The Early years 1957 – 1962
After some turbulent times in my early life I was lucky and proud to have joined the staff of EMI Records in 1957 and with some push and shove in the right places I managed to become Assistant to Norrie Paramor who was the A&R Manager for the Columbia Label.
Norrie was a fantastic boss, a brilliant musician, producer, composer and arranger who meticulously taught me virtually everything about record production and how to run a record label successfully. We had some phenomenal world wide success with hit records involving some very talented artists. The Avons, Tommy Bruce, Ricky Valance, Frank Ifield, Cliff Richard and The Shadows and ...
Helen was only thirteen and a half years old when I discovered her. She was to be one of the greatest successes of my entire career because, with Mike Hawker I also wrote her most successful songs 'Don’t Treat Me Like A Child' (No3), 'You Don’t Know' (No1), 'Walking Back To Happiness' (No1), 'Little Miss Lonely' (No12), 'Look Who It Is', 'Til I Hear The Truth From You' etc.
'Walking Back to Happiness' won Mike Hawker and I the most prestigious award of all, 'The Ivor Novello Award' for the biggest song of the year in 1961.
Oriole Records 1962 – 1964
I joined Oriole Records on December 4th 1961. My brief was to make and develop Oriole Records, the only independent record company at the time into a successful Record Label designed to compete with the major players. Quite a daunting proposition!
My first break came with Clinton Ford and 'Fanlight Fanny' followed by Maureen Evans and 'Like I Do' selling a quarter of a million records. Norrie Paramor bless him sent me a personal note saying “Congratulations on Like I Do. Please leave some space in the charts for me!” This was followed by the discovery of The Spotniks from Sweden chart bound with 'Orange Blossom Special'.
Tamla Motown | Oriole-American
We were the first record label to bring Motown to Britain. The evening I took Berry Gordy, Barney Ales, Motown's vice president and Ester Edwards out to dinner at the Talk of the Town was unforgettable. Berry Gordy and I had something in common; we were both
successful song writers and that made good conversation.
I knew we had a mammoth task ahead of us, but I also knew the sheer talent featured on this label could not help but eventually register. It was only a matter of time.
It took a while before the British music industry and Press came on board but we eventually scored our first hit with Stevie Wonder's Fingertips' part 2.
Pye - Piccadilly Records 1964 – 1972
Sounds Orchestral | A Dedicated Labour of Love
Finding a way of bringing orchestral music nearer to the understanding of the younger generation was for me a burning ambition. Soon after becoming the label manager of the Pye Piccadilly label I formed Sounds Orchestral with Johnny Pearson, a multi talented pianistic genius. Without realising it at the time, the decision to record Cast your fate to the wind written by Vince Guaraldi and subsequently our distinctive recorded interpretation of it provided me with the answer I was looking for with greater impact than I had ever imagined.
Cast your fate to the wind won the Melody Maker Award for best instrumental record in Great Britain and the World, 17 Sounds Orchestral albums were to follow.
John Schroeder Orchestra
The John Schroeder Orchestra and the City of Westminster String Band were of course totally different concepts to Sounds Orchestral which was Jazz-orientated. There was a much wider coverage and diversity of musicians since my love of Soul music found a place.
I've always felt it important, in making records to look for a challenge. To hunt around for something different to present. So an ambition of mine was to take these recent hits from the earthy raw edged soulful blues singers and present them in an instrumental way.
This was realised when we recorded Working in a Soul Mine a set of reinterpretations of many of the big Soul club tunes of the time.
A second John Schroeder Orchestra project The Dolly Catcher was released the following year, a sound track to an imaginary swinging London film wrapped in a period piece pop art cover.
The start of a prolific creative period.
This is Merseybeat
There were many unforgettable moments whilst I was struggling with Oriole but one of them was definitely having the idea of taking a mobile recording unit to Liverpool and showcasing Liverpool's inexhaustible talent by recording two albums entitled This is Mersey Beat Vol 1 and 2. I had the honour of meeting both John Lennon and Brian Epstein during this occasion and experiencing the incomparable Cavern Club. I owe much to Bill Harry, the editor of Mersey Beat who was very much considered to be an icon in Liverpool at the time.
The longest standing artist I had ever found and produced was unquestionably Status Quo. In endeavouring to achieve a flow of chart records and create an image at the same time can only be described as 'pleasurable hell'. However we did have some good times and for me 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' and the album entitled 'Dog of Two Head' were the greatest achievements.
For a group to survive 25 years of consistent success was more than a miracle!