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 Joe Meek

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Joe Meek

  • Original Name Robert George
  • Birth 5 Apr 1929 Newent, Forest of Dean District, Gloucestershire, England
  • Death 3 Feb 1967 London, City of London, Greater London, England
  • Burial Newent, Forest of Dean District, Gloucestershire, England
  • Plot Plot 99 (almost exactly in the middle)
  • Memorial ID 3707

Record Producer. He developed an interest in electronics and performance art at a very early age, filling his parents' garden shed with begged and borrowed electronic components, building circuits, radios and what is believed to be the region's first working television. After two years National Service in radar with the R.A.F., he moved to London in 1954 where he was hired by Lansdowne Studios, which was producing some of the hottest and most popular trad jazz recordings of the 1950's. There he engineered best selling records for artists such as Lonnie Donegan, Chris Barber and Humphrey Lyttleton, and also started sneaking his own proteges in after hours to make his own recordings. He won himself few friends at Lansdowne for his unusual techniques, which included over- and under-using common recording methods such as limiting and compression to achieve startling audio results; while it got his recordings noticed, it annoyed the other engineers, who were forced to reset the entire studio's equipment every time they followed him in a session and eventually he was edged out. While at Lansdowne, he kitted out his two-room apartment as a recording studio, using mostly crude second hand equipment, with his living room serving as the recording studio and his bedroom the engineer's booth. Here he made the first recordings by later stars such as John Leyton and Michael Cox, and also defied possibility by recording (on mono equipment) what is thought to be the world's first true stereo concept album, "I Hear A New World", a collection of audio impressions of his idea of life on the moon. He started his own label, Triumph Records, but became disillusioned with his partner's business practices and six months later walked out of the deal. He was able to keep his growing roster of artists working exclusively for him, as he had had the foresight to legally sign them to him personally instead of to the label. He moved into a larger apartment over a leather goods shop at 304 Holloway Road, which was to be his home and studio for the rest of his life. Here he produced the greatest and most famous recordings of his career. With several records already having made the Top 20 of the British charts, he achieved a major No. 1 hit with John Leyton's haunting "Johnny Remember Me", which stayed at the top of the charts in Britain, Europe and Australia for several weeks. The following year, inspired by the first satellite TV broadcast, he wrote, recorded and produced "Telstar" by The Tornados which, after rising rapidly up the charts in the rest of the world, hit No. 1 in the US just before Christmas. However, although he continued to have some success for the next three years with Leyton, the Tornados and other popular artists in Europe, his 1964 hit "Have I The Right" by The Honeycombs was his only other major international hit, and after this his career plummeted. He was sued over "Telstar" with a French soundtrack writer claiming plagiarism; Meek was left unable to access the royalties and profits, which represented most of his assets. He started to have trouble maintaining payments on his equipment and was sometimes unable to pay his artists, some of whom sued him. His own preference for older styles influenced him into not always being as up to date musically as he could have and he acquired a reputation for being old fashioned. He had suffered from chronic depression for some time and as his career failed, his problems worsened. Although he had been receiving treatment, nothing effective had thus far been found and on the morning on February 3rd 1967, strung out after several sleepless nights, convinced someone was trying to harm him and following an argument with his landlady, with whom he normally got on well, he shot his landlady then took his own life immediately afterwards. A few weeks after his death, the "Telstar" law suit was settled in his favor, with most of the money going to pay back taxes and settle artists' law suits. What were regarded in the 1960's as his bizarre and eccentric recording methods and business practices are now recognised as innovative and influential by today's independent producers, who have adopted many of his techniques as standard.

Bio by: Mount Hope NY

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 21 Oct 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3707
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joe Meek (5 Apr 1929–3 Feb 1967), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3707, citing Newent Cemetery, Newent, Forest of Dean District, Gloucestershire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .