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.

Disc June 10, 1967.jpeg

Though actually it’s probably too small to read?

Posted in A Life in Music - random memories, Stories of the British Music Business, Uncategorized, Vinyl memories - the cub reporter | Leave a comment

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.

 

Disc May 27, 1967.jpeg

 

Posted in A Life in Music - random memories, Stories of the British Music Business, Uncategorized, Vinyl memories - the cub reporter | Leave a comment

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!!

Syd Gillingham and me 2.jpeg

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.

61HWQCGO1FL._UX250_.jpg

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!

10336793_1147075498645770_3720919078395375638_n.jpg

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

friday-spectacular-flyer.jpg

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!

 

Posted in A Personal History of the British Record Business, Life at EMI, Stories of the British Music Business | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

C_67_article_2122463_body_articleblock_0_bodyimage.jpg

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.

IMG_2757.jpg

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.

bobby_vee_picture578x723boomers.jpg

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.

1962-Rec-Retailer-ad-Sepia.jpg

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!

 

Posted in A Personal History of the British Record Business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

445630297.jpg

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.

220px-Tim_Rice_-_1981.jpgmw58790.jpg

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

 

 

 

Posted in A Personal History of the British Record Business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Personal History of the British Record Industry 40; Brian Gibson Pt. 2 and conclusion.

We left Brian in the thick of his days at Decca Records where he was their press officer from 1966-1969 and was talking about the large studio staff on the payroll. This somewhat longer portion concludes my interview with him at his home in Worthing. Oh, and I found a photo!!

Brian Gibson.jpeg

This is, as you’ve worked out, a gold disc presentation to Diana Ross, probably in 1980. left to right, it’s me, dear departed Chris White, Noreen Allen, Diana, James Fisher, a lad who worked with James(?), Karen Spreadbury, Chris Marshall,  sadly also no longer with us, Brian Gibson and Peter Prince. Kneeling is front is Les Spaine

That (the large studio staff)probably explains why so much repertoire was released, to justify all their costs

I found it difficult to come to terms with the music side, the covers (British artists covering American hits) were still going on. I couldn’t understand why people were doing covers. I liked good melodic stuff, Sinatra, the swing era and I love great classics. But I used to enjoy the one-offs that came Decca’s way, like The Fortunes, a fun sound. A lot of those Decca records were fun. The Deram stuff was way ahead of its time. I worked with Cat Stevens with Mike Hurst and Chris Brough, and Wayne Bickerton was there with The Flirtations. There was a very wide selection of material on Decca.

L-31676-1228906009.png.jpg

I used to write press releases and follow up with the nationals. I did a special on Mantovani for the News of the World, sending records for export to America, (we got) a big picture in Southampton with Mantovani and George Elrick. Jack Bentley had a weekly record spot in the Sunday Pictorial (was it?) and he would phone me up on a Thursday ad say ‘have you got  a record I can feature and would you write it for me?’ I worked a lot with Les Perrin who was the doyen of PR’s and looked after so many of the big names:- Rolling Stones, Tom and Engelbert. I didn’t have much to do with them from the press office. Gordon Mills didn’t want Decca doing the press, Chris Hutchins had The Rolling Stones – those kind of artists I didn’t have much to do with. I remember Gordon coming into the office saying ‘we’re changing the name of Gerry Dorsey; we’re going to call him Engelbert Humperdinck’. I said ‘you are joking, aren’t you?’ He said ‘no, we’re going to have a try.’ He won a song contest at Knokke-le-Zoute. But The Moody blues were a great band to have – they were very happy to let the press office look after them. Justin Hayward was a nice guy, so was Tony Clark who produced them.

jones-mills-humperdinck.jpg

Tom Jones, Gordon Mills and Engelbert Humperdinck

Were managers the sort of power they now seem to be

They were very keen on their artist succeeding. Marion Massey, Lulu’s manager, she was a dynamo. She dealt with Les Perrin. Andrew Loog Oldham, whom I met long before the Stones when I was at Australian Consolidated he was doing publicity on a film. Amen Corner had Don Arden – he was OK to deal with. Mel Collins was a forceful manager – can’t remember who he had.

BBS STN MAR 2010 008.jpg

Marion Massey and Lulu

Are we now at the period when Jonathan King claims he was effectively running Decca for nothing?

He came in as an advisor – he knew Sir Edward. He didn’t interfere with what I was doing. He wasn’t running the company but he was making contributions. Tony Hall was agin me because he liked Sue Hallward (?) who was the press officer  and the old man (Sir Edward) wouldn’t give her a job. I later married her and she went to CBS and worked there under Olav Wyper. I bump into Tony in Brighton from time to time

What prompted the move to Pye?

Syd Gillingham phoned me and asked if I’d go over to Maddox Street to see them. I knew Sid socially. He’d left EMI and set up with Chris Hutchins, Max Clifford and Nick Massey. Syd said ‘we’ve got Pye Records’ because Pat Pretty had left – she married Leslie Mallory who’d been on the News Chronicle when I was there – he must be in his 80’s now; he’s still alive and living in Ireland (Leslie died in March 2006). The Pye press office wasn’t being run very well. Syd had been recommended to Louis Benjamin by Geoff Bridge – he’d been at EMI and then joined Pye – and Syd said ‘we want you to look after Pye exclusively’. Syd and the others still had Frankie Vaughan, Rolf Harris, the Bee Gees and others. So I took on Pye, working with Syd and Chris in Maddox Street. I used to go up to the Pye offices in Great Cumberland Place to check on things, usually with Geoff Bridge and they gave me an office there. Benjy (Louis Benjamin) said ‘why don’t you move in here – we’ll charge you a nominal rent and you can have a drinks cabinet as well!’ Chris decided he wanted to go with Tom and Engelbert because America was opening up for them. So Chris pulled out and Syd said ‘we’re left with Val Doonican, Frankie Vaughan, Rolf Harris and Pye Records, we can move into ATV House – Pye will give us some space there’. Max had gone – he was looking after Paul and Barry Ryan. After a while Syd decided he wanted to get out and take Frankie, Rolf and Val with him. So Benjy said to me ‘why don’t you come onto the staff – it’ll make things simpler.’

PYEBW.jpg

I met Sir Edward Lewis only a couple of times and he would call me Mr Gibson, and that was it. There was no contact/ But I remember Benjy saying ‘if you want to come and join me I want you to call me Benjy.’ We got on from day one – he was a fair boss. I took over the press office on my own. Precision Tapes was formed and I took them on; then Geoff Heath asked me if I would look after ATV Music (Pye’s music publishing company) .When Geoff left, Peter Phillips asked me to continue. I used to go to MIDEM every year for ATV Music, but never for Pye.

RayDonn-BillyMarsh-LarryGrayson-LouisBenjamin.jpg

l-r: Ray Donn, Billy Marsh, Larry Grayson, Louis Benjamin

How do you do press on a publishing company?

Through Record Retailer, Billboard and Cashbox. When ATV signed Neil Diamond it made a good story. When rumours were rife in Cannes about ATV being sold, I said to Rodney (Burbeck, then Music Week editor) ‘It’s not going to be sold’ and it made Music Week and MIDEM News. ATV was probably the only music publisher to make use of a publicist. I think EMI did through Kay O’Dwyer, but that’s what I did and I enjoyed working for TV music. I was at MIDEM one year and Peter phoned me up. It was the year after we won Eurovision with Save your kisses and he said ‘Tony Hiller (producer of the Brotherhood of Man hit) has a suite at the Carlton but he’s staying with friends and It will be empty for three days – why don’t you check in there?’ I remember signing at the desk at the Carlton and Walter Woyda was behind me and said ‘What are you doing here?’ I said ‘I’m staying here in Tony Hiller’s suite’ and his face was a picture! I stayed there for a week because Tony phoned halfway through and said ‘you can stay there because I’m happy where I am’. It was the year that Dick Leahy was there – I think that would have been 1977.

I stayed with Pye until it all finished in 1981, when the whole ATV thing had collapsed. A real power battle at the top had been going on while I was there – Derek Honey, Benjy and Jack Gill. Peter Philips called me into his office in Bruton Street before I went to MIDEM for the last time. He said ‘look, you’re coming to MIDEM but when you get back you’re going to be fired – I thought I’d tell you.’ I met Honey at the Carlton and he said ‘come up and have a drink.’ And I said ‘ is it true I’m going to be fired?’ He said ‘well, we’re making some changes.’ Peter had said to me ‘don’t worry. When you get back you’re going to be with Jack Gill and myself. Louis is going to go sideways and Jack’s going to take over.’ When I got back from MIDEM a battle had broken out between Jack and Benjy. There was a vote and Holmes -a-Court had come in.

