C. That’s something I use to this day

But look at the papers and magazines today, not much is devloted to records.

Not reviews, but artists get more good publicity in newspapers than they ever did. What persuaded you to then do it on your own?

Because I had an offer from Chris Hutchins.

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He wanted me to go into partnership with him. I was on one of my provincial tours and I phoned the office from Cardiff station and they said Chris had been on the phone and would I phone him. He was setting up his PR agency and was looking after Tom and Engelbert, Bee Gees – he had a good roster of artists and he he asked if I’d join him, so I thought about and said I would, and I took Max with me and Nick Massey and my secretary – almost the whole bloody office! After I left, Ron White took me out to lunch twice and asked me to go back. I asked Max and Doreen and they weren’t keen to go back, and nor was I. They (EMI) even offered me a car. That was August 1968. We had a year, then I decided to split for reasons I won’t go into. I then went into partnership with Brian Gibson and we went over to Pye for four years. Then I went back to newspapers as a freelance. Max went off on his own.

M.C. Why Syd left, that’s what finished it for me. I didn’t like Hutchins

He had an attitude problem

So when you set up on your own, were you starting with music clients?

M.C. For a long time it was music clients. It was people like Paul & Barry Ryan, which was Harold Davison, which was how Sinatra came along, and Joe Cocker via a guy called Nigel Thomas. I really started out with Harold Davison behind me. Syd was never suited to independent PR – he’s much too nice a guy, and Hutchins was the other way. He was a good little operator but a miserable individual. The company was a success commercially but Syd didn’t like it.

I wanted to get back into journalism. Even at EMI I worked like a journo writing stories.

M.C. Also, your clients were the kind of people who were used to paying peanuts and had you working all the hours God sent doing all sorts of things. You get all the lip service but they’re taking liberties because most of them are like that. PR is the poor relation to the English entertainer. Right from early on I always concentrated on the Americans. PR in the music industry is still miserly. When I hear what PR’s earn from major stars it’s laughable. I’m very glad it’s many a year since I was there – £2,000-£3,000 a month for the Rolling Stones. Max Bygraves phoned me up and said ‘I’ve got as tour coming up and I thought maybe you could do some work for me’. When I told him what I charge he said ‘well, I’ll have to talk to Blossom about that.’ I never heard from him.

I remember you suddenly got involved with American actors like Steve McQueen

M.C. The key to it all was Sinatra. Once Harold Davison got me involved with that sort of situation, he was the man all over the whole (American) area. I also discovered early on that if you had stars you could represent anything…restaurants, clothes. Seve Ballesteros came along and then I tapped into Slazenger’s. I finished up taking over Slazenger’s PR – they had a whole department but they didn’t know what they were doing. Of course, good-looking young Spanish guy winning everything.

Enterprising is the word for him

M.C. Corrupt is the word Liz (Max’s late wife) uses. Those EMI times, it was a much kinder friendlier era.

They were my happiest working times. There was no hassle – we just got on with the job; we got the cuttings and I met all these marvellous people

When I started work as a freelance journalist, I enjoyed that and met some great stars and had some marvellous jobs to do. I went down a Polaris submarine, on a Concorde flight deck, to Bahrain, on the QE2. I interviewed Maggie Thatcher, Elizabeth Taylor, but my ten years at EMI were my happiest. Shortly after I left the Sex Pistols came along and I don’t think I could have coped with them!

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THE classic Sex Pistols photo –  by EMI’s house photographer Peter Vernon who only earned his retainer from this iconic shot, taken in the company’s basement garage

M.C. If I remember rightly you were never excited about The Beatles

I’m still not excited about The Beatles. I still don’t think they had a lot of talent. Song-writing talent – great, But performance-wise I don’t think they were great. Everybody said how great The Beatles were, people who didn’t know B flat from a K sharp. It was hype, and you and I were responsible for the hype.

M.C. Well, no. I’m the first to put my hands up for a multitude of hypes over donkey’s years, but I never saw that. I think The Beatles were responsible for The Beatles and we just happened to be there and went off the back of it.

So how come everyone turned them down?

The Beatles weren’t going to get signed to anyone. It really came down to ‘well, if there’s nobody else, there’s this guy who does the comedy records…’

M.C. I know what you’re saying, but I don’t subscribe to that. I remember thinking right from the start that there was something exciting about this. To me there was something special about them. The rawness was part of the excitement, and it’s not a question of being wise after the event. We also had The Beach Boys’ God only knows at the time, and Cliff was churning them out

We had exciting homegrown singles, but we had great LP material, mostly from America. We had Sinatra on Capitol, Basie, Jazz at the Phil, Ella Fitzgerald. We went to Ronnie Scott’s for a reception for Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd…fantastic days (you can tell where Syd’s music interests lay!)

Were you involved when the Motown Revue came over.

M.C. You would remember better than me Syd. I seem to remember Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson coming over and being introduced to us and then it all started. If I’m right, there was one white guy called R. Dean Taylor. Didn’t Doreen (their secretary in the days when you could call them that!) get quite friendly with Smokey Robinson.

I was in the studios when Cilla Black made her first record. I was used to Nancy Wilson and Peggy Lee…it was awful. I still think it’s awful. I can remember her sitting in the office and Bess Coleman doing her biography. I was in the studio when George (Martin) made the record, and when that voice cracked I thought George would stop and do it again but he left it in, and George was a very nice man.

Bess Coleman

Did it upset you when Brian Epstein started to take the press away from you?

I couldn’t care less. What did upset me when I went into the studios once and Brian Somerville tried to turf me out. I said ‘I’m the press officer here and I’m staying.’ and I told him to piss off.

M.C. There weren’t enough hours in the day to do all that had to be done.

The secret was to think like a journalist.

M.C. The whole point about it is that where we were lucky was that we made it up as we went along. There was never anyone to show you, which suited me fine. The wonderful thing was that you could say they sold 50,000 albums one week, even if it was 5,000 and where could they go to check it? You could get away with it and you did. I didn’t tell Syd because  because he wouldn’t have been happy to know what I was getting up to all the time.

I didn’t know this until tonight – bloody marvellous isn’t it. I trusted you! A lot you didn’t have to make up. Take Mrs Mills, she was a lovely plump lady, marvellous lady. She was in charge of the typing pool in the Paymaster General’s office somewhere up the Tottenham Court Road, and I used to take her to lunch with national newspapermen at the Lyons Corner House near the Dominion and she had a wonderful time and a marvellous laugh. She had lunch out virtually every day and we got the publicity, all because Norman Newell went to a hop one night and she was the semi-pro musician playing piano. Like Don (Partridge), discovered singing on the street. We only got involved once a record had been accepted at the supplement meeeting, and then we had to do the photographs and biogs.

M.C. When I was at EMI it was something that was developing and growing under your feet; it was like a magic carpet that took off. I was just ever so lucky because I went into a framework that Syd had built up, which was very successful. He allowed us the freedom to be irresponsible and as long as it worked it was fine. And it did. The people that you were working with were nice people so we were lucky to tap into a really nice professionally organised situation and we reaped the benefit. I don’t think there were many record companies that had that.

People contrast the industry now with what it was then and that moment will never be repeated.

M.C. It’s not rose coloured glasses. Socially, it was also an exciting time. Suddenly there were clubs and tours starting. When I grew up aged 13-14, on Sunday you went to church and that was it finished, and that started to change, shows and clubs, the whole way of life was exploding.

There was a Monday and Friday radio broadcast recorded in Manchester Square for Radio Luxembourg.

Luxembourg was hugely important

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I went over to Cologne when I was in Great Castle Street. We had a thing called Record Mail for pop and Record Times for the classics. I had to produce that as well. I made it like a tabloid newspaper and I enjoyed doing that. I did all the headings and sub-edited it. We had Dickie Attenborough doing a record column which I wrote and he just okayed. Record Mail was a freebie for shops, and I went out to see Bill Crozier and do a feature on Two-Way Family Favourites. I also went to Luxembourg to do a feature and Pete Murray and David Jacobs met me – they were working at the Luxembourg studios

At which point the conversations petered out and into some potentially libellous comments on the sexuality of well-known individuals!!!

Next time – Jeffrey Kruger, part one of many!

Text ©David Hughes, 2017. Illustrations gleaned via Google search are just to liven up the copy!

 

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A Personal History of the British Record Business 42 – Syd Gillingham & Max Clifford Pt.2

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We left Syd and Max about to launch into some repartee on the late Solomon King…so let’s continue…Syd had suggested ‘She Wears my Ring’ got to No.1.

M.C. It didn’t go to No.1. She wears my ring went to number 3

You would remember because you were so close to him – all I remember is that he was a pain in the arse

M.C. We played some terrible tricks on him because he was so full of himself….’the big three – Tom, Engelbert and me’

Where had Gordon (Mills, who managed all three) found him?

M.C. I haven’t a clue but we got lumbered with him

He wasn’t looked after by Colin Berlin at the beginning, but he took him on after She Wears my Ring.

