A Personal History of the British Record Business 56 – Tony Calder 3.


Tony Calder and Andrew Loog Oldham

We pick up from where we left off, and I wanted to know about The Beatles’ connection

Who were you working for when you had the publicity for ‘Love me Do’?

Me and Andrew. We had this company called Image. Somebody came to me and said ‘will you just run it (the press release for the single) round, I’ll write it.’ And I said ‘yeah yeah, and we re-wrote itand printed it and did all this fancy press release stuff…”pictures are available from..” And he said “this is going to cost me a lot of oney.” By now, after the lecture from Sir Edward Lewis, I’d understood what homosexuality was…the handkerchief tucked up the sleeve. Never trust a man that’s been knighted, wears pin stripes and has a handkerchief tucked up his sleeve.

We had this company called Image. We had to do it because we had no money. Andrew said ‘we’re going to Eel Pie Island tonight., I remember walking down there and there was this couple necking and you didn’t know which was the boy or the girl. Many years later when I remembered it, I realised it was Mick and Chrissie Shrimpton. Andrew said ‘I’m going to sign the singer.’ I said ‘what do you mean?’ He said,’well, it’s a band and the singer is a star.’ We had an office in Poland Street and another in Maddox Street – we were running from office to office. Then we took Ivor Court: No. 137, then we took 138 as well. We put the Stones’ fan club there – Shirley Arnold. That’s when Mick saw the fan mail for Brian and got very pissed off. Mega fucking…’he gets more mail than me.’ Then there was the destruction of Brian – his mike gets moved, the mike gets switched, there is no mike. He was a pain. We didn’t know anything about management, but it didn’t matter – there were no rules. I’d watched Larry Parnes and thought he was a complete arsehole. This man came into Decca and started throwing his weight around, and I thought ‘that’s not the way to do it’ He came in and was rude to me. I said ‘let me tell you something – I’ve been doing this thing for Billy (Fury) and your attitude is all wrong.’ He said ‘don’t talk to me like that.’ I said ‘I’m telling you it’s wrong. I can pick up the phone and get you into Pat Doncaster.’ I thought ‘I’m not taking this shit from this geezer’ and I said ‘You need those column inches, so don’t give me shit.’ He said ‘I’m sorry – you should meet my friend Joe Meek.’ And that’s how I met Joe Meek. I remember sitting on a bed with those dirty sheets on it – they were grey, the place was filthy. He put his hand on my knee. I never left so quick. I went back to Decca and said ‘I don’t think we should be doing a deal with him. They don’t believe in long-term artists.’ I didn’t know what I was talking about but I just knew they were boys that Joe fancied rotten and were obviously doing the business for him.



Larry Parnes with Billy Fury, and Joe Meek

Brian (Epstein) chased me round the desk one day and I said “watch it or I’ll whack you.” We’d just done the mail out for ‘Please Please Me

(You’ll need to keep up, as these tales switch about!!)

The police came over about Bill Wyman pissing on cars at the gas station. Andrew said it was Mick. ‘Ring the press agency, give a false name and say we’ve got a great story.’ And suddenly we realised that the only way to get press was to have a news story. We got £15 each for the story. Then we knew we were on to a winner. Yeah, this is the way to do press! You’re on £20 a week for an act – you sell a story to the press and make another £15. We sold another one, a duff story on the Stones. We made the front page and got £100 for it, some stupid story. And suddenly the newspapers were printing more and more pop stories, and regardless of what anyone says, Andrew came up with the greatest line ever which fixed the Stones in the public’s mind. ‘Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?’ I think that that was one of the all time classic articles because it distinguished the difference between the Beatles’ and Stones’ culture overnight. We became heroes because of it.

(Agent) Ronnie Simpson said ‘we’re going to Edinburgh tonight – there’s a band that’s absolute crap but they’ll remind you of The Beatles. You’ll sign them but they’re shit.’ There’s policemen holding the kids back down this alleyway. It was like The Cavern all over again. You couldn’t hear the act at all but he said ‘do you love them?’ I said ‘I’ll sign them, I don’t care.’ The manager was Tam Paton. He said ‘Oh I know you, I was in a band. How did you get on with Brian Epstein?’ I said ‘that f*****g faggot, I nearly whacked him.’ So the next week I go back and film them. I show Dick Leahy (then at Bell Records)  and he says ‘I want it.’ so about two weeks later he got Jonathan King to make the first record. By this time Tam Paton is driving me mad. I said ‘Dick, I’m going back to Antigua, buy me out of my share.’ He said ‘don’t do that.’ I said ‘I don’t want to know.’ About five years ago I’m at the Columb d’Or for MIDEM and Dick’s having dinner with George Michael and he says ‘this is the man who brought me the Bay City Rollers.’ I said ‘Dick you did well out of me.’ He said ‘you were the smart one.’ I say – ‘Why?’ ‘You look younger than me – look at my hair, the lines.’ I said ‘but Dick you had the money.’ He said ‘It doesn’t make up for it.’ Tam Paton got done for importuning in a public lavatory. He used to be a potato salesman – the potato lorry was at the top of the Mews, full of sacks!


Brian Jones was a lovely guy. I said to him once : ‘Brian, you’ve got to come into the office; there are three women here who say you are the father of their children.’ ‘No, I’m not.’ ‘Brian, you’ve got to come.’. ‘Alright – send a car.’ I admit the women had combed their kids’ hair like Brian Jones’s. We walk in and and he looks at these three kids, and they’re clones. He looks at these three and he says ‘I don’t know any of them.’ But they looked just like him, the hair the eyes.



Immediate started because we needed more money. We had terrible trouble with Decca with the Stones. All I ever did was take a record company just one step further than they’d been before. Until now they’ve gone so far that they’ve marketed themselves out of the business. £200,000 to put a single in the Top 3. Who’s kidding who? File discounts at 45%. Come on! You’re in business for the retail. However, as I say to people, you find me a commodity where you can spend £2-£300,000 on a promo clip and then you can go and sell the goods, i.e. the album and pre-sell 500,000 copies at £9 a pop. That’s what we call billing, That’s the business that record companies have become. They’re not in the record business anymore, they’re in the billing business. So if you were running Heinz 57 varieties and you could find a great promo trailer for only £300,000 you’d jump at it. Frankly, in that reality, it’s cheap,but in terms of creativity and artists, it’s a crock of shit And when you see new acts – B*witched, Billie – I mean, do me a favour. Where will they be tomorrow? (Well, one became a phenomenal actor!!) And then you get acts like Robbie Williams, who’s probably the greatest artist this country’s discovered in the last two years, managed by two lovely idiots who’ve already over-exposed him, with a company that is so desperate for the billing that they’re bringing out an album a year before it should come out. And they haven’t even got him released in America yet! What did Andrew used to say? ‘America, America.’

I had dinner at Dean Martin’s house and he remembered this from the Tami Show – remember the building opposite Capitol Tower? That’s where we did the Tami Show and we only did it because we needed the money to pay the expenses for the tour. ‘He’s going to be rude to you.’ And he admitted it. ‘I thought you were all faggots.’ The Stones for the first three tours had long hair, and wherever you went in America, if you had long hair, you were a faggot. But we needed the money or we couldn’t leave the country. He said “I was pissed!”



I was living in Antigua and I had an ear infection. The prime minister, Tom somebody, died and Eddy Grant said ‘you’ve got to come to the funeral. I aid ‘I can’t.’ So I called my pal Bobby and said ‘fly me at sea level ‘cos I can’t go up!’ But Bobby left so I phone British Airways and they said ‘Our Tony,  you want to come back tonight? Right!” I only ever went first class from Antigua to Barbados and back again and they used to give me a cheap ticket. I was always known as ‘our Tony’. I was sitting there and the only other people up there are Bob Monkhouse and his wife. He said ‘how are you?’ He brings out this case and he’s making out he knows me, ‘cos the face fits, the whole thing. He says ‘I got this from a guy in the record business’ and I said ‘Oh, which one?’ ‘Andrew Oldham.’ And he opens up the case and it’s done as a pill box. I’m not saying a word. He says ‘You take this one with that, and that with that, and then tomorrow take this with that.’ I said ‘he was my ex-partner.’ I like that!

Next, I manage to drag Tony back to Immediate and then we seem to drift off into Don Arden, Eddie Kassner and more Eddy Grant

Text © David Hughes 2018. Photos from Google search for illustration only.


About dhvinyl

Lifelong obsession with music, 33 years in the music business, 43 years immersed in selling old records, 20 years very happily retired!
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4 Responses to A Personal History of the British Record Business 56 – Tony Calder 3.

  1. Anthony Calder says:

    This is a great read thank you


    • dhvinyl says:

      I assume you must be Tony’s son. I have found a photo of you and your dad with an X-factor contestant, Chloe Jasmine. Would you be happy for me to use it as illustration in a future instalment – there’s lots more to come!


  2. jonathan morrish says:

    david – fabulous. really interesting and what an insight into those days… jonathan


  3. Darran says:

    Hi David, This is fascinating and needful history. I happened upon this site as looking to contact Dick Leahy for a project I am working on on David Cassidy and the Bell Records years, and wonder if you have contacts or know how I might reach him? Any help would be most welcome.
    Many thanks.


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