robert-holmes-a-court.jpg

Robert Holmes-a-Court

Before this happened they had formed Chips Records and I moved out of Pye and into an office in Upper Brook Street with Jack, Eric Hall, Peter Summerfield, Terry Brown and Les Cocks. This was going to be the start of the new regime. Derek Honey and Trevor Isles were banished down to the basement, the studio. Benjy’s days were numbered. Jack was determined to clear the place out, get rid of the guy who ran the film division in America who had been costing a fortune. The Lew Grade Titanic losses had started to mount. Jack went out there and said game was up; it was all going to finish. Then Jack went on holiday, there was a board meeting and there was one vote (majority) against Jack, and he was out and Holmes -a-Court came in. We were all out. By then Pye had become PRT. I think they lost the rights to the Pye name in about 1979-80. Pye of Cambridge owned the logo and the rights to the name, and ATV had purchased 49% initially to get into it. When they renegotiated, Pye of Cambridge wanted a lot more money for them to have the name and they said no. So they decided to call it PRT. I stayed with that until I left and effectively moved in with Jack Gill. I left Pye on the Friday and Jack said ‘when you come in on Monday there’s an office for you on the fourth floor. Mike Evans is running Chips Records for me.’ So I can back into the same building. Then Jack said ‘I want you to work on the TV series The House of Hammer on location in Buckinghamshire.’ So I went up there once a week to take journalists and do publicity on the series – that was 1981, one of the best summers of my life.

Philips, Decca and Pye have all gone. Pye was a great little company

It was a good ‘people’ company/ Benjy had this ability of getting the right people around him. He wasn’t a record man – he was a theatre man to his roots, but he had a good team – Monty Presky, Tom Grantham, Les Cocks – and you’d do things for Benjy you wouldn’t do for other people, because he had a good human touch. We went through a great period when we had Save your kisses , Donna Summer, Barry White.

I remember the Lonnie Donegan/Joe Brown era. Petula Clark was the formation of the label?

Polygon with dear old Alan (A) Freeman. Alan formed Polygon.

petula_alan_freeman.jpg

Chess and Wand, Dionne Warwicke, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley – they had beaten off Decca and EMI to get this great American repertoire.

Benjy was a good deal maker. The American labels came he because he got results. He’d get artists when they came to the Palladium and we’d make albums and singles.

Les Cox produced some of those recordings – it was a huge scoop to get the Reprise label.

He could negotiate with the Americans – there was no stuffiness about Benjy.

There were a few strong characters in that company – not as remote as Lockwood or Lewis

I was invited into the executive dining room – that was quite a privilege. I think you paid sixpence extra for waitress service.

It was a different era

Sir Edward wasn’t interested in records – he was interested in cricket. He would go to Australia for six months of the year following the cricket. I remember going up to see him in his office and (Bill) Townsley said ‘Sir Edward wants to see you about this Rolling Stones cover.’ It was the one with a lot of graffiti on the wall.

720x405-rollingstones.jpg

Townsley stood behind Sir Edward and said ‘This is Mr Gibson, the press officer.’ and Sir Edward said ‘the sleeve with the graffiti, what do you think of it; do you think it’s alright?’ and I said ‘yes sir, I think it’s fine.’ and that was the end of it!

Townsley was an old style shop foreman. Very old fashioned figure – he didn’t understand the record business; he huffed and puffed a lot. An affable enough man, and he gave Ron Richards a job as record producer because he met him over the garden wall.

I started on The Embankment and then we were transferred to Great Marlborough Street in 1967-8 and Tony Hall was there. We decided to move the press and promotion department to the marketing area in Great Marlborough Street. Decca recorded the Playboy bunnies at West Hampstead studios. (and as this picture shows, there was even a follow-up!).

8092f74506f37b0646d837172bba8994.jpg

Decca.jpg

Decca’s West Hampstead recording studios, now the home of the ENO

We threw a party down there and Ivor Raymonde, whose wife ran the Ivor Raymonde Singers, got the Bunnies on stage and I organised the press. They couldn’t sing to save their lives, but the Ivor Raymonde Singers were on the other side of the stage and it was they who were being recorded! They sold it at the club and we all got made members!