I expect  that as Tom and Engelbert were both on Decca, EMI said ‘we’d better have this one.’

I don’t think Gordon brought him to EMI did he?

M.C. Did he manage him aferwards? This guy Jack worked at EMI – I never knew him – he introduced himself to me on this cruise; he was a lot older than me, probably 70 or something like that and he said ‘I was at EMI when you were’ and we got talking and he knew you (Syd). He said ‘I was responsible for EMI signing Solomon King’ but how he came to hear him, I don’t know

We’ve had this conversation before and of all the people you’ve worked with, this guy is the one you talk about.

We talk about him all the time – his ears must be burning.

M.C. It was hysterically funny. Don Partridge was a real character. It was an exciting time – Cliff, The Beatles, then later Berry Gordy came across, Smoky Robinson and Motown started up – it was a wonderful time

Gene Vincent came over – he’s talked about in very hushed terms now, but he was a very nice guy. Dinah Washington came over – all the jazzers, Oscar Peterson

Colin Burn said he had to drive everyone around in his Mini.

I can remember Bobby Vee coming over.

Those were the days when you could happily invent stories

M.C. I still do – nothing’s changed!

That’s where he learned it – he’s doing it now all the time.

M.C. I must have learned before then – I hit the ground running. It’s like Don Partridge and ‘Rosie’. The stories I used to make up about this Rosie, this romantic woman. Rosie was a little transvestite who used to be in Soho. He used to run up to you and say ‘I’m Rosie, give us a kiss.’ and run off. That’s who Rosie was when Don was busking in the streets.

 

We used to have some wonderful press receptions. You remember Johnny Preston – Running Bear? We had a bear from Chessington Zoo. The reception was at the 100 Club, downstairs in the basement and we were taking this bear along Oxford Street with a collar – there was people everywhere. We got it down in the basement and some of the guys started feeding it beer and it got pissed.

The Temperance Seven – we hired a camel from Chessington Zoo and I can’t remember the song – Desert something..Sahara? We arranged for a parking space to be kept free in Manchester Square. I came along and we had this bloody camel tied to a meter. All the traffic was piling up and one bloke got out and went to see what was going on. He went back to his car and the guy in the next car said ‘what’s up mate?’ He said’there’s a camel up there’ and the bloke almost hit him.

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Another time I had to go round with seven dwarves – now why was that? They had these marvellous heads that came over from Disney. We found seven little actors and we had Snow White dressed up and we marched these dwarves all the way round London. I remember coming up to Manchester Square. There was a guy walking round the corner and he suddenly came across Snow White and seven dwarves and he never even batted an eyelid, didn’t even look at them; just stared ahead and walked past. The great British conservatism! Then there was Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini when we had a girl in that bikini and took her up and down Regent Street with cameras. Some of the things we got up to were extraordinary.

M.C. There were so many people coming ito EMI all the time. You had all these press releases, so you’d take one out of the drawer, alter a couple of words and put your name at the bottom instead of Brian Mulligan or whoever. I seems to remember we had to write biogs on two or three different people every week.

It was a marvellous business to be in as far as PR is concerned, because you didn’t have to mention the record label. It wasn’t like getting promotion for Shredded Wheat.

M.C. Where we used to win a lot was with the provincials. We did well with the nationals because we had a lot of good people,but because he’d (Syd) always cultivated the provincials, they used to be phoning us.

What we did with the provincials – I didn’t want them to think thet all we were concerned with was the nationals. The provincials were very important. I made sure I went out and visited them.

M.C. He used to go out laden with all the best albums

If we had someone like Bobby Vee coming in, we’d say ‘Right, we want you in the office.’ and we arranged phone calls all around the country. These guys would be tickled pink to think we were putting a star on the phone.

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Bobby Vee – thanks Carolyn, and apologies!!

 

So you hired this guy then? (Max)

I think I advertised for someone. I got a lot of letters because it was the sort of job people wanted.

M.C. No, I’ll tell you how it came about, Syd. I was on the Merton & Morton News – I’d started a record column. You contacted me and offered me a job at EMI. I’d left by then and joined the Croydon Advertiser. I think I joined on the Monday and gave my notice in on the Friday. They said ‘we’ve obviously impressed you! He (Syd) said ‘I know you’re going to be good at damage limitation, so will you come and join us on the understanding that you watch out’. And it worked from day one. That’s how I got involved and that was 1962 when The Beatles were just about to start. I’ve got a picture in my office of me with them on the steps of EMI. It’s my best feature – it’s my back! George Martin and myself on the steps into the garden. I’m guessing that would be about six weeks before Love me do.

