Joe Meek / April 5, 1929 - Feb 3, 1967

Joe Meek may very well be rock's first independent producer/auteur. He is like an early rock & roll Lee Perry, a man with a strong artistic inclination and a home studio, eccentric tendencies and behaviors, and experimental processes to create otherwordly results.

He had a background as an electrician and started cutting his own records in the '50s. He set up perhaps the first home recording studio in rock (he loved to bother his neighbors). He produced "Tornado", a major international hit by the Telstars in '62, becoming the first British group to top the US charts.

He utilized separation of instruments, lots of effects and echo/reverb, early sampling techniques, processing through homemade electronics, messing with tape speed and other innovations. He created early electronic pop experiments and often would give the songs spooky string backdrops.

All told he produced thousands of recordings of pop, rock & roll, jazz, R&B and calypso, as well as providing music for radio & film. In addition to hundreds of unknown artists and groups he worked with Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, the futuristic Blue Men, Lonnie Donegan, Petula Clark, Billy Fury, the Honeycombs, Screaming Lord Sutch, Gene Vincent and others...with instrumentalists on sessions including young David Bowie (whom he rejected working with later), Jimmy Page, Richie Blackmore and others.

And here's what he said after rejecting the Beatles: "just another bunch of noise, copying other people's music". He sort of fell behind the times with the hippy revolution and his own demons helped lead him to his violent end. But he is considered one of the most innovative and important engineers in the history of pop music.

Tagged: avant-garde, calypso, Celebrate Icons, classic albums, jazz, Joe Meek, psych, rock, soundtrack, space age, surf

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