The importance of an orchestra leader/producer

And the arranger. Ivor Raymonde was staff – they all were in the early days. When I joined Pye, Tony Macaulay and John McLeod had left and they had no house producers. They had had them – Cyril Stapleton, Joe/Jack Dorsey who produced the 101 Strings’ albums. That was a clever concept – it wasn’t 101 musicians, just 101 strings…25 musicians with four strings each!

When I left Pye a did a stint at BBC Records for about 18 months and then went back to journalism, and did some PR for Georgie Fame. I had met him at a reception for Yeah Yeah back in 1962-3 and then we bumped into each other in the Pye studios when he was making an album with Marian Montgomery. Peter Summerfield said ‘why don’t you put together a Georgie Fame album?’ I went down to Georgie’s farmhouse in Wiltshire – he was a squirrel and kept everything – and talked about doing a book of his life, and met his wife Nicole who later tragically killed herself, jumped off a bridge in Bristol. We had dinner that night and Georgie said ‘Brian’s going to write the book – do you agree? Tim Rice’s company, Pavilion, are interested in it.’ And she said ‘Oh yes, whatever you want, Fame.’ She always called him Fame. We sat up until two in the morning, drinking quite a lot of wine, going over records. He showed me contracts from Larry Parnes  and said ‘Larry used to charge us bus fares. He wouldn’t give us money, we had to get around on buses and trains’ – he was a fund of stories. I put together an album with him which Connoisseur issued. Never got round to doing the book (I know the feeling!) but there’s one there. There’s a lot of things he won’t talk about, like the break-up of the Marchioness of Londonderry’s marriage. (When I went) I asked a milkman “do you know where Mr Powell’s house is”. He said ‘Oh, you mean Georgie Fame?’ He had this bloody great farmhouse, a huge house and a stable block which was his office, where his organ was and his files, cases of stuff his father had kept for him. Mike Hennessy was also going to do a book and gave me his taped interviews – some lovely stories about Billy Fury and the Blue Flames

I remember a package show which was all Larry Parnes acts

I went to a couple of those for ‘Disc’ Went down with Larry to interview Fury.

Went to Billy’s 21st birthday party- that was the first time I met Ray Coleman. When I was working from Upper Brook Street, Anthea, Les Perrin’s secretary said ‘I’m working for Dave Clark – can you come up and see him in Curzon Street.’ Dave said he was going to American for a year – a tax thing – and wanted his name kept in the papers. He was after John Travolta for ‘Time’. He used to phone me and ask me if the money was coming through alright!

And there the interview sort of petered out…… Brian was a fine, honest, straight down the line sort of guy, no airs or graces, a jobbing journalist who drifted into the music business but kept his sense and sensibility. I know another one of those!!

Next time I’ll (maybe) tackle a joint interview with Syd Gillingham,  another PR doyen, who died recently, and his longtime friend Max Clifford! Let’s see what that throws out!!

Text ©David Hughes 2017. Photos sourced from the web for illustration purposes only

 

Posted in A Personal History of the British Record Business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Personal History of the British Record Industry 39 – Brian Gibson Pt.1

For Those who may not know Brian’s history, here is the 2003 obituary from the UK Press Gazette.Sadly, despite much web trawling, I can find no photograph of Brian.( I know there is one of him with Motown staff around 1977, if anyone can find it)

Brian Gibson: record company press officer and Brighton Argus journalist

Brian Gibson, who combined a life in journalism with his love of music, film and theatre, has died at the age of 65.

Brian was the main advertising and feature writer of Argus Property, the property supplement of The Argus, Brighton, until his retirement in May.

Working for Newsquest in Sussex was his final full-time job in a career which saw him mix with pop, theatre and film stars and gain friendship and respect everywhere he worked.

Brian died of heart failure at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, on 4 February after being treated for throat cancer diagnosed in November.

He had been looking forward to retirement at his Worthing home with his partner, Pam, and continuing his friendship with many showbusiness friends.

One of his closest friends was actor Chris Ellison, who plays DS Burnside in the TV series The Bill.

Ellison, who visited Brian in hospital days before his death, said: “I have lost a friend and a source of great knowledge. We spent many hours together. He was such a wit, who lived such an interesting life. He was a great guy and great company. Mention any name from the Sixties and Seventies and the chances are that Brian would have met them. I am in deep shock. It is terrible he has died before he could really enjoy his retirement.”