That first single didn’t make the impression people now think.

Oh yes, it got to number 2, didn’t it (17, actually)

M.C. I think it got 19. To me the people who were the real stars were the Nat ‘King’ Coles and those kind of people. The Americans got the big star treatment..this Liverpool thing happened of its own volition. Everyone at EMI got gee’d up about them when it started to take off, not the other way around. I do interviews and they talk about The Beatles and they say ‘Oh, so you were in at the beginning’ and I say ‘no, I didn’t do a bloody thing. I was just there and sent out a press release’. They did it and we rode off the back of it. That’s how it was

I was told by Tony Calder that he and Andrew Loog Oldham were doing publicity of The Beatles at the very early stages

M.C. No, I don’t think so. He wasn’t around then

I don’t think they had press people then

You remember the record they made in Germany – My Bonnie lies over the ocean – we turned it down. I think we were getting so much in with all these releases that it was impossible to take in what was going to be big and what wasn’t.

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Final part next time when we move to Max and Syd’s life beyond EMI, and who knows what else! Oh, and if anyone can shed light on who this Jack was who claimed the Solomon King credit…I know we’d all like to know.

Text © David Hughes, 2017. Photos from Google search are for illustration only, Carolyn!

 

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A Personal History of the British Music Business 41. Syd Gillingham (and Max Clifford)

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Syd’s recent death prompts me to bring you an interview conducted in a fish restaurant in Walton-on-Thames with his buddy Max Clifford. Max made his start in PR with Syd in EMI’s Manchester Square offices, and has always acknowledged that Syd taught him everything. After Brian Gibson’s memories of working with Syd post EMI, it seems a perfect link. All the comments are from Syd unless indicated MC

When did you start?

I started on the Surrey Herald in 1941. I went in the air force – went to France Belgium and India and came back to the Herald in 1947-49. Then came the Evening Echo in Bournemouth in 1949-1951, the Daily Telegraph in Fleet Street from 1951-57, and a very unhappy year in a PR agency from 1957-58, trying to figure out what to put in cornflake packets and things like that – an awful job but one of the accounts I worked on was the The Arthur Murray School of Dancing in Leicester Square. That suited me fine; it was a bit more user friendly than the other accounts we had, and I met a guy there called Harry Walters, who was Ted Heath’s band boy. We worked together on something about the School of Dancing. Harry was probably there giving them some records. I had such an unhappy year with this agency that I went to EMI and said ‘any chance of a job?’ It so happened – this was through Harry – that the guy who was the press officer, Doug Geddes, had just handed in his notice, but they didn’t see how someone from the Daily Telegraph would know anything about pop music. I showed them some cuttings from the Telegraph – shows I’d reviewed like Louis Armstrong, Woody Herman ( the first Anglo-American band exchange), Bill Haley. Pat Brand gave me a marvellous reference so I got the job. I had to take a pay cut of £1,000 a year. I told L.G. (Wood) two or three times after that  that I ought to be paying him – I was like a kid in a chocolate factory – with my love of music and all those records. I think I joined on April 1, 1958.

Wally (Ridley) reminded  me – we were talking about Ron Richards and John Burgess who worked with George Martin, Peter Sullivan who worked with Wally, and he said ‘who was Norrie Paramor’s assistant?’ I couldn’t think. It was Tim Rice – I don’t remember that at all. He was Norrie’s gopher.

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Tim Rice and Norrie Paramor

Did you inherit staff in 1958?

Peter Prince was in the press office then – this was in Great Castle Street.

Did this include Capitol?

Capitol was down in East Castle Street. Dolly East was the press officer and Arthur Muxlow started with Capitol. John Philips was the promotion man at Great Castle Street and Harry Walters was his deputy. John was a lovely man but I think the record business made him a bundle of nerves. I used to go to airport sometimes to meet the Americans and John would drive with the radio on full blast. He seemed to be a very nervous man, and he had a heart attack and died quite young. It could have been the job.

1958 was Cliff Richard

Yes, I can remember The Shadows getting their gear into the lift at Great Castle Street and going up to Norrie’s office, and I was in the studio when Cliff made his first record in August 1958

Do you have any memories as to who decided that ‘Schoolboy Crush’ shouldn’t be the A side?

No idea. We used to have a weekly supplement meeeting and I was there for the press office, and the pluggers would be there. We would all go into the various sales managers’ offices and play the demos that the A&R men had made.

There were no marketing men then?

They were sales managers in a way. Ron White was HMV sales manager, Leslie Reynolds was Columbia and Parlophone. They were really the three labels. I dealt with all three and all the America stuff. The first big American star I had to deal with was Connie Francis. She came over not long after ‘Who’s sorry now‘ and then there was just a procession of them

In those days as far as press was concerned there was no such thing as anindependent

Independent PR – Les Perrin.

Do you remember a guy called Al Hunt (I don’t but Google tells me he was Bernard Delfont’s PR). He was the archetypal press agent. He was a big man, everyone’s idea of a press agent. I can remember going out to the airport when the arrivals were right on the A4 – just a glorified large Nissen hut. We met Shelley Berman. Al was representing him in this country – what an objectionable little man he (Berman) was. Shelley Berman was well-known for the aircraft sketch and it was lifted by Bob Newhart. We had this press conference in the Nissen hut and one of the reporters asked Berman some question about Bob Newhart and when we got outside he gave poor old Al Hunt such a bollocking – quite extraordinary. I can only remember Al Hunt and Les Perrin as independent PR’s.

Now the record company press office wouldn’t get a look in

At the airport there were loads of agency and national newspaper photographers. They were stationed there all the time and we used to get a lot of publicity (on people arriving by plane). Now you’ve got to be very big before you get an airport picture.

The world of the media was that much smaller – you probably knew everybody

It wasn’t that so much, but the media in those days was very record conscious – the big features were about records.

M.C. The guys that were the showbiz writers then became the pop writers – Don Short, Mike Housego, Pat Doncaster, Dougie Marlborough, Jack Bentley, Peter Dacre. We always did a lot with the provincials

The provincials were very strong on records. We used to send press releases to all the provincials and I would do a Scottish tour – Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee; then I’d go to the North West and do the evening papers in Blackpool, Preston, Manchester; down to the south, all over the country, Marvellous skive that was for me – I’d do that twice a year.

Brian Mulligan said there was a press release for everything

When we moved to Manchester Square we were producing so many singles – it could be between 25 and 30 a week – and you had to do a biography on every artist. I can remember the embarassing situation when we had the Christmas party in the big No.1 studio at Abbey Road and I had to stand at the door with L.G. and introduce him to all the artists coming in. There would be those whose biography I’d written maybe two weeks earlier and I’d forgotten who they were. That’s how many records there were.

Bunny Lewis said you made two or three recvords and if they didn’t work you said goodbye.

Because Max had been in newspapers, I had been in newspaper and Brian Mulligan was a newspaper man, we could recognise a story when you saw one. We had some great stories among these artists, Mrs Mills was a lovely story as was Don Partidge, the one-man band, great story, discovered singing in the street. There were some tremendous stories.

M.C. We made most of the stories up – well I did!

I first met Russ Conway when he was doing his first-ever summer season at the  St. Anne’s pier south of Blackpool- that was in 1958

Were you working on Cliff Richard’s press all the time?

Yes. Of all the people I can remember working with, not only at EMI, but since, Cliff is the one person who hasn’t changed. He’s got no star mentality about him at all, yet he’s been one of the msot successful recording artists in the world. Every record release he’s had has been a Top 10 or Top 20 hit.

M.C. Not for a long time Syd, but he used to. He can’t get played now. He made a record under a pseudonym and they played that.

But look at his concerts – sellouts. When I went into journalism I did his life story on three different occasions in magazines.

I gather no one looked outside London for artists

M.C. The original tape tape that The Beatles sent to EMI was rock’n’roll and it was turned down.

I can only remember the supplement meeting when they played The Beatles’ first single – Love me do – and nobody round the table – there were lots of us there – leapt about and said these are going to be the biggest things. We were told to get behind the record because Brian Epstein was an important Liverpool record dealer

M.C. My understanding was they submitted a tape of rock’n’roll which was turned down; then they went to Decca with the same tape – that was turned down by Dick Rowe. Then Epstein submitted a tape of Lennon & McCartney songs and they scraped in. I’ll tell you who told me that story – the guy I met on that Caribbean cruise, Jack somebody. He was the guy who first heard or signed Solomon King. I’ve been looking for someone to blame all these years and there we were in the middle of nowhere!

Max and he (Solomon King) were very close. It was Max who was responsible for getting Solomon to the top of the charts. Solomon was very grateful – lent him his car.

solomon-king-she-wears-my-ring-columbia.jpg

We’ll leave these two there – they’re just getting going and the interview turns into a dualogue which will be completed next time…with lots more about Solomon King!!

Text ©David Hughes 2017. Photos courtesy Google search for illustration purposes only

 

 

 

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