Brian joined the Leader, the sister series of The Argus, as a freelance reporter at the old Argus House in Brighton, in 1987. He moved on to The Argus as a full-time writer two years later.

He wrote many showbusiness features and a weekly eating-out promotion in the Leader.

Brian’s journalism career started in Fleet Street in 1952 at the Evening Star and News Chronicle. He got his first job as an office boy by going into the reception areas of the main newspapers and asking if there was any jobs available.

Having gained as much knowledge as he could about the newspaper business, he became a reporter at the London bureau of Frank Packer – the father of Australian media magnate Kerry – where he had his own column. He also began to write about the pop scene for Disc and Music Echo.

He became the chief press officer at Decca Records at the time of the Sixties explosion in the pop scene and was responsible for promoting bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Moody Blues.

He then became group press officer of Pye Records at ATV House near Marble Arch, where he loved to entertain journalists from the bar in his office.

He became known as “Dr Gibson” because of the copious amounts of alcohol and free records dispensed.

He was responsible for looking after the PR for artists such as Max Bygraves, Des O’Connor and the pianist Russ Conway, who also moved to Sussex and kept up his close friendship with Brian.

He later worked for Georgie Fame, Tamla Motown Records and many small record labels before joining The Argus.

John Deighton, former showbiz editor of the Sunday People, a close friend who regularly used to commute to London with him said: “Gibbo was a very amusing and amiable man. I took him as my guest to a Mirror Group function recently and Brian knew more of the people there than I did.

“It is a great shame. I and many others will miss him terribly.”

Rowan Dore

 

How did you start?

I was working for Australian Consolidated Press, Frank Packer’s news agency. Then I saw an advert for a freelance writer for Disc. Alan Walton was the editor then. I applied and got the job, working in tandem with ACP. ACP was at 107 Fleet Street and Disc was 161. I freelanced for Disc for about five years until Ray Coleman replaced Alan. I was doing pop interviews – myself and Dick Tatham were the freelancers. But when Ray came in, he didn’t want freelancers  and Dick and I got the heave-ho. I think Don Nicoll was freelance there as well. While at ACP I met Chris Williams who was press officer at Decca Records. I used to go Decca receptions and Chris phoned me up one day and said that a guy who’d gone for the job at Decca to replace him was someone from the aircraft industry, didn’t understand the music business and was making a complete mess of it. Why didn’t I apply? I said I didn’t know anything about PR and Chris said ‘oh, you’ll easily do it.’ So I wrote to Beecher Stephens who was then head of Decca under Ted Lewis, working with Bill Townsley and Colin Borland. I applied out of the blue asking if there was any chance of a job going, knowing full well there was.This was in 1966. Beecher Stevens hired me and I stayed there until 1969

Howe long had you been writing about music for Disc?

Since 1961-2. I was writing pop stuff for Australian Consolidated. I joined them as a tea boy from the London Evening Star where I was also a tea boy. Then I was working in the telephone room and the phone used to ring and someone would shout ‘copy boy’ and I used to race copy through to the newsroom. One of the guys on the news desk at the time, Jimmy Green said to me ‘look, this company’s going to be sold – you want to get out if you want to do something.’ Sure enough, the Cadbury Brothers sold the Star and the News Chronicle, and I saw an ad for an office boy for Australian Consolidated and went there. I really got started when I said I wanted to write. Neil Kelly was the news editor then and he sent me out on a job at a church in the Strand and I managed to get something in the paper. They said ‘you’ve still got to be an office boy but you can write as well.At AMC I wrote for the Sydney Daily  and Sunday Telegraph and had a column in a magazine called Everybody’s, called ‘From London to Liverpool.’ which ran from 1962 to 1965.

pikthrf99uathtfp.jpg

Australia was pop hungry but the only people who had been there were Winfred Atwell and David Whitfield – people who had come to the end of their careers here. Of course when The Beatles broke through, that really opened the door.

Did you get to talk to these people through the record companies?

The press officers of the companies were the ones who controlled it. There were a few independents like Brian Somerville, but mostly you went to people like Syd Gillingham at EMI, Pat Pretty at Pye, Chris Williams at Decca and Annie Ivil at Philips. Artists didn’t have PR representation to the extent they do now. Sometimes you’d go through their agent – I got to know them well and I liked that side of the business. But the record companies used to push their artists largely through the press office.

There was so much coming out each week

There was a regular pattern of singles every week and LP’s every month. You’d write a lot of press releases, send them out – the provincials were a valuable ground for getting publicity – and the record company press officers did work very hard on the artists.

Was there a pecking order? I’d have thought working for an Australian agency would have been bottom of the list.

I had a good column in London to Liverpool and bear in mind I was also in tandem with Disc . They both knew of each other so I was getting a good measure of interviews which benefited both companies. Alan (Walton) would sometimes come up with ideas and sometimes I would. If an American artist was in town he’s send me along to interview them. He sent me to interview Bing Crosby. It was the only interview that Bing Crosby gave to a music paper and he agreed to do it at Claridges. Alan phoned me and said ‘can you get to Claridges in half an hour and see Bing Crosby for us?’ I did and it was one of the great moments for me.

Alan also came up with a idea around Marty Wilde who was running out of hits. Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn were in London to launch the Reprise label and Alan said ‘why don’t you phone them up and say ‘could you write a hit for Marty Wilde?’ I think I found them through the Savoy Hotel press office and went to interview them which was a great thrill and they said “yes, we could write a hit for Marty Wilde, we could write a hit for anyone’ They mixed me a very lethal dry Martini. I’d never had a dry Martini in my life and I knew it when I left the hotel. They gave me an autographed copy of High Hopes – it’s a real treasure. Great guys. Alan would also come up with ideas about jazz, like inventing a war between Chris Barber, Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball. Disc was a good paper, in competition with NME but very different.

maxresdefault.jpg

The record companies were always having receptions..

You could go the two or three receptions a day in those times, and they were very lavish. One I went to which Decca threw for Sonny & Cher at the Hilton – they had an iced horse as a centrepiece. That was the first time I met Jonathan King. The nationals used to flock to them; you had people like Pat Doncaster, Don Short, Weston Taylor of the News of the World, Tom Merrin of the Mirror and Mike Housego from the Sun, Dougie Marlborough – a whole pack of them. They didn’t interview the artists at these receptions – sometimes you got future interviews – but they were basically goodwill gestures to the Americans who’d come in and were having a bit of success. Kind of celebrating the hits. You’ve got to remember that the record companies here were only licensing the product from America, so they were anxious to do their best to keep them (the American labels) before they set up on their own (in England).

Did the little independent labels have any impact?

Not really – Joe Meek went through Decca, didn’t it? Jeff Kruger’s label (Ember), Oriole, Saga (Monty Lewis), Woolworth’s Embassy…there weren’t many independents. At Decca we had Coral, Brunswick, London, RCA, Monument. When I was at Pye we had 20th Century, Buddah, Stax. EMI had a huge roster of American labels.

You were at Decca from 1966-1969

We had Tom Jones, Engelbert, The Stones, plus the American stuff. Bob Angles looked after RCA, Geoff Milne looked after some of the American labels. A lot of in-house hits like Los Bravos’ Black is black and Whistling Jack Smith, who was dreamed up in the studio by Noel Walker and Ivor Raymonde. I remember it (I was Kaiser Bill’s batman) being brought into the A&R meeting and someone saying they’d been playing around in the studio and come up with this, what shall we call it? And Tony Hall said Whistling Jack Smith after Whispering Jack Smith.

A-340211-1375447468-6702.jpeg.jpg(real name John O’Neill)hqdefault.jpg

Decca had the West Hampstead studios. They used to record the jazz stuff through the pub next door; they bused to trail the cables from the studio into the pub. Gus Dudgeon was a Decca producer then. When I was there the house producers were Tony Clarke, who did The Moody Blues; Noel Walker who sis The Fortunes with Ivor Raymonde; Dick Rowe who did The Bachelors, Tom Jones, Engelbert; Tony D’Amato who did Phase 4 – he was the only American on the staff; Ray Horrocks who did all the Anthony Newley hits and the Lionel Bart staff; Mike Vernon who did jazz and blues.

involve_gus_lg-1.jpg

Gus Dudgeon

tony-clarke_1562839c.jpg

Tony Clarke

vernon1.jpg

Mike Vernon

That was a big in-house cost

A huge cost, the maintenance of the studio, the engineers, the producers.

Probably explains why so much repertoire came out, to justify them all?

More soon as we finish the Decca chapter and move to Brian’s time at Pye and beyond.

Text ©David Hughes, 2017. Photos for illustration only, courtesy Firefox search.

Posted in A Personal History of the British Record Business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments