Bernie Andrews

Forename/s: 
Bernie
Family name: 
Andrews
Work area/craft/role: 
Industry: 
Interview Number: 
590
Interview Date(s): 
1 Feb 2007
6 Feb 2008
Interviewer/s: 
Production Media: 

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Interview

Two History Project Interviews were recorded with Bernie. The  first on the 1st February 1987 and the second on 6th February 2008 by Mike Dick and Jackie Wilson.


N.B. See also interviews #588 Jeff Griffin and #589 Jimmy Grant.

Roll 1 of first interview with Bernie Andrews 1st February 2007
Roll 2 of first interview with Bernie Andrews 1st February 2007
Roll 1 of second interview with Bernie Andrews 2nd February 2008
Roll 2 of second interview with Bernie Andrews 2nd February 2008
Roll 3 of Second Interview with Bernie Andrews 2nd February 2008
Roll 4 of Second Interview with Bernie Andrews 2nd February 2008
Bernie talks about recording the Beatles on Saturday Club. He goes on to tell the tale of the stolen BBC toilet paper. He finishes with an example of his great relationship with John Lennon.
Bernie talks about recording live studio sessions for BBC Radio 1 programme ‘Top Gear’ in October 1967 It was first hosted by Pete Drummond but eventually John Peel, championed by Bernie , came to present the programme. Bernie would record six different sessions in a week. The first two programmes included sessions by Pink Floyd, Traffic, the Move, Procol Harem and the Who. He goes on to talk about recording sessions with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on Saturday Club working with George Martin and Andrew Loog Oldham.
Bernie talks about meeting the Beatles for the first time. He became a personal friend of the group, regularly inviting them to his flat in Shepherd Street in Mayfair which he shared with Terry Doran – a close friend of George Harrison and a business associate of Brian Epstein. They attended the same parties in London. One of the guests was Tommy Cooper.
Transcript

TRANSCRIPTION OF  INTERVIEW WITH BERNIE ANDREWS

 

Interview #1 – 1 Feb 2007

Roll 1

Interviewer – Mike Dick (MD)

Interviewee – Bernie Andrews (BA)

 

 

Ellipses ‘…’ denote omissions or hesitations

 

Timings – about every 5:00 minutes or so

 

Tape 1

 

00:00

 

MD

OK Bernie, can you tell me a bit about your background, where were you born and bred:

 

BA

I was born in a council estate in South East London… 17th of August, 1933 and lived there until 1948, then moved to another council estate.  But left school 1950.  I had two years’ training with the GPO as a telephone engineer, then went into the RAF for two years’ national service, 1952 – 54, and when I came out I went back to the GPO until 1957 when I joined the BBC as a Technical Operator in October 1957.

 

MD

What were your earliest memories of growing up in South East London?

 

BA

Playing out in the street and not having to worry about anything with other kids.  Seeing horse-drawn milkmen and bakers’ vans and coal vans coming round delivering every day.  My Mum and Dad rowing.

 

MD

Those were the days before television…

 

BA

Oh we didn’t have… I bought our first television after I had been working for about four or five years.  My parents couldn’t afford a television, and I got one on hire purchase when I was about twenty or something.  In the mid ‘50s.  We never had television until about 1958 – somewhere round there – 57 / 58.

 

MD

You were growing up in the radio era then?

 

BA

It was the radio.  We had a big Marconi radio.  It was quite a good one, but my father had to put it right on top of a bookcase, about six foot high, to stop me getting at it because I wouldn’t leave it alone.  And he just couldn’t keep me away from it.  And I used to love listening to the radio.  And I used to like listening to dance bands, Henry Hall and that bit.

 

But my favourite one, I think, was one that Richard Murdoch and Kenneth…  em, Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch, Stinker Murdoch was in called Bandwagon.  And that… I forget what day of the week it was on.  There was Bandwagon… oh that used to come…  that was when Richard Murdoch and Arthur Askey pretended they had a flat on the top of Broadcasting House.  And that flat, when I went… on my first day in the BBC looking round Broadcasting House, I was shown that studio, and it was studio 8 on the 8th  floor of Broadcasting House, and that’s where they used to do Bandwagon from.  And that’s where they used to refer as having their flat at Broadcasting House.

 

Another programme I used to listen to was Monday Night at Eight…  and I can remember Monday Night at Eight when it was Monday Night at Seven before they changed it to eight o’clock.

 

MD

What kind of music was being played on the radio then, to give people a flavour of the time?

 

BA

Oh… Henry Hall, and I used to love all the things like “Oh Mama” sung by a lady who is now in her ‘80s and is Betty Turpin in Coronation street – whose name I can’t think of at the moment – but I can distinctly remember going mad over some of the things she used to sing.  And there was no such thing as pop or rock and roll then, it was all straightforward dance music, but with good tunes a lot of which I still like.  I still like listening to Malcolm Laycock and things like that on Radio 2

 

05:14

 

MD

Did you have a gramophone record player in the house?  Did you play gramophone records?

 

BA

We did.  But we weren’t allowed to touch it, because we might break it, and it was hidden.  All the time my Mum and Dad were out, my brother and I used to creep up to a cupboard in their bedroom where they used to hide it, and we used to get it out and wind it up and get records of Leyton and Johnston out… and all the records we used to like.  And we’d wind it up and play these records.  And we got it out once, and we wound it up and we broke the spring, and they found out that we did it… and we had hell to pay over that.  We actually broke it.  But I’ve always liked listening to all types of music.  I’ve got a very catholic taste in music.  That’s why I’ve always liked all types of pop music as well.

 

MD

When did pop music really start to impact on your life  would you say?

 

BA

Early ‘50s.  The first pop record that I went mad over, I think it was 1948, was Pee Wee Hunt, 12th Street Rag.  And I bought that during my dinner hour from school from a record shop in Greenwich it was four(shillings) and tenpence ha’penny (half penny) and I got it back after the dinner hour and I was showing it to the other boys in our form and I said, “I’ve got this new record”, and the teacher came in, and I suddenly lifted my desk, and put it in my desk so that the teacher wouldn’t see that I had this terrible thing, a gramophone record… and lowered it down, and all the other boys were sort of (Bernie points excitedly) “he’s got something” and he knew there was something up, and this teacher came round and he said (thumping as if on desktop) “What are you up to Andrews?”  and he thumped the top of my desk, and broke the record of Pee Wee Hunt and I had to go and get another copy of it.  And then, I played it so much I wore it out, and I eventually ended up with a third copy.  I like Lou Bush’s Zambezi, that was on Capitol, loads of things on Brunswick, I used to like The Inkspots and Tennessee Ernie Ford… I used to buy every Tennessee Ernie Ford record, and that’s what led me towards liking country music.  I’ve always been very keen on country music.

 

MD

Had you heard Hank Williams that moment in your life?

 

BA

Not so much.  No it was the more popular things I used to like.  And I got to like Hank Williams more in the 70s and 80s, and I appreciated it more then, and I’ve still got nearly all of Hank Williams’ original 10 inch LPs that he did on MGM.

 

MD

Did you play a musical instrument yourself?

 

BA

No.  I’ve never played an instrument apart from… I bought a recorder for about seven (shillings) and fourpence at school once, and I had a two or three lessons in it but I’ve never been able to play an instrument, and I regret that in a way…  But strangely enough, because I’m not a musician, I actually found that it’s an irony in a way… I found that not being a musician helpful in producing pop music because I didn’t have this musician’s attitude that everything had to be correct, musically.  So long as it was a good pop record, and so long as it was good and in tune…  it had to be in tune, mind you… I couldn’t stand anything out of tune but… I found working with Musical Directors like Arthur Greenslade and when we had session men in Saturday Club, and programmes like that… I… there was a mutual respect where I never tried to pretend that I knew much about music.  I used to leave it to them.  And on the sound side, and on the rest of it, they used to leave it to me.  So there was this mutual respect…  so there wasn’t this professional musician rivalry between us.  And I found that normally worked.  And it’s quite an irony in a way, because at one time, there’s no way you could have been a producer without being a musician.  And I think, as well as being the youngest producer at the time I was made a producer, I was the first one that wasn’t a musician.

 

10:55

 

MD

I’ll just take you back a few steps…  tell us about National Service

 

BA

When I first left school in 1950, the first application for a job was to the BBC.  Cos I was mad… I had already written up to the BBC for tickets for Variety Bandbox and things like that, to go out to the People’s Palace in London.  I used to go out and do anything to get tickets for broadcasts.  I was mad about microphones and studios and broadcasting and the rest of it.  Not broadcasting myself, I’m not a performer but I was mad about the technicalities of it.

 

So, I wrote to the BBC asking for a job as a trainee operator or engineer and I had a reply back to say that they weren’t recruiting at all at that time in 1950.  That’s because they had such an influx of people after the war coming out of the military.  It was hard to get work like that and there were a lot of people came back out of the army and forces.  So from there, I wrote to the GPO and got a job as a trainee telephone engineer – as a Y2YC – that’s a youth on a two year course.  I did that, and then went in the RAF for two years – national service – came out, went back to the GPO, and then in 1957, I re-applied to the BBC.  And because of my record in the RAF and the GPO, that gave me a good background as a technical operator and engineer in the BBC.  And I got a job as a probationary technical operator.

 

MD

Did you have a board or anything for that?

 

BA

Yes…  it was…  It was quite a strong interview.  Anyway… I got it.  And the first job I had was mainly working in the old London Control Room down in the sub-basement and in the continuities and studio testing and all that bit as a regular… more engineering than studio work.

 

But I went from there, 

 

MD

What were your first impressions of the BBC.  What was it like in those days?

 

BA

Oh I loved it!  I just couldn’t believe that I was working there.  And I used to take photographs of the control room and various things.  And I used to get… I really used to love working there.  And after about a month, I was sitting in the old Light Programme Continuity Suite – training to do continuity work – with a guy called Terry Cornelius, who was the senior continuity operator, and we were chatting and he was asking me questions and he said, “What sort of music do you like?”  and I said, “Oh, mainly pop music and jazz”, and I told him the sort of things I liked, but I said, “The thing I like at the moment is skiffle”.  And I said, “I always listen to Skiffle Club”.  So he said, “Oh do you?”  And I said, “How can I get tickets for it?” and he said, “Oh they don’t have an audience at all”,  so I said, “Oh I’d love to go and see it being recorded.”  And he said, “Well it just happens that Jimmy Grant, who’s the producer, is a very good friend of mine.  Leave it with me and I’ll have a word with him.” 

 

15:14

 

And I had a phone call back…  Later… the next day… to say “Yeah, there’s a recording on Thursday down at Aeolian 1” and he said, “you can go down there if you like.  Make yourself known at the reception desk and you can go and sit in on it”.  And one of my friends that I was working with that joined the BBC the same day to me was Johnny Beerling, who later became Controller of Radio 1.  And he and I were working in the control room and I said, “’Ere… I’m going down to Saturday Skiffle Club on Thursday”.  And he was… he just couldn’t believe it.  And he said “Oh you… you swine…”   And he said, “Can I come?”  And I said, “Well, alright.  I’ll ask.”

 

Anyway, I made contact with Jimmy somehow, I think I rang his secretary, and said  “Can this friend of mine come down?”  And he said, “Yes, alright”.  And Johnny Beerling and I went down to this recording of Saturday Skiffle Club.  It was in Aeolian 1 studio, in Old Bond Street and it was Johnny Duncan and the Bluegrass Boys and I’ve forgotten who the other group was.  We can remember…  both of us can remember every detail …  the first song he sung was Footprints In The Snow, and it was such an experience to go down there and watch this.  The studio manager… the guy on panel… was a guy called Freddie Harris who was a legendary SM (Studio Manager = sound mixer)… balance engineer at the BBC, who did all sorts of marvellous things and was a very good balance engineer.  So we learned quite a lot from him.  And that created our interest in programmes.

 

And then, I started going down to Saturday Club recording sessions.  And then gradually went from working in control room and continuity to tape editing which I was very keen on…  you know, cutting up tape with a razor blade.  And I specialised after a while in music editing, particularly pop music editing, and I used to edit the pre-recorded tapes.

 

MD

Tell us how you did that, because, you know, these are skills that are disappearing… chinagraph and all this sort of thing… so how would you go about editing a piece of music like that?

 

BA

Tape editing… I found… It just fascinated me somehow.  I was very interested in it and I was amazed at what could be done, if it was done properly.  And to learn the correct ways of doing it.  And it wasn’t always done correctly.  And that time, nearly all programmes were recorded at 15 inches per second.  But for really difficult editing, sometimes they were copied to 30 inches a second so that you had, literally, a whole length of tape, just to make that point easier where to cut from.

 

I started doing the editing sessions for the pre-recorded sessions in Saturday Club, and at the same time, I joined what was called the XP Section, which was BBC code for transportable tape (recorders).   And they went… they were trolley mounted TR90 EMI machines.  Very good once you got used to working on them, and you could work very quickly on them.  And I used to have three of those working in Saturday Club.  One to play back on.  And another one to record on at 7 and a half (inches per second)  and another one for a follow-up machine for change-overs (on playback).

 

20:02

 

MD

Do you remember some of the artists you were working with?  At that moment in time?  IN the early days?

 

BA

Yeah, in the early days… on the transmissions… the transmissions of Saturday Club, when we played back the tapes… played in the live… played in the records and sometimes had live groups… which started off as trad (jazz) music groups, normally jazz groups in the studio below…  That was in studio 3A… and…  studio 3A which was the transmission studio for Saturday Club – the control cubicle and the announcer’s cubicle was on the 4th floor… but the main body… the music part of the studio was one floor down.  And that’s why they called The Jazz Cellar, The Jazz Cellar.  It was one floor down (from the 4th floor), but it was actually three floors up (from the ground floor).  So, it wasn’t strictly a cellar.  But we used to have live groups in that, eh, three weeks out of four we had live groups.  Eh, usually trad groups and we used to start the rehearsal for that at about 8 o’clock and rehearse that.  Rehearse all the voiceover intros with Brian Matthew…  all the in and out cues of the tapes and records…  Johnny Beerling used to play in the records usually, and I used to play in the tapes on that… it became a little family after a while.

 

MD

Yeah, I was going to say, what was the atmosphere like in the studio… the camaraderie and that sort of thing?

 

BA

Yes, normally.  Unless we had an outsider…  sometimes the regular studio manager couldn’t make it, and there’d be like a stand-in studio manager, and he… he was quite a fish out of water in a way…  because, he’d be very toffee-nosed about the music…  and he’d look down his…  you know he’d regard it as a load of rubbish…  and it was beneath his dignity to work on those sort of programmes…  and there was still that attitude with a lot of people in the BBC.  Not just producers, but studio managers and engineers and… operators and sometimes it was quite difficult to get people who were sympathetic with the sort of thing you were trying to do.  So we used to try like mad to get a nice little atmosphere going of people that enjoyed working on the programme.  And it got… it made it into a Saturday Club atmosphere… a clubby atmosphere.  And Jim used to…  Jimmy Grant used to work really hard on encouraging that and getting a nice, friendly, informal atmosphere in the studio.

 

MD

Again you could please talk about the impact  of Saturday Club because it was pretty unique.  Things were beginning to happen… that were quite exciting… certainly from the listeners’ point of view, I mean what was it like working on a show like that at that moment in time?

 

BA

 I didn’t work on the first few programmes because I was on a training course down at Evesham… but I’ve still got a letter from Jimmy Grant where… during… I wanted to record the second Saturday Club, but I didn’t have enough tape because it was quite expensive then to buy.  I didn’t have enough tape to record all of it, but I just wanted to record what I thought was the highlights at seven and a half inches a second on my recorder down at Evesham at the BBC training course, and during a rehearsal for Sat… for Jazz Club on the Thursday, I got Jimmy to write to me at Evesham and give me the provisional running order for Saturday Club which he’d just finished editing and he wrote to me, te… giving me the running order so I could record bits of it down at Evesham.  And I’ve still got those recordings  and from then for quite a few years I used to record  at seven and a half, usually at… either at home… off the air… off VHF (it was Medium Wave – not VHF at that time) or at seven and a half in the studio?  If I was actually working on it and I had a machine to do it on… I would record it.  And I kept quite a lot of recordings of those Saturday Clubs.

 

25:28

 

MD

It’s amazing foresight, because… you know… what..  in terms of the archiving of material at that time, I mean…

 

BA

Well they… the tapes were recorded at fifteen ips (inches per second) in big boxes on big ten inch spools and there were three reels per programme and there were three sessions that were edited into the three final reels which were banded up for playing in off an XP machine and once they were edited in after… at that time… I think it was after six weeks – it may have been eight – but because of an agreement with the musician’s union over keeping of tapes… and of a combination of that, and the fact that the BBC wanted – for pop reasons, not for classical reasons – to recycle the tapes and re-cement (splice) the reels of tapes into ‘serviced tapes’ which were OK…  acceptable for speech or pop music but not classical music… they used to wipe (record over) the original sessions.  So all of those sessions, like the magic sessions…  sessions that Jimmy Grant did with Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on March 5th and March 12th 1960 down at Piccadilly 1 Studio.  Those tapes were wiped.  And the only tapes that were kept of them were the ones I did at seven and a half.  And I used to regard that as an absolute crime to wipe… because I knew then that they should have been kept.  That’s why I used to record so many of them myself.  And I used to get a lot of stick for recording it.  For wasting time.  But they’re the only recordings that exist of lots of things now.

 

MD
I mean, there’s two questions…  One, I mean I suppose the fact that it was also how they regarded popular music at the time… it was a fad, it would die away…  you know, Rock and Roll would die away, yet here we are forty, fifty years later still talking about it with some passion.

 

BA

It was hard work getting anything done.  And, once you became a produc...  it seemed that once you were a pop music producer, especially if you were enthusiastic about pop music and not, secretly, still only liking big bands, but if you genuinely liked pop music…  you were regarded as a complete… mad person…  I had things written on my annual reports from the head of department saying that…  I was…  I ‘ve got to think of the word…  what’s over-enthusiastic?..   Nutty about something?..  Fanatical!..   I can remember, once on my first annual interview with the head of the popular music department…  the only positive thing written about me at that time was that I was fanatical about pop music.  And I said, “I think that’s derogatory,” and he said, “No!  It’s not!”  And I moaned about it and said, “I really don’t like that going down on my record, because I’m enthusiastic about it, and I think derog…”  and he said, “All right,” and he got his fountain pen out… it was an old-type fountain pen… and black ink in it…  and he went, “There!” (Bernie makes scribbling out gesture), and he crossed it all out.  And he said, “Are you happy now?”  But it was still on there, and obviously crossed out, and that’s the way we were treated, and we had no respect at all from most of the management.  And no encouragement and it was a battle to get things done.  Even in Saturday Club days…  It got even worse later.

 

30:24

 

MD

I just wanted to get a flavour of that early period especially, because you mentioned Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent and two very important sessions… I mean who else were the kind of key artists who were coming through at that time that you remember?

           

BA

Most American artists, particularly after about 1960, once the Ministry of Works regulations were relaxed about exchange visits for musicians and entertainers, there were people like Bobby Vee and Bobby Rydell…  Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran did a few sessions, Gene Pitney did a lot of Saturday Clubs.  He was great, Gene Pitney.  Someone else who was great to work with – one take Brenda Lee – one take every time.  No messing.  Another one, Jerry Lee Lewis.  Did a fantastic…  I think Jim (Jimmy Grant) did his first session and then I did one, for later, for Top Gear, and he enjoyed it so much, he did a really good session, and he just banged off about ten or twelve numbers straight away and, at the end of it, he said, “Have we gotta stop?...  Can’t we carry on?... Can’t we make an album?..” and I said, “No, there’s another programme coming in to use the studio, and we can’t do it, you can’t use it for commercial purposes anyway because of various BBC and MU regulations and the rest of it.  We just can’t do things like that, much as we’d like to.”  And he wanted to stay and make an album down there, cause he was enjoying it so much.

 

Carl Perkins did a great session for me.  That was on the first ever Top Gear.

 

MD

Talk me through a recording session then, and how it was structured and how you dealt with it.

 

BA

Well, it changed.  It changed a lot.  Between 1957 when Jim started doing Saturday Skiffle Club and the time I started doing Saturday Club, it gradually got more and more obvious that the restrictions we had to stick to were completely unreasonable.  In the first few, the first couple of years, Jimmy Grant recording a Saturday Skiffle Club, he would have had from two o’clock until four o’clock to record … to rehearse, and then he would have been allocated a half an hour recording time.  And that was quite often down the line… down a post office land line to Broadcasting House, to a recording channel there.  They had to put the red light on and start recording, and there was no rolling back…  you know it was…  almost impossible to get them to stop the recording to say, can you roll back on that, or can we take it again?  Because it was just like doing a live broadcast.  And it was very difficult from various aspects… both engineers… and… booking…  and particularly MU regulations.. where…  the musicians union regarded it as an unbelievable privilege  to allow us to record anything… let alone record it in bits and edit it.  Just the recording of anything, that’s why Music While You Work , for years, went out live.  Because they had this ridiculous objection to the BBC recording… although… because they regarded it as making records and doing musicians out of work.  Goodness knows why, it was just… irrational.

 

35:24

 

But once I started doing Saturday Club I started bending the rules a bit.  And whereas until then, everything had been done in one take, and the artists were not normally allowed to listen back to it – mainly because there wasn’t time – you had to get on with the recording…  I used to try and do my best to let members of the groups and the artists themselves and the musical director to take part in the decisions on whether it was OK with them and whether it was up to their standards as well as being up to my standards.  And by that, I found that people were more willing to work with me, that were difficult to book and that weren’t really keen to do broadcasts because of the backward equipment we had for one time for years we had to make do with just single track machines.  And if we wanted to do anything other than a straight single track recording, what we had to do was record it onto one, full-track, quarter inch tape on one machine, then play that back and mix it with the studio output to put a vocal track on or something else, and record it on a second machine and then eventually, after a while, on a particular…

 

The first time I actually did this four times… and played it backwards and forwards four times… for one number was for Dave Clarke – Bits & Pieces – and it was the only session that Dave Clarke ever did for the BBC I think, just as well… (giggles)… cause it was hard work.  But with Bits & Pieces …  it used to go, “Bits and pieces , bits and pieces…” and there was this thumping noise all the time… and we were trying like mad to get this thumping noise… and we didn’t… we couldn’t… it was no good just sort of tapping or anything, it didn’t sound right.  And I said… Dave Clarke had his producer down there and I said, “How did you do this when you recorded it at EMI?”   I think it was EMI.  And he said “We had an old builders’ board… you know a twelve foot long building board, off a building site.  And we took it in and put it in the studio and we all banged up and down on this builders’ board.”  So I said, “Oh, alright.  And, just as a joke, I said, “I’ll go and get one.”  And this was at the Playhouse.  And I went out, and I happened to know that there was a building site… in Villiers Street,  round towards Charing Cross Station.  And I went over to the foreman of this building and I said, “Excuse me…”  I told him what we were doing, and he was quite impressed.  And I said, “Can I borrow your builder’s board for about half an hour please?”  And he said, “Yeah, alright”, and I carried this builder’s board back to the Playhouse, took it down, put it up on the stage, and the various people that weren’t actually doing anything, I got, including myself,  and at that time, I had quite high Cuban heels on, because they were in fashion at the time – I’ve still got ‘em actually -  I had these high Cuban heels on, and we were all thumping up and down on this builder’s board to get authentic sound on Bits and Pieces, to get it like the record.  But that took four overdubs, like from one machine to another.  Then after that, we used to do it quite frequently on… usually on their record, which I always used… I used to promise them that I’d do my best to get it up to the standard they wanted.  In other words, I gave them a verbal promise that I wouldn’t let a recording of their current single go out which was going to make…  damage the… the reputation of their current single and I would do my best to get it as near the record as possible.  But it all took time, that was the trouble and I got this reputation for spending too long on recording sessions and it got me into a lot of trouble actually.

 

40:55

 

TRANSCRIPTION OF  INTERVIEW With BERNIE ANDREWS

 

Interview #1 – 1 Feb 2007

Roll 2

DVD Disc 2

 

Interview – Mike Dick (MD)

Interviewee – Bernie Andrews (BA)

 

 

Elipses ‘…’ denote omissions of hesitations

 

Timings – about every 5:00 minutes or so

 

Tape 1

 

00:00

 

MD

OK Bernie, can you tell me how you first became a producer at the BBC?

 

BA

 We had this regular crew of panel operator, that’s the guy on the knobs, the studio manager, there was the guy who played in the records on grams, and the XP operator which I normally did.  And every now and again, Brian would go on holiday and in that case, Pat Campbell used to dep for Brian or Ray Orchard or Jim Dale… Jim Dale depped quite a few times for Brian actually and Jim (Saturday Club producer - Jimmy Grant) used to go on holiday sometimes – a bit of a cheek, but he did.   And normally, when Jimmy Grant went on leave, normally for about three weeks or something, John Kingdon used to produce Saturday Club, and John Kingdon wasn’t really interested in that sort of music but he was quite open… he wasn’t hostile to it which was good.  And he used to come along to the transmissions and he’d just sit in and he’d just say, “OK how do you normally do it?” and he didn’t try and take over.  In other words he’d pass it on to the regulars who worked on it and mainly leave it with them.  But on a couple of occasions, I was the only regular that did it, because as well as Jimmy going on leave…  there wasn’t… there was an uncooperative studio manager on the panel and…  he was a bit lost on general procedures, so he was relying on me on telling him what we normally do, but he also noticed that I knew most of the records and I knew the in cues and out cues of all the stuff and he seemed quite impressed on the way that I was doing it and, after the programme we’d go over to the BBC Club for a drink and when we were having a drink he’d say… he said to me once after about the second week, he said, “Have you ever thought of being a producer?”  and I thought he was taking the piss quite frankly… and I thought, no, you’ve got to be joking, you know.  And he said “No!”  he said, “How would you like an attachment to Light Entertainment or Pop Music Department?”  So, I said…  I just thought he was joking, and I was quite offended actually, because I thought… I really did think he was taking the mick.  So, he said, “Leave it with me.”  And he spoke to a guy called Jim Davidson who was then Head of Variety Department, and Jim Davidson spoke to somebody and about a week later, I had a memo back offering me an attachment to Light Entertainment Department as a producer for three months.  And I still thought it was a wind-up.  But I went there with… within about two or three weeks, I was there and I spent three months, mainly assisting Jimmy on Saturday Club and I was doing… I was producing some of the sessions…  and choosing the records… and things… every other week.  But we were doing it between us for a while.

 

MD

Do you remember the dates of this then?

 

04:39

 

BA

Yes, I think that would have been February 1963.   I ‘m not sure whether… no that was when I first got a job as a producer, February ’63 I think…  My attachment (probationary period) for three months was at the end of 1962.  But once I had my attachment, I never went back to engineering department, and I was the first engineer, and, strictly speaking, I was an engineer and technical operator that had become a producer without going through being a studio manager  But unfortunately, that did create an awful lot of bad feeling of… from studio managers that were trying to be producers and everybody thought, “Who is this jumped up upstart?” suddenly coming along and going from being a technical operator to a producer.  And it did… it created quite a lot of problems, actually from… but there was nothing I could do about it apart from… not to pull my weight too much, and to be as cooperative as possible with other people that, until then, I’d been working with as colleagues.

 

MD

What kind of skills do you think you brought to the job then?

 

BA

I tried… I was genuinely enthusiastic about pop music.  And I probably… partly because I was younger as well, I was only about mid-twenties, which was very young to be a producer then.  And I was able to communicate much better with pop groups and young pop singers.. and.. I wasn’t… they felt I was much more sympathetic with them than… than other people that… they found quite hostile in the BBC.  And because of that, quite a lot of people were quite willing to work with me, because I gave them an undertaking not to do them more harm than good, when the programme went out.

 

MD

But you were the right man at the right time though, by the sound of it because presumably the Beatles were just coming together at that time.

 

BA

No, I did…  It was exactly that time when The Beatles started, and just after that, I was sharing a flat  with a friend of mine who…  he was a personal manager of George in The Beatles and subsequently George used to come round to the flat quite a lot and some of the others, and I was quite friendly with them.  I know it’s a horrible bit of name-dropping and all that but it…  you know… it was so.  But, at the same time, it also created… quite… as well as being the good contact, which led to other things as well – it did me quite a lot of harm as well, in some ways.

 

MD

In what way?

 

BA

There was an attitude from some people that “Why did the Beatles and Stones do sessions for me and not too keen to do others?”   And it… there was quite a… there was a certain amount of bad feeling amongst some other people…  well not everyone, but some other people.

 

MD

Tell me about working with The Beatles?  That’s one of the questions I have to ask.

 

BA

I don’t really want to talk about that just at the moment.  I don’t know why, but I don’t…  I’ve sort of clammed up a bit.  Can we stop a minute?

 

10:12

 

MD

Of course.

 

Hiatus in interview…

 

11:19

 

BA

Yeah, and I got to know Brian Epstein as well,

 

Yeah, I got to know the Beatles quite well, and it was partly through my flat mat, who… he was called Terry Doran…  and he had various connections with the Beatles.  One of them was that he was the business partner of Brian Epstein.  And Brian Epstein and Terry Doran had a… a car company in Hounslow called BriDor Cars.  And so, Brian Epstein was obviously round the flat quite a lot, sorting out things with Terry.  And the Beatles used to come round as well.  The main…  The main time that they all came round was when recording the…  legendary trailers for Top Gear.  Once when Paul came round, it was quite embarrassing because we used to have a mynah bird just inside the doorway.  As you opened the door, on the right hand side was this cage with a mynah bird in it.  And it used to talk and swear like mad.   And… I don’t know where… I don’t know who it got the swearing from, but it used to.  And Cilla Black used to talk to it, and I once caught her saying…  I was in the kitchen further down and I heard her quietly saying…  leaning over the bird’s cage… saying “I ‘ate Dusty!  I ‘ate Dusty!” (giggles)  And when I caught her saying, she said, “No, I was only joking honestly.”  Anyway…

 

Another funny incident with the mynah bird…  Paul came round, and as Paul came in the door, the bird said, “Hello Ringo!” and he kept on saying “Hello Ringo!” because…  the reason it said that was because, for some reason, and I’ve got a…  I’ve still got a tape of this, of this bird saying “Hello Ringo!” and talking away like mad.  I just put a tape machine near listening…  listening to it talk… and he just kept on saying “Hello Ringo!” and it got a bit of a catch phrase, but unfortunately it said it when Paul came round.  And he seemed quite offended about it at first.

 

14:35

 

MD

When you went to work with the Beatles in the studio at the BBC, that relationship that you had with them, presumably, was of mutual benefit, really, I guess?

 

BA

Yes.  Probably more of a benefit to me, I think.  I probably… because of…  you know, because of who they were, I probably… I probably gained an awful lot from them as well. 

 

I used to go to a lot of trouble on booking sessions with them, to book the right studios and make sure that it was the very best sound engineers I could get working on it.  And I used to be quite secretive over the bookings to avoid loads of kids being down outside the Playhouse or wherever we were recording.

 

What was the first session you did with them then?

 

Do you know, I can’t remember.  I can’t remember the first one.  It was like one of many… I’m pretty sure it was at the Playhouse.  But I can’t remember exactly what they did on it.  It’s strange.  You’d think I would, but I can’t.  There’s other sessions I can remember.  But, I don’t know it may have been because there were so many other things going on at the same time.  But I don’t really remember much about the first session.  Apart from the fact that it was a session with the Beatles.

 

Now there’s something I want to go back on earlier.

 

MD

Can you talk about the sessions you did with the Stones?   (paraphrased) The thing I liked about the Beatles and Stones sessions was that they played lots of stuff that never got on record… like cover versions of old tracks.  How did you decide what they played on these sessions?

 

17.27

BA

Well the first… session I did with the Rolling Stones… was… I used them as a backing group for Bo Diddley.  Because Bo Diddley was on a visit to the UK and I had him booked, and we had problems in getting the Stones through the audition procedure.  And there’s two sides to that… discussion.  One side is that, on their first audition, they put in a couple of deps… to deputise for the regular group, which was… wasn’t really the right thing to do.  And just listening to them as a… just listening to Mick Jagger, if anybody didn’t know any better, and didn’t appreciate that music, they wouldn’t have said very good things about his diction… in traditional BBC parlance… you know “diction not up to standard” and things like that “couldn’t understand a word”

 

MD

“Too black… too American…”

 

BA

Oh, was that one of the comments?..  But, on the other hand, to look at it from the BBC’s point of view, they were only trying to keep up standards.  And when you realise that the BBC were probably the only broadcasting organisation in the world…  this is where I come out as very pro-BBC and defend them against all the things that people generally knock…   I’ll bet there was no other broadcasting organisation in the world that was allowing money to be spent on getting artists in and auditioning them at the BBC’s expense and allowing them… giving them a chance… to be auditioned directly by the BBC… without saying go to a record company and get a record contract first.  You could apply directly to tbe BBC for an audition.  And it was always one of those things that was very much above board.  There was no hanky panky.  I know that, because I did the auditions every week for about 12-13 years.  … And it was a commitment that I wanted to do because  I felt that people auditioning as pop singers and pop groups were being given a very rough deal… and being dealt with very unsympathetically.  And they weren’t encouraged on these auditions…  and they weren’t given a fair hearing I thought because of the hostility ito the people involved in conducting the auditions.  And I used to get quite annoyed about that.  They said, “All right, if you don’t like it, you do the auditions.”

 

20:55

 

So, for years and years and years, I used to do nearly all the pop music auditions.  And try and help them as much as possible.  And at the same time, I was the first one to find people.  You know, people were on the audition list that evening that I thought were good. I’d be first to book them.  So that’s what I was doing there.

 

MD
Who in particular can you remember that came through that system?

 

BA

Almost everyone.  There’s… nearly everyone had to go through… the audition system.  Which I say again, once it was done in a more sympathetic way, was a very good system, I think.  And was a very good thing for the BBC, and it should be recognised that they were at least making an effort to do that.

 

21.54

MD

To go back to the Stones situation, they did the audition they failed it.  They didn’t have a record contract at the time, they then got a record contract with Decca and then came and did a session with you it was Come On, Memphis Tennessee…

 

BA

Roll Over Beethoven…  I think I… I let them do their record…  Come On…  which was the single, and I think it was two other numbers, Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Sixteen?..   Memphis Tennessee But, I booked them as a trial broadcast as a backing group for Bo Diddley and on that session Charlie Watts was taught, first hand, how to do the Bo Diddley bit on drums for Bo Diddley and… he wasn’t doing it exactly as Bo Diddley wanted it, on the rehearsal… so.. and Bo… and he kept on saying “No!  Like this man!.. Like this.  Dum ba rum ba rum dum.  Dum ba rum ba rum dum”  And he wasn’t getting it quite right, and in the end, Bo Diddley went up to Charlie… he went behind him on the drums and he put his arms round him, grabbed hold of both of his hands and he said, “Bum pa rum pa rum bum!”  And it was Bo Diddley holding his hands and showing him exactly how to do it.  And I’ve always thought that from that day, Charlie Watts has had that thing about the Bo Diddley beat on almost everything he does…

 

MD

Not Fade Away and all that?..

 

BA

Yeah.  But that’s how he got him to do it.  He actually went behind him…   on the drum kit. 

 

24.04

MD

Was the Bo Diddley session the Stones first session?  On the same day then?  Can you remember that at all?

 

BA

Yes because the…  Yes because…  It was basically a Bo Diddley session and… time permitting… the Stones could do, if there was enough time, the Stones could do some numbers of their own.  I obviously wan… I made sure there was enough time.  But… they weren’t actually booked to do numbers on their own.  They were only booked as a backing group.

 

MD

So Saturday Club was going from strength to strength at this time.  Again… in the 60s.  Audience figures for example, what kind of audience figures were you getting?

 

BA

Well the highest audience figure ever… I think it was in October 1963.  It was 23.4.  Now that’s 23.4% of the adult population over 14.  So if you can work that… so what’s that… 25% of…  it’s about 16-17 million… for a radio programme… in the morning.  I’ve got the exact figures in my books.

 

25:35

 

MD

That was about the fifth birthday time?

 

BA

Yeah, that was in October 63…  And… on that one…  there was… I had literally an all star bill.  And the budget normally for the programme was, although it started off in 1958 at about £220 pounds , by then it was about £300 pounds per programme.  But the budget that I actually… I went mad a bit on the fifth birthday… on the fifth birthday… and I spent about £480 quid or something.  About £475 pounds.  Cause there was the Everly Brothers, and Dusty Springfield… and the Beatles were on it.  I should have looked this up…

 

MD

The Beatles was a live session on that one, I think?

 

BA

No!  They did..  I think the Beatles… the live session that the Beatles did, which unfortunately was never recorded…

 

 (It was!  By Jeff Griffin, the XP operator, who was asked by one of the band to run off a ‘personal copy’ during the live performance).

 

I think I had them booked on the previous Tuesday, to record them at the Playhouse, and I think it was Paul that had flu or something

 

(other sources say it was John Lennon – check the Beatles Bible on the Internet)

 

Or a bad throat and he couldn’t sing and they came in on the Saturday morning and did it live.  If you can imagine… the Beatles starting a rehearsal at eight o’clock in the morning… and doing it live.

 

But I don’t think that was ever recorded (see above) as far as I know.  I didn’t record it.  I don’t know why I didn’t record it.

 

MD

Jeff Griffin says that he recorded it.  But, when they came to doing The Beatles at the Beeb, they couldn’t find the tape.  The tapes are with the Beatles.

 

Chris Lycett (an onlooker – ex Head of Music Radio 1 interjects)

Jeff says he recorded it for the Beatles, and gave it

 

BA

Yes, because Jeff actually did it that week.

 

MD

You moved to Top Gear.  Can you tell me how that came into existence?

 

BA

Well about the end of 1963, and early 64, no in 1964, I was having various problems on Saturday Club. Partly because of the time I was spending on it, and I was also expected to do quite a lot of other things as well, and people didn’t really appreciate how long it took to do what I was trying to do on it… to get… to make the programme as listenable as possible.  Anyway, there were disagreements on it and I was taken off it.  And I wasn’t at all pleased about it, to put in mildly.  And, I was doing odds and ends for about nine months after that doing various programmes like folk programmes and a programme… a series with Lennie Felix the jazz pianist, and Roundabout and all sorts of odds and end…  organ… organ programmes from the Odeon Leicester Square, Music While You Work and.. I didn’t like all that at all, because I felt I was being given some of these things partly to humiliate me because everyone knew that I wouldn’t like doing some of those sessions after having done Saturday Club but… when… I can’t remember what actually led up to it, but sometime in 1964, and I’d need to refer to my books for this.

 

30:50

 

MD

OK Bernie, can you tell me how you got involved in the programme side of Saturday Club?

 

BA

Yeah.  I was always… very keen on most of the music, not all of it, but most of it.  But after a while, once I’d felt my ground a bit, I used to say, “Why don’t you play this?..” and “Why don’t you play that?..”  And one of the things I used to bang on a bit… was about country music.  The more commercial sort of country music like Hank Locklin and Jim Reeves and people like that.  And they got so fed up with me keep on about why don’t they play this, and why don’t they play that, in the end… they started… Jim started putting records in which he thought were country music, and they weren’t at all…  you know… they were rubbish.  And I kept on having a go in a fairly friendly sort of way, and he… in the end he said, “All right, if you can do better, I’ll give you a country music spot every week.  And every week, round about, just before 11 o’clock, he used to let me choose two records to put in the programme… and it was called the country and western spot.  And I used to go through loads and loads of records, and try and pick out suitable ones to put in.  But it was mainly a thing, basically, to appease me in this rather patronising way, in a way.  And, every week, Brian Matthew, all he did was take the piss out of me.  Every week, about Country Bern and Cowboy Bern and the Cowboy Cockney with the big nose and all that bit… it became a bit of a figure of fun.  But… what they had to admit that it did become very popular and they started getting lots and lots of requests.  And they thought, “Oh!..”  And after a while they treated it no longer as a joke, but they took it more seriously and there were more country type records put in.

 

MD

Did you get a chance to do a session with any country singers?

 

BA

Oh… when I was given my attachment, in 1962, at the end of it, I was told… I was given a budget of about £30 pounds, and told to do a programme of my own as a pilot prog…  anything I wanted to do.  So, I thought, now’s my time.  I’ll do a country music programme.  And it was the first real country music programme ever done on the BBC, and it lasted an hour and it was called Country Time, and it had people like Lorne Gibson and oh Joe Brown was in it doing country guitar… oh and it had lots of oth…  Alabama Hayriders… and it went out, and it was very well received.  And there were so many requests for it that they had to repeat it about three months later.  And it was…. It was compered by a guy that I’d heard on Radio Luxembourg called Ted King of all people. ‘Cos I wanted to get somebody different that wasn’t BBC.  Anyway this programme went out and it was called Country Time, and it was the first real country programme ever that went out on the BBC.

 

34:58

 

MD

We were talking earlier on, a little bit about Top Ger and the move into Top Gear.  Can you tell me how Top Gear came into existence?

 

BA

Well after my fracas with Jimmy, over him taking out House of the Rising Sun from Saturday Club when he was doing the transmission one week, after I’d spent hours recording it with The Animals.  He didn’t like it, because he didn’t like long, slow numbers, and it was 4 minutes 25 seconds, so he cut it.  And I took a very dim view of that.  And because of my disagreement with him over it, that was the main reason I was taken off Saturday Club and given rather humiliating things to do for a while as a punishment, like organ programmes and Victor Sylvester and (giggles) and Music While You Work,  lots of Music While You Work and after a while, I think they must have felt a bit sorry for me, because I kept on coming up with programme suggestions… and I wanted something a bit more go-ahead than Saturday… I wanted it like Saturday Club – a mixture of live stuff and records – which I think was a good format – but much more forward looking.  And we did the first programme, and we didn’t know what to call it.  And it was Brian Matthew doing it for two hours and that first one was on the 16 July 1964.  And the billing for it was The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, Mark Wynter, Carl Perkins, the Nashville Teens.

 

MD

Quite a line-up!

 

BA

Yeah.  And that was the first one.  That was…  That was the programme that the Beatles came round to my flat, and did the trailers for Bernie’s new ship.  It’s gonna set sail on… I forget what it was now, or what day of the week, but… they did trailers for me.  The mynah bird took part in some of them as well.

 

We did that, and, I’ve forgotten exactly at what stage we found the title for it, but we actually ran a competition to name the new programme, and the most popular one was Top Gear.  This was a very long time before Top Gear the TV programme was ever even heard of.   But it was called Top Gear and it was the first time of Top Gear, which came back later in 1967 with John Peel.  But this was the first Top Gear and I used to go out of my way to get really good billings on that… of fairly forward looking people.  And it was mostly groups.  There were very few session musicians on it… unless it was someone like, I don’t know, P J Proby or Elkie Brookes or someone, you know, that needed a backing.

 

MD

The Beatles on that first session, it was around the time of Hard Day’s Night…

 

BA

The Beatles, on that one, and I put my recording of this which I kept, I put that into the BBC archives in 1990…  And that’s… And this is where they got a lot of the material from for the BBC compilation… the Beatles CD…  They did Long Tall Sally, Things We Said Today, Hard Day’s Night, And I Love Her and… If I Fell, and You Can’t Do That.

 

39:53

 

MD

What I like, however, listening to that…  George Martin was going to come round and to the piano bit… the piano break in Hard Day’s Night, and he didn’t show…

 

BA

I owned up to that, about… on an interview about ten years ago, you must have heard that, because I wouldn’t own up to at first because it was.. I felt quite guilty about it because I’d never done anything underhand, I’d never substituted a record for anything that was said to be live – which was done on a few occasions I think.  Not just with the BBC, but the other organisations.  But I’d always played it dead straight.  But what happened, George Martin was going to come down and do the piano, down at the Playhouse when we recorded it, but he couldn’t make it because he was tied up on another session somewhere, so, and Paul had a go at doing it, (giggles) and he wasn’t very good… And what I did, I did it on a varispeed copy…  I changed the speed of it to get it in pitch with the one that we’d done at the Playhouse, and just that piano solo… in the middle of it, if you listen carefully, there’s an edit.  And I owned up for the first time about ten years ago, that I’d done that.  But, I did do it and…  it’s only for a few seconds, just that little piano solo, and you can only just hear it.  I did the edit myself, by the way.  I was quite proud of it…  really…  (giggles).

 

41:33 End of Roll 2 Interview 1

 

TRANSCRIPTION OF  INTERVIEW OF BERNIE ANDREWS

 

Interview #2 – 6 Feb 2008

Roll 1

DVD Disc 1

 

Interview – Mike Dick (MD)

Interviewee – Bernie Andrews (BA)

 

 

 

Elipses ‘…’ denote omissions of hesitations

 

Timings in red – about every 5:00 minutes or so

 

Tape 1

 

00:25

 

MD

OK Bernie, can you tell me… just to sort of… kick things off again… Tell me what life was like in the 50s… in London.  What are your memories of London in the 50s?

 

BA

My memories in the 50s… it started off with doing two years’ national service in the RAF, which wasn’t in London.  And…

 

MD

Where did you do your national service then?

 

BA

Well to start with in the 50s, I had to do my national service that was two years in the RAF, most of it spent at RAF South Cerney as a direction finder operator.  RTDF Op2. That was… bringing… aircraft…down… on a VHF… direction finding system.  And strangely enough, although I didn’t want to go in, and I resented being called up for national service, once I’d learnt that trade… and got into that trade and doing that… I quite enjoyed it, and I found it a much happier time, looking back on it, and the… the camaraderie of being in the RAF… and I didn’t want to go in at first, and I didn’t… I was regarded as potential officer material, but I didn’t apply for a commission because I didn’t want to be an officer.  I objected on principle so much to being called up… No!.. I don’t want to be an officer… I just want to get it over with.  But once I started doing that work at… on Flying Training Command, I quite enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the company, and I was a lot happier then than I was during most of my time at the BBC.  It’s very str… it’s ironic.

 

MD
What years… when was the national service?

 

BA

The national s… the national service I had to do was two years, from 1952 to 1954.  I ca… I came out of the RAF in October 1954, then went back as a telephone engineer with the GPO… and I went there… went back there until 1957.

 

MD

…coming out of the national service… what kind of world greeted you?

           

03:19

 

BA

When I came out in October 1957, I went straight back to the GPO and carried on where I’d left off… and was made up to… instead of being a Y2YC… that was a youth on a two year training course… Instea… I got made up from being a Y2YC to a T2O… a T2A… that was a technician class 2A… and… I was on the maintenance of automatic switching equipment at Greenwich Exchange in London, near where I went to school in Blackheath Grammar school.  And I spent another three years there… and I thought I’d have another go at doing what I did when I left school, and that was to apply for the… to the BBC… for a job as a Technical Operator.  I was a maintenance engineer, and they weren’t taking new recruits at that time in 1950 when I first applied.  So, I re-applied to the BBC, and got an interview and started working with them as a technical operator in October 1954… er… 1957.

 

MD

Cause I mean that period was… I guess… the kind of beginnings of rock and roll.

 

Hiatus

 

…what were the first things you started to hear?.. Elvis?.. and people like that, I guess?

 

05:28

 

BA
The first things in rock and roll that I remember were in the mid s… mid fifties  with … Tommy Steele and Elvis … Jerry Lee Lewis… I used to love Jerry Lee Lewis … Little Richard…

 

Where would you have heard that then?

 

BA

Bill Hayley and the Comets…  I would have heard that through records that I would have bought… or… on… radio.  Probably more Radio Luxembourg than anything.  We used to listen to Radio Luxembourg quite a lot on 1293 before it was 208… and… but before that…  I used to get a lot of records… I’d quite catholic taste in pop music that I did like.  I liked a lot of things like Mitch Miller… and… I used to like a lot of trad and Dixieland stuff, like Pee Wee Hunt… er… the Firehouse Five plus Two and things like that… American Dixieland records we used to love all that… but…  I used to like most pop records, really.

 

MD

Of course the difference between then and now is that… you’re bombarded with music from all… areas that you go into… press is full of it, tv’s full of it… the radio stations are full of it, but in those days, there was a limited amount of presumably pop music you’d actually hear or even be able to read about… I mean how… how did you discover all these artists?

 

07:25

 

BA

In those days… I didn’t used to buy… the music papers like NME or anything like that… or Melody Maker, I didn’t even know they existed really.  It was all I could to do was to save up four (shillings) and tenpence ha’penny to get a record… a 78… or, if it was HMV, Columbia or Parlophone, it was three (shillings) and sevenpence… The four and tenpenny ha’penny ones were the American ones Brunswick… Capitol… and… London.  They were the… they were the three black labels they used to go for.  Black in colour of the label…  And most of those records, apart from Pee Wee Hunt, that got broken at school… I’ve still got.  Actually, I’ve still got Pee Wee Hunt.  Cause I… I bought another copy of it.

 

MD
Did you listen to this… you heard this on Radio Luxembourg?  What about the BBC?.. the radio stations… what stuff were they playing?

 

BA

The BBC in those days… were very restricted in the pop music that they played… and it was generally very middle of the road pop music.  Until 1957-58.  But before then, you very rarely heard even Elvis Presley… In fact, they… they didn’t have many record programmes, really.  And those that were, were very… they were mainly classical and milit… very light music type records… partly because they were very restricted for needletime, and they thought it should be used… more wisely, and not waste it on pop.

 

09:30

 

Hiatus

 

14:50

 

MD
OK Bernie, can you tell me how you came to join the BBC?

 

15:04

 

BA
When I… when I was demobbed from doing the national service in 1954, I went back to the GPO for about three years as a telephone engineer, and then in 1957, I thought I’d have another go at doing what I did when I left school, and that was to apply to the BBC as an engineer or technical operator.  I just wanted to work in studios with microphones and recorders, and things like that. At that time, they were taking on new staff, which they weren’t in 1950 when I first applied – because of the… everyone at the end of WWI… er WWII being taken in as… as engineering staff… I got invited for an interview… up in London… as a technical operator, and got it.  It meant a ten bob (shillings) a week… drop in wages, and I went from ten pounds ten shillings a week with the GPO to ten pounds a week, starting as a probationary technical officer… probationary technical operator, with the BBC, and I started that in October 1957.

 

MD
What was the BBC like in those days?  When you first arrived.  What were your first impressions?

 

BA

Well, I was so pleased to be working there… you know, everything… I liked most things… although there were obv… obviously I had reservations about the BBC-ish type things… One of my reservations was that it appeared not to like pop music much… So, once I started working as an operator and a recording engineer and more so as a tape editor, I got involved in programmes… and working on programmes on a regular basis, because of my enthusiasm and liking for Top Gear… for… for pop music, I got put on working on programmes like Saturday Club and Skiffle Club… and things involving pop music… because I got so involved with them myself, and that was appreciated quite a lot in some cases, because the producers working on them had no interest in pop music at all, and they were glad to get somebody in there that… was interested… and liked pop music.  And that’s how I got involved in Saturday Club really.

 

MD
Can you tell me just a bit about the… how you got involved in the first place… how you started to work on Saturday Club?

 

BA

After my initial training… as a general tape operator… as a general technical operator, I specialised in tape editing… reel-to-reel tape editing with the old fashioned razor blade, and I used to specialise in editing music, and… I actually got put on…

 

Hiatus

 

19:31

 

BA

I spent the first couple of years just doing general tape… operating, but mainly doing… tape recording and tape editing with the old razor blade and cutting tapes up and I specialised in editing music.  And the first programme that I put on… that I got put on regularly because of my enthusiasm for the music and the people taking part in it was Saturday Club.  And I used to edit the pre-recorded inserts for Saturday Club, which were recorded during the week, and I used to edit them on a Thursday for playing them in on a Saturday, and then I got involved on the unit that used to operate the machines… the tape machines called EMI TR90s, and they were… that’s because I was in… I got into the unit called XP Unit.  XP actually meant transportable tape, so, I was an XP Operator, and programmes like Saturday Club that used to play pre-recorded sessions in on the live transmission… we always used to… be in the studio on the transmission playing in the live inserts… the pre-recorded inserts.

 

MD
… What sort of qualities did you need to do that kind of work (engineering)?

 

21:22

BA

One of the qualities that you needed to do that work at that… that time was concentration… A thing very much lacking in me at the moment… (laughs)… and I wish I still had the ability to concentrate and… and do that sort of work.  But, once you get to your mid-seventies things like that… you remember… you could do it, but you can’t still do it.

 

You had to think of an awful lot… during the transmission.  I had to think of a bit extra because one of the additional things that I used to… I wasn’t supposed to do it, but what I used to do on nearly all the transmissions was… I had a third TR90 machine… tape machine… which I used to say that I needed there as an extra one in an emergency in case one of the others packed up, but I actually used it to record the whole of the output of the programme… of Saturday Club.  Because, I thought if we’re having people like Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent and Little Richard people like that doing live sessions for us, I thought these things should have been kept, not just recorded one week and wiped the next week as though… they were of no value at all.  And most of the stuff in Saturday Club I thought was worth keeping, and recording, which the BBC never did.   But… And I used to unofficially record it at seven and a half (inches per second)… or the bits… the best bits that I thought… especially if they were visiting American artists… which was quite a coup to actually get.  And officially, they were nearly all wiped within six weeks of the recording.  Partly because of an agreement with the MU (Musician’s Union).  But… the BBC put no value on them at all.  In fact, I got told off once or twice for keeping tapes.  Not keeping them myself, personally, but even keeping them in my office.

 

MD

… Presumably the attitude was that pop music was ephemeral it would be a passing phase and that it would… it would die a death… Presumably, you saw… heard something or saw something that… meant that you thought this was… of value?

 

23:55

 

BA

Most people in the BBC, particularly in management put no value at all to pop music… none at all.  They regarded it as a necessary evil… in a rather patronising way.  And they would much rather not have had to bother with it, but… they had no choice after a while, I think… to cater for popular demand.

 

MD
But you talked about acts like Little Richard and… Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent… these are kind of historic recordings.  Just tell me what it was like at that point working with these artists.

 

BA

I used to go down to recordings of very early Saturday Clubs, in 1958, when it first started… because Jimmy Grant the first producer of it, used to tell me who he had in the recording sessions on a Monday and Tuesday that week.  And he used to let me … go down and sitting… sit in on the sessions.  And going to some of those sessions like… Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran I remember very well.  I used to think that all of those sessions should have been kept.  But unfortunately they weren’t.  But to me, it was like… all of them would like going to an Elvis Presley concert… to go down and meet those people, and I very often did… fortunately.  And then when I took over producing Saturday Club, I obviously did get to meet them more regularly and get involved in it.

 

25:50

 

MD
Tell me about the production team… working on Saturday Club…  I mean… the kind of characters… the people who you fondly remember now.

 

BA

Most of the rest of the staff working on Saturday Club… the secretary and the other… the studio managers… and very often the producer… they used to wind me up about liking that sort of music.  But once… once when Jimmy Grant was on holiday… there was another producer called John Kingdon, who used to produce Guitar Club, and he took over producing it for about two or three weeks, and he used to rely on me to tell him how the programme went and, because he had no particular interest in pop music himself, he used to ask me quite a lot about it and I was only too pleased to contribute it… to contribute to the programme.  And we always used to go over to the BBC Club after the programme on a Saturday and on the third Saturday of this particular time when he… when Jimmy Grant was on leave… over at the club we were having a drink and this relief producer said to me “Tell me Bernie, have you ever thought of being a producer yourself?” and I thought he was taking the piss… And I said, “Oh yeah…” and I laughed.  And he said, “No, seriously!”  And he said, “Do you feel like an attachment to Light Ent department or pop music department?”  And I thought he was joking.  Anyway the next… the following week, I had an appointment… I had an interview… to go and see the controller, who actually was the head of Light Entertainment department.  An Australian band leader called Jim Davidson.  And I went and saw him, and I still thought it was a wind up, and he said, “How do you… (I’m not going to try and do an Australian accent)…   He said, “How do you fancy having an attachment to the Light Ent department.”  So, I said, “Well, you know… if it‘s possible…”  Anyway, to cut a long story short, within about a week, I had a three month attachment, and that involved doing sessions to Saturday Club.  And I never went back to being an engineer after that.  I kept on… the attachment was extended and then when a vacancy for a job came up, I applied for it and I got it.  And at the time, I was the youngest producer in Light Ent department.  It upset a few of my engineering colleagues who later, got their own back on me… in very snide ways … because…  A lot of people didn’t like it… either the other engineers and a lot of studio managers, that’s balance engineers, and a lot of people didn’t like it because I was the only person… I was the only one in engineering department that had ever gone to being a producer without being made a studio manager.  And normally, you had to be a studio manager before you were made a producer… for the experience and the general background.  And, I was the first one to go from engineering to being a producer, and… which was very nice, in a way but… it upset a lot of people.

 

30:10

 

MD

Do you remember the first… first Saturday Club you produced?

 

BA
I remember the first Saturday Club I produced.  People really resented me doing it… until I got a more amenable set of studio managers and balance engineers.  I didn’t want the same lot anyway because they weren’t much good, and they had no affinity to producing… to producing pop music at all… unless… unless it had… a full brass section… unless there were big bands… the sort of music they personally liked.  It was complete rubbish to them… and it didn’t do a lot of good for early recordings of pop music at the BBC.  But I gradually hand-picked all the studio managers and balance engineers… after a while, and got them into the way that I wanted them working and balancing and I found that made a heck of a difference to doing recording sessions, because it made it much easier for… for the artists and groups to actually… do the recording sessions… and the live sessions as well… to having a sympathetic balance engineer, which they’d never been used to.  And with a combination of a much more competent balance engineer, and the attitude I had producing them… like allowing them to come up and hear a playback of most of the things that they did to see if they were happy with it as well as… as well as myself and the balance engineer… I wanted them to be happy with it so that they would do other sessions for me, instead of being just very disappointed when it went out on the air.  And quite often they regarded it as being quite harmful to the sales of their record if it wasn’t a good… cover.  It was important to me to… to get a decent balance on it, and to get it more like a commercial recording session if possible, even though we were very short… short of time.

 

MD

Tell me about the time factor…  tell me what was a typical session… how you break that up then?  In terms of the time spent on working with a group or with an artist?

 

32:55

 

BA

The problem was… when we were working on producing recording sessions, say for Saturday Club and later… all the other sort of sessions… At least one of the items, probably more than that, were covers of their latest single record, and it was important to them, that that didn’t do the sales of their new record more harm than good.  And that’s why a lot of artists and groups were very reluctant to do BBC recordings… but at the same time, they needed the other department in the BBC, which was gramophone department, responsible for the record programmes, they wanted their records played.  So, it was difficult… they were between a rock and a hard place really… on whether they did live sessions.  So, it was important for them to have balance engineers that gave a comparable s… end product to their records.  Now that was… the problem there was that they’d spend hours and hours doing… in a commercial recording studio… they’d spend hours doing one song.  But we had three and a half hours to record up to fourteen numbers… in the ea… in the early stages of recording.  And it was a three and a half hour session for which they got paid about seven pound per man, so they didn’t do it for the money… and then they ended up with a very mediocre… sound… on their… on their… latest record, usually.

 

34:52

 

 

 

But… I used to try and make this up by booking them as a double session… in other words, to record enough music for two programmes.  And then we had double the time, because officially it was two sessions… and I used to, unofficially… used to vary the two programmes by one item… so that they did… they actually repeated four numbers… and did one number differently for the other session.

 

MD

What I’m interested in is… you  hand-picked the people you wanted to work with.  What kind of atmosphere are you trying to create when you’re working with these artists… I mean within the studio setup… what kind of atmosphere are you trying to create?

 

BA

After a while doing these sessions, I managed to get the sort of engineers working for me… the balance engineers, who were called studio managers, but they were balance engineers.  I used to try and get them hand-picked, including the recording engineer as well, because that made a difference having a co-operative recording engineer, and, I used… I managed to get a little group of enthusiastic, knowledgeable, competent engineers working in pop music.  And that developed after a while, and strangely enough, that group of engineers or studio managers that formed in the early 60s… that developed throughout the 60s and nearly all of those people, including secretaries as well… nearly  all of those people ended up either as programme controllers like Johnny Beerling, or Frances Line who was my secretary at one time, and it seemed that all of those people that took that interest in the work and in the music at that time, all ended up in making a very big contribution, mainly to Radio 1, in recording sessions and developing that… group of people that contr… made such a contribution to the development of pop music in the BBC.  And they were all… they all came from that central sort of hub.  Most of them, all very good personal friends as well… and they were… they were like a particular group… a really good group that formed in the BBC.

 

MD

What sort of skills were you passing on to them… you were like the… fulcrum of all this…  you’re the producer… How do you work with people… develop that team.  That  team feel  to the whole thing?

 

38:32

 

BA
Having said that… although there was this group of very co-operative and friendly, knowledgeable people,… engineers and secretaries and all the people working in…  the people that didn’t… get involved in that, or chose not to be involved in it… at times, became almost hostile to those that were involved in it, and it was.. there was like a distinct attitude of friendlies and non-friendlies really.  And some of the non-friendlies could be quite… hostile… to put it mildly… to… to some of the people that were more involved… and… there was a lot of resentment… to people that got on well and… sometimes they’d be very unco-operative if they got to work with the people that did choose to do that work.  I can remember lots of… well… quite a few incidents… where they’d make quite a lot of trouble over… stirring up problems and conflict… with the way that things were being done.  There was a lot of resentment for the time that I used to spend doing double sessions, and it was regarded by some people as wasting studio time… and people used to say, “Why does Bernie Andrews have seven hours to do something that the rest of us have thirty… three and a half hours?..”  It wasn’t that I did have it, I just used to push the boundaries on what was… officially right and what was wrong… But it was still… they still got paid for it… and it was still OK to do that, but it… it was… it was a way of pushing things to get round these unreasonable Musicians’ Union… rules, and indeed some of the BBC rules.  But…

 

41:16 End of  Roll 1  Interview 2

TRANSCRIPTION OF BECTU INTERVIEW OF BERNIE ANDREWS

 

Interview #2 – 6 Feb 2008

Roll 2

DVD Disc 2

 

Interview – Mike Dick (MD)

Interviewee – Bernie Andrews (BA)

 

 

Elipses ‘…’ denote omissions of hesitations

 

 

Tape 1

 

00:20

 

MD

You were a man with a vision…  you had a clear vision of what you were trying to achieve in the studio, could you describe what it was you were trying to achieve and some of the issues that cropped up as a result of all that?

 

BA

 When I first started working on Saturday Club as an XP Operator, and as an informal visitor to some of the sessions that Jimmy Grant used to do, I couldn’t believe the way that… the restrictive way that they had to work within the time and the money spent on it.  The budgets for pop music programmes were pitiful, about seven pounds per man for a three and a half hour session, so they didn’t do it for the money.  And everything had to be done within a three and a half hour session and that was either half an hour of material or up to about seven… about fourteen musical items.

 

And if you compared that with the time spent on a commercial recording, it was laughable.  Now this all goes back to the fact that the Musician’s Union regarded as an utter privilege to allow the BBC to make any form of recording of music of any sort.  Even a half an hour programme, like Music While You Work… they never allowed things like Music While You Work to be recorded even.  That was always half an hour live… live… straight off!  So even any form of recording was regarded as a privilege.  But the restrictions put on it were so impossible to work with that things had to be recorded straight off without a break between.  And when the Musician’s Union eventually agreed to what they called ‘item recording’ that was a separate cue for every particular item on the recording, that was one… a bit of a breakthrough, but it was still very difficult to work with.  And one of the ways round it that I could… I wanted to try, when I first… started producing, and when I had a say in it myself over the bookings was to book a group for a double session, which gave me… which gave them a double fee… fourteen pounds instead of seven…  big deal!  And it allowed a total of seven hours to record.  But I used to bend the rules a little bit, and I didn’t used to record twice the amount of material, because I used to double up on some of it and put the same things out on the second transmission, so that made it a bit more workable.  But it gave you that more flexibility and time to work on and it made it that much easier… It made the groups much more agreeable to doing sessions, because the last things the Beatles and Stones and groups like that wanted to do was to do a BBC recording for whatever programme it was and for it to do their latest single more harm than good, and I had a verbal agreement with most of the groups and their managers that I wouldn’t let anything go out on one of the sessions I did with them if they or I thought it was going to do their record or do them more harm than good.  And I found that verbal agreement and understanding worked.  And… but… the fact that it got that a lot of really… box office type groups and artists would do sessions for me because they knew that. 

 

05:03

 

Unfortunately, that had a bad effect and there was a backlash on that… from other people within the BBC… the trouble was… I was working that way and spending that more time on doing sessions.  Other producers thought “Why does Bernie Andrews get all this time?” as though it was a privilege to me… and “why do people… why is it that people will do things for Bernie Andrews and not for us?”  Who does he think he is?  And it created quite a lot of bad feeling unfortunately.  One particular example, I can remember I was doing a double session at… in a studio at… in Piccadilly with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, they had a Doo Dah then…   [as well as?...] a Bonzo Dog.  And it went on till about half past twelve.  This got exaggerated terribly… you know, we were still in the studio at two o’clock in the morning and it… it was half past twelve.  But that turned out to be one of the most memorable sessions in the BBC archives.  And it had been written about and talked about… and they’d done stuff on that session that… before they’d recorded it… like… oh, what was it called… the thingy torso show…  the Craig Torso Show, which they wrote specially for the programme, Top Gear.  But things like that cre… gave me so many headaches, because of resentment, that I was working in… at that time, and spending that much, so much time on it that the Controller… or he was actually the music organiser for light entertainment the MOLE M-O-L-E, he heard about it, so he thought well in that case, if he can afford to spend all that much time, we’ll give him some more work to do…  and the fact that I was already spending over seventy hours a week doing those sessions didn’t mean a thing to him, because that was only pop music, and it didn’t need all that time, so he decided, on the Wednesday morning… after working until midnight on the Tuesday night doing a session… he decided to give me a Music While You Work… live Music While You Work, starting at seven o’clock on the Wednesday morning.  So I asked him to reconsider that at the time and told him why, and he regarded that as backing down too much and he obviously… he didn’t… decided not to back down… and I complained very bitterly about doing it and he said if you don’t it, you’ll be taken off Top Gear.  And I didn’t do it, and I was taken off.

 

08:35

 

MD

Mike Dick highlights the range of music that was going out on Top Gear

 

Hiatus in interview

 

09:48

 

In the time that we were allowed to do these things, although people at the time thought I was wasting time, and spending too much time on it, I still had three hours of programme to fill every weekend with John Peel.  When Top Gear first came back with John Peel in October ’57…  in October ’67.  When Top Gear first came back in October ’67 the sort of sessions we were doing took a long time to record… when you think of the… this is the first few weeks… this is just one programme for Top Gear on the… on doing six sessions a week.  The first one was Pink Floyd, Traffic, Tomorrow and Keith West, The Move, Tim Rose and Big Maybelle.  The second one was Lou Rawls, Maxine Brown, Procol Harum, The Idle Race, Denny Laine and Arthur Brown.  The next one was Hendrix, the Bee Gees, Johnny Young, Incredible String Band, The Who and Skip Bifferty.  And so it went on.  It was… we had six bands like that every week to record.  It takes time.  And it…  just recording one single for a lot of those bands would take the same amount as it would take for us to record a whole week’s programme.  And… they are the sort of problems that we had in getting round this problem in getting recordings up to a reasonable standard for broadcast that the BBC were quite happy not to bother with.  But it bothered me!..  on the quality of them, and that’s why I spent so much time on them.

 

MD

The other interesting thing is the fact that OK, you’ve got George Martin working with the Beatles, you’ve got Andrew Oldham working with the Stones, you’ve got Phil Spector working with his kind of groups you’ve got the Motown guys... you were dealing with all those sort of elements… you know, and the time factor was  a crucial one, but also style wise, I mean they had a sound that they dealt with and that was their particular sound.  You had to try and replicate all those different sounds within the space of… you know… a matter of hours.  I mean again, that must have put enormous pressures on you.  How did you handle that?

 

12:44

BA

Another thing that did give me problems at that time was… one of the ways that I thought of making the sessions better generally was… if I was recording the Beatles I’d give George Martin a call before to say, I’m doing a session with them, would you like to come down, and I’d invite George Martin down… and likewise with the Stones, I’d invite Andrew Loog Oldham down and any of the groups or artists own recording… A&R men I would invite down to the studio because, for one thing, most of the time they would want to come down, the group would be much happier if they had their own recording manager down there and it would save unnecessary time experimenting on how they actually did… did it in their recording studio.  It was no skin off my nose to do this, I wanted to get the job done.  And it didn’t bother me the fact that I had the assistance of someone like George Martin.  I was very glad of it, actually.  And I found that used to help an awful lot.  It used to… they were…  their own recording managers were able to speak for them as well, instead of playing everything back to them, because they knew…  the Beatles would know that George Martin was in there, and he… he would know if it was up to standard.  The only time that George Martin wasn’t down at a rec… at a Beatles recording studio is… is when we recorded Lady Madonna, and we had the piano bit in the middle that… that Paul McCartney was supposed to do, and… he wasn’t very well that day and he didn’t… there were a few…

 

HIATUS

 

15:24

 

Yeah, I was only too pleased to get their own recording managers down there, because it was certainly no skin off my nose to… to have them there advising me and helping me on how they did their original recording in their own studios… and it saved a lot of time… and it gave the artists themselves… the groups… a lot of confidence… the fact they knew their own manager was there.  But it was frowned upon by BBC management quite a lot because we don’t need outside producers coming in and telling us how to do radio programmes.  It wasn’t that we were doing radio programmes, we were doing the same job, in a way, as a commercial record producer…  and, it was unrealistic to pretend that we were able to put enough expertise in every particular artist as was put in in their individual recording  in their own studios.  So, I don’t think it was a bad thing that… I did that, really.

 

MD

One thing that would strike me about that is that you’re dealing with, you know, record producers with quite big egos… you know… that had a way of working…  people like Andrew Loog Oldham and Mickey Most and people like that… you know, how did you kind of get that balance right in terms of what they were looking for, and also what you wanted to get out of it as well?

 

BA

Who was the American producer?  Phil Spector…  Yeah I did sessions involving groups own producers like Andrew Loog Oldham and George Martin… even Phil Spector, but… and you might say well, wasn’t there a clash of opinions?  In the way that things should be done, and my answer to that is that… one of the qualifications of being a radio producer would be dealing with people.. as well as you… and did… and that includes your listeners.  And if you know how to deal with people and create a mutual respect, that helps an awful lot and it gives the group and the artists that you’re working with a lot of confidence, it saves a lot of time and you end up with a much better product that is the recording and it doesn’t matter about people’s egos it’s the end product that counts

 

MD

Which record producers did you admire most?

 

BA

I’m trying to think of producers…  in the very early days… for Decca… oh, Pete Attwood.  Do your remember Pete?  It was Pete Attwood that died… isn’t it?  Committed suicide…

 

The first producer that I used to work with was a producer that used to be at Decca in the early 60s, and his name was Pete Attwood, and it was him that first gave me tips on getting a good drum sound… and I can remember the… the drummer that we used to use that used to get this very tight close drum sound and that was Bobby Graham and he’s probably been on more pop records in this coun… in the UK, and he used to come down to a lot of sessions and help me… that were of the Stigwood organisation…  Robert Stigwood used to use him a lot as a producer and he gave me a lot of tips on balancing because I used to ask him how he got particular sounds on records and he used to come down and help me, and… Peter Attwood his name was but tragically he died very… at a very young age, he was only in his twenties… I think he took his own life actually.  That led on to other producers…  that… either the producers or sometimes just the group’s manager would come down and work with them.  But I usually used to get some sort of representative of the group down there with them, especially if it was their first session to give the group confidence.  Cause there was this attitude in the BBC that they were doing pop artists and groups a favour in giving them a broadcast and it… there was a very patronising attitude to a lot of pop musicians and groups, and I didn’t used to like that at all, because I used to book groups because I wanted them on the programme, because they contributed, not because I was doing them a favour.

 

21:49

 

MD

Who were the ones who stood out for you on those sessions?

 

One of the most successful sessions as a first broad…  were there were two that I can remember as a first broadcast that turned out really well.  One of them… The first one was David Bowie and that was his first radio session that I did with Arthur Greenslade MDing it as the backing group… that turned out very well.  Another one which is still gone down as one of my archives was The Idle Race and only a  day or so ago,  I had an enquiry about that session from America, someone in America, probably through Jeff Lynne, to ask if I would do an interview over the recording of that session which was done in 1968 which they regarded as having them started off as being a popular group, which later led on to ELO… didn’t it?.. or some of them.  But it was only a couple of days ago that I had an enquiry about this group because they remembered it so well.  I’ve still got the running order of it where Jeff Lynne doodled… did a flower-power type doodle… over the front page of the running order.  I’ve trailed off a bit there.

 

Hiatus

 

MD

I’ll take you back to the early 60s… right on the cusp… to… I’m thinking the Beatles have just come back from Hamburg.  Can you remember your first… earliest memories of the Beatles, to when you first heard about them?

 

No… No… I can, but it’s not… It wasn’t something like first doing David Bowie or… Idle Race or something…  They were universally recognised, much more than…

 

25:03

 

MD

I remember when I was at school the first time I ever heard of the Beatles… before they had a recording contract

 

BA

No.  I wasn’t aware of them before other people.  It wouldn’t be true to say that.

 

MD

So when did you first encounter them then?

 

BA

My first con… first personal contact with them apart from doing a recording session was… the personal manager of George Harrison, who was a guy called Terry Doran, he was also a business partner of Brian Epstein and Brian Epstein and Terry Doran had this motor company… car sales company in Hounslow called BriDor Cars… Bri of Brian and Dor of Doran.  I can’t remember where I first met Terry Doran, but we were sharing a flat in Shepherd’s Market in central London.  This would have been in about 1963, and the Beatles used to come round to that flat quite a lot, particularly George… because he was very friendly with Terry, obviously.  But they all used to come round at various times… We used to have a mynah bird… in the… in the hall by the front door, and it used to talk to people as they came in and said, “Hello” and all that but he couldn’t… this bird couldn’t tell the difference between the Beatles because they all looked the same to him, and when Paul came round for the first time, the bird said to Paul, “Hello Ringo!”  (giggles)… and Paul was quite offended at the time  Or he made out he was… he probably wasn’t.  He was probably just keeping a straight face… to wind us up.

 

MD

You were a radio producer at that point.  So how did that first contact happen?  Was it through Brian, or how did they first…  because it must have been about Please Please Me time or that period?  Was it?

 

28:17

 

BA

Yeah, well.  I knew them before then… I think… I can’t… the first time I met them as a group was on their first Saturday Club session and I think, if I remember rightly, I did all of their sessions, although the records sometimes get it wrong, but I did do all of their sessions (on Saturday Club?) with the assistance of George Martin, and Brian Epstein used to come down on the sessions as well and… Brian Epstein, obviously knowing Terry Doran, that’s how I got to know them socially as well, cause Brian Epstein often used to come round to the flat, and I used to go to… There used to be a lot of parties going on then.  Once you knew one of them, you got in on all the… all the parties.  And… I went to a party at Brian Epstein’s once and Tommy Cooper was there (giggles) and I couldn’t believe it was him, cause I’d never met him before and (giggles) he… Brian Epstein said, “Oh Tommy, this is a friend of mine, Bernie,” and he said (in Tommy Cooper voice) , “Hello Bernie.  How are you?  How’d you do?”  He said, “This is Dove the wife… Don’t laugh!...”  and I obviously started laughing.  He said “How are you then?” and I said, “To tell you the truth, I’ve got new shoes on and they hurt.”  And he said “I’ll tell you what to do.”  He said, “When you get home… you’re going home aren’t you?”  I said, “Yeah.”  “When you get home,” he said, “You take ‘em off… well, you’d take ‘em off anyway, wouldn’t you? But take ‘em off,” he said, “and get some newspaper and ram it!.. ram it up… ram it up…. the toe of the shoe.  Get it?  Wet it down, and get some more wet newspaper and ram it up… and ram it in…”  and I started laughing.  And he said, “Do you want to know how to do this or not?”  And he was deadly serious.  And I couldn’t stop laughing.  And he got really nasty and he walked away, and he said, “If you’re going to…. If you’re not going to listen,…” and he got… he just walked away, and that was… (giggles).

 

31:01

 

Hiatus

 

 31:40

 

BA

There seemed to be a lot of resentment because… because I used to book nearly all of Brian Epstein’s artists… almost like a regular thing…  because… you know… if I took one of his newer artists… providing they were up to it … I wouldn’t have booked… artists that weren’t good enough to do it, but…  Because I used to book his lesser known artists, and his newer artists, and give them a chance… he’d let me boo… he’d let me regularly book all of his artists, including Gerry and the Pacemakers and Cilla Black and the whole lot… obviously with the Beatles but this caused quite a bit of resentment amongst other producers…  you know “Why can Bernie Andrews have Brian Epstein’s artists and not me?”  But the answer was that I used to take… spend time on them… and make sure they were happy with the sessions.  That’s why they did it for me.  It wasn’t just a personal thing.

 

MD

I was trying to get a feel for what the Beatles were like in the studio in those early days?

 

BA

They used to muck about quite a lot in the studio on sessions, but not excessively, not as much as some groups would have done.  And they were generally very professional, and very good on sessions and I used to like working with them, because they were very professional the way they went about it and they used to do good sessions for me.  And they cared about the sessions and used to take an interest in them.  I once had to tick off John Lennon because we had a break for him to go… he wanted to go to the toilet, and when he came back, I looked out in the studio and he had this toilet roll in his hand and he was showing it to Paul, and I could hear what he was saying, and he said, “Look, it’s got BBC on it… property of the BBC” and I went… and I thought, “They’ve nicked the toilet roll from the loo…”  So I went out with a straight face, and I said, “Excuse me, have you just taken that?” and he said, “Yes,” and I said, “I’m sorry, it’s more than I can let you… I can’t let you do this, it’s more than my job’s worth.”  With a dead straight face, and they didn’t know whether I was serious or not.  They gave it back to me.  And I kept it afterwards.  And I forgot to give it back to them and tell them I was only joking…  I’ve still got that toilet roll.  And it’s still got property of the BBC on it.

 

35:00

 

MD

Obviously there was a great deal of affection between you and the Beatles over the years?

 

BA

Oh yeah… yea… particularly with George and John actually.  Some time in the 70s… late 70s I think it was… John Lennon did an Old Grey Whistle Test interview with Bob Harris I think it was.  And Tony King… he actually… he was in New York at the time when he did it, he must have done it over the satellite, and next day, Tony King, his personal manager at the time, phoned me at home and said “Did you see the interview last night with John,?” so I said, “Yeah,” so he said, “What did you think of it?”  I said, “I thought it came over very well,” So he said, “Will you do us a favour?  Will you tell John that?  Because he didn’t think it came over very well , and he’s worried about it, and he thinks that people in the UK wouldn’t have liked it very much,” and I said, “Oh no!  It was great…”  and he said, “If I give you his home address, would you drop him a note, and he said, “Don’t type it.  Do it by hand.  Drop him a note and tell him what you just told me.”  So I said, “Yeah OK.”  And I sent him a note saying Dear John… blah blah blah… thought he came over very well, and when he got the letter, when he saw Tony King, he said, “Tony, you’ll never guess who I had a letter from,” so he said, “No,”  So he said, I had a letter from Bernie Andrews about the Old Grey Whistle Test interview.  And then he said, “Fancy him remembering me.”  (laughs).  I know the way he meant it.  He meant it in a way that I would have remembered him work-wise, and thought about writing, and he obviously… Tony obviously hadn’t told him that he’d tipped me off about… that he was worried about it.  But he wrote me a lovely letter back, John, saying “Thank you very much for the letter… John… it brought a lump to my throat of which I do not know.”  Signed, Winston O’Boogie, which was his normal signature.

 

MD

I was going through the list of Saturday Club artists… staggering… list of who’s who.  Was there anybody who didn’t appear on the show?

 

BA

The only … the only artists… the only artist that want to… that… well, there were plenty that didn’t appear.  The only artist that… of any real name… really… that I’ve always thought were the only ones that I didn’t work with was either Elvis Presley or Bob Dylan.  There were very few others that I can remember.

 

MD

Presley I can understand… he was never in the country.  But Dylan was backwards and forwards… friendly with the Beatles… Lennon in particular…  Any reason why Dylan never made it?

 

BA

I seem… It seems silly not remembering this, but other people have told me that they thought I did work with Lennon once… sorry,

 

It sounds a bit silly saying this, but other people have told me that I did work with John… with Bob Dylan once but I don’t remember it strangely enough.  If I did… and it was at a time… when he went and saw somebody that was living in Crouch End, which was near where I was living in Muswell Hill,and somebody said that I was there and that I’d worked with him at… at the same time.  But I can’t remember.  I can’t imagine having worked with Bob Dylan and not remembered it, but… people have told me that I did work with him.  But for some reason I can’t remember.  Sounds silly, I know…

 

MD

… a big story about Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart… in Crouch End…

 

BA

It was at that time I think, yes.  That’s when he was over here.  I don’t know when that would have been but it would have been some time in the late 70s.. I would think.  But, I can’t be sure.

 

40:35 End of Roll 2 Interview 2

ANSCRIPTION OF BECTU INTERVIEW OF BERNIE ANDREWS

 

Interview #2 – 6 Feb 2008

Roll 3

 

Interview – Mike Dick (MD)

Interviewee – Bernie Andrews (BA)

 

 

Elipses ‘…’ denote omissions or hesitations

 

Timings about every 5:00 minutes or so

 

00:08

 

MD

I suppose the question is really… you know musicians, deal with the live recording… and the equipment you had at the BBC at the time… what were the issues around the equipment?

 

BA

Yeah, another problem was the equipment that we had… we were expected to… use… and make recordings out of it was out of the ark.  It was fine for ordinary speech, and for one-mic classical music, balancing and things like that but as far as anything to do with any correction or eq-ing… or presence or top… or bass… anything like that… it was right out of the question in the early days… in the early 60s… and to get… just to get a decent echo was difficult.  But to get any presence on vocals… eventually, as a real special favour, one studio, which was the Paris Cinema in Lower Regent Street, we actually had a Quad pre-amp where you could put top and bass lift on, which they called a pres…  a presence unit, and then they extended that to a few more studios.  And then they put another presence unit on… but this all took years… but, and in the meantime, groups were coming in and they couldn’t believe this archaic equipment, and for a long time…

 

I was trying to book The Who for a session, and they just said no, I’m sorry, we don’t want to work with your equipment, and it… you just can’t get the right sound for us.  And I wouldn’t take no for an answer on that, so I got… it took me a long time to do it but I got special permission out of the programme budget to hire a commercial studio called De Lane Lea Studios, in London, and I hired that for one afternoon to do a session for Top Gear, and during that session they recorded jingles for Radio 1 which are still in the archives…  and they did all these, sort of… I’m not going to try and imitate them but…  they’re still… they’re still very much… like one of the most played archives of any BBC session, as well as doing some really good numbers for us… And that was the first time an outside studio had ever been used in the BBC.  I don’t think it happened very often anyway… I don’t know whether it does now but I think that paved the way for other improvements being made in equipment, which were much… very badly needed, and long overdue.

 

MD

I suppose another thing was really kind of winning the trust as a producer, you really had to kind of build that trust… like you said earlier on…  you were doing a… you were going to do a good job for them…?

 

BA

I was very surprised when I got an OK to book these… this studio because it was quite a precedent for the BBC.  And again, that created bad feeling with other producers and they were saying, “If Bernie Andrews can do it, why can’t we…  why can’t we all book Outside Studios.  It gave me another problem then… coping with that.

 

MD

You come across as being the guy who… really pushing the barriers at that point…

 

BA

Oh, I was doing that all the time, yeah. … I did regard that literally as a mission… in the BBC to do that and to do something about what I saw was very overdue, and it meant sticking me head above the turret very much, and upsetting people… and complaining about the way that we had to work… and the lack of facilities and lack of funds and everything… and it upset a lot of people that… I think we got somewhere on it eventually but… it was qu… it was an uphill battle.

 

MD

Can you tell me about the circumstances around you leaving Saturday Club?

 

4:44

 

BA

Well in … in 1964 I’d been doing Saturday Club for about a couple of years, and we’d got to the stage that… although I was mainly responsible for producing the programme as a whole…  I used to do all the bookings for it… and two of the three recording sessions for it each week, and I used to choose the records every other week.  But Jimmy Grant, who was the first producer, and actually got it… set it up on the road in 1958, he, so that he still got a supply of records, he used to insist on choosing the records every other week, and go in for the transmission so that he still kept his hand in on the programme.  So he had final decision over the editing of the final programme.  And one week, in 1964… May or June 1964, I had booked a session with the Animals… I knew they had a new record coming out and one of the t… one of the numbers that we spent more than half the session on… because I knew it was their new record was House of the Rising Sun.  And we spent a long time on that…  and we….got it up to pretty well matching the record.  But that Saturday, Jimmy Grant had the final say over what went out on the final programme, and I was listening at home and it got to the end of the programme and… I thought, what’s happened to House of the Rising Sun?  And I phoned him at home when he got home and asked him, and he said “No, it was far too long…” and he said, he didn’t want that in the programme, and he said it was all about a brothel anyway, and it was far too long and it was too slow.  It was 4 minutes 25 seconds, so he took it out and I wasn’t at all pleased at him, and I said, “Did you realise it was their new single coming up?” and he said, “I don’t care… I didn’t want it in the programme.”  And he cut it, and we had an argument over it, eh… and the following week, because I’d argued with him, and protested over him taking it out I was taken off the programme, and that was it.  And I was absolutely devastated… when they did that, and I thought it was very unfair.

 

And from there I was put on really sort of programmes and sessions and things like The Organist Entertains and Brass Band programmes… things that they knew I wouldn’t like doing, and it would humiliate me, and I was put on a lot of things… literally, to punish me for arguing with my senior producers.  But that’s the reason I was taken off.  That’s the only reason.  But it was… that was one of two or three things that happened like that.  There were others.

 

MD

Just the impression that the way they handled it…  you know, top producer, you know successful producer em… you know, somebody who has worked with all the top international artists.

 

BA

No, it was somebody that was an upstart that got too big for his boots in their eyes.  And they weren’t going to have somebody arguing with them and telling them what to do… when they were senior to them.

 

MD
It’s something the BBC has always had difficulty handling going through the years… maverick characters…

 

BA

That department… this was… in quite early days, but they never… they’d never been able to handle personnel and staff in a very… in an understanding way, and that particularly applied to Radio 1, once Radio 1 formed and split up with Radio 2.  The personnel and the management as people… as artistic, creative people was very insensitive and lacking in any understanding at all.  And they were only concerned, basically, with the… the administration of the department more than the results.  I nev… I don’t think I ever had any complaint over the quality of any programme that I’d ever done, at any time, but I was probably the most… ticked off producer… and I felt that I was picked on and bullied quite a lot actually, to be honest.

 

10:18

 

MD

At that time when you left Saturday Club… I mean the options might have been that you went into the commercial world?..  You know, working as a record producer there.  Was that an option?

 

BA

Yeah, I had op… I did have options… and I had opportunities there, but I didn’t want to go to television just to do something else which appeared to be more glamorous.  And I didn’t want to go and be a mediocre television producer, I wanted to be a good radio producer, and I felt much more confident about producing good radio programmes, I didn’t want to go on to something, to push me any further.  I wanted to stay doing what I was, and I wasn’t really interested in going into management, which went down against me.  I was unambitious… that I wanted to stay doing what I knew I could do well, and I didn’t want to go… push myself into doing things not very well.

 

MD

How did Top Gear come about?

 

11:36

 

 

BA

Well Top Gear came about in 1964… with Brian Matthew… Pop music department, when it first started… popular music department thought that they should start getting something a little bit more progressive in – just slightly more.  And they thought it was time to give me another chance to do something, and they just gave me the… an allocation of about, I think it was about £220 or something, and two hours of an evening and told me to do another programme… So, I held a competition to… to get the… the title of it, which turned out to be Top Gear… and I knew Brian Matthew would be a dead cert good compere for it, because he wanted to do something new… and I knew he would do it very professionally, and, I wanted to do something a bit more forward looking.. And I started Top Gear.  That was the original Top Gear with Brian Matthew in the mid-60s.

 

MD

Who was on the first show?

 

BA

The Beatles were on it… on the first show.  In fact they came round to my… they came round to my flat in Shepherd’s Market and did the trailer for it… in my flat.  I’ve still got the original unedited tapes.  And they kept on about launching… launching Bernie’s new ship.  I name this ship Top Gear and all that…  And I tried to get… very good top names on that every week.  And we had some…. We had quite a wide range of people on it, it was mainly fairly bluesy and motown and fairly progre… at the time fairly progressive.  But occasionally, I would have people going back to the 50s on it… like Johnnie Ray… and if I thought they were, like, good enough all round artists, I would have people like that on it, to add.. to add a bit of variety.  Johnny Ray did a very good session for me actually

 

 

MD
One person we haven’t mentioned that was also on that first show was Dusty Springfield.  What was she like to work with?

 

BA

One of the people that did the first Top Gear fairly regularly was Dusty… Dusty Springfield and it was very difficult to book her at the time, because she was such… such a perfectionist…  She had a reputation for being difficult to work with but it was only because she didn’t… she wanted things done to a high standard, and she was a perfectionist and I respected her for that, and I had no problems working with her at all.  I used to love working with Dusty.  It was quite a headache, because you knew she expected a good backing group, and she got it too, and she did some very good sessions for me.  I got on with her fine.

 

15:30

 

MD

We haven’t talked about the musicians, some of the qualities of the musicians you worked with, did you have a regular team you worked with?

 

BA

Yeah, one of the reasons that people used to… like solo artists that used to work with me like Dusty, was that I used to have a very good Musical Director, Arthur Greenslade, who I knew and trusted very well… And it was another one of those mutual respect working relationships where, anything to do with the music was him… anything to do with the production on it… the sound balance, was me… or the balance engineer.  But… he would always book the appropriate session men, and the best ones.  Normally, if it was for Dusty Springfield, he would know the people that she would particularly want on the session, and we’d book particular musicians… to suit those… those artists.  And I used to book backing singers like Madeleine Bell and Leslie Duncan… and the best backing singers.  One of the best backing singers I booked in the early stages… in the early 60s was Rod Stewart.  I used to book Rod Stewart as a backing singer… cause he had a good, gutsy, ballsy backing voice.

 

MD

He was someone who would appear on Top Gear. Who else appeared on Top Gear?

 

HIATUS

 

17:40

 

This first Carl Perkins session, by the way, that was one of my first double sessions… Carl Perkins and the Nashville Teens did… the session… one of the first sessions for Top Gear and the first one.. they did… He did, “Wrong YoYo”, “Big Bad Blues”, “San Antonio Rose”, “John Henry” “Matchbox” and “Lonely Heart”.  Now, three weeks later… that was on July 16 (1964) then on July… on August 6, what was that… three weeks later?..   Three or four weeks later was part 2 of that session, and on that, they did “Lonely Heart”, “Maggie May”, “Jambalaya”, “Blue Suede Shoes”… oh no, these were almost four different numbers.  I genuinely did record enough on that one session for two programmes.  But he would have got a double fee for it.  He would have got fifty quid instead of twenty five quid.

 

MD

So you had the Beatles, you had Dusty Springfield you had Carl Perkins and Mark Winter and several other people.  In terms of like all the programmes you’ve ever done, where the first Top Gear rate, I mean how did you rate that.

 

BA

The best programme I ever did was the fifth birthday of Saturday Club, and that was the highest figures ever for… probably for a pop music live programme.  I don’t mean Housewife’s…  I don’t mean things like Family Favourites… record programmes, but for a live programme that was probably the highest figure, it was 25.1 I think… That’s 25% of the adult population over 14.

 

20:02

 

MD

But in terms of that first Top Gear… in terms of the proudest moment, where would you rate it?

 

BA

Oh, because it was all mine…  because it was my….it wasn’t… It was all mine, yeah.

 

MD

When it was finished, and when you look back on it now, how do you feel about it?

 

BA
I wish I had copies of them all.  But I was too busy producing it to record it.

 

MD
We were talking just now, when the camera was switched of, you sort of said…

 

BA

I’ve got a copy of the first one.

 

MD

But in terms of the artists and in terms of the performances that you got out of those artists, you were saying that you felt that was one of your… the best ones.

 

BA

Yeah.  I really went all out for…

 

MD

Can you talk a little bit about that then?

 

BA

What, particularly the first one, you mean?

 

MD
Yeah.  And how you felt about it.  Professionally

 

Hiatus

 

21:45

 

BA

Well thinking back about Top Gear, that was the best programme I ever did I think.  It’s the one I’m most proud of… because I had so much support from people that were doing it, like  including The Beatles.. and… The Beatles were so pleased about it because Carl Perkins was on it. And Carl Perkins was their idol… or one of them.  And all of the people on it were great people.  And it was probably the first programme that was all my own, and I was really pleased about that.  And there was a lovely reaction from it the next day when it went out, and it all went pretty well on… and… yeah…

 

MD

What was the audience reaction to it… the listeners’ reaction to it?  Can you remember?

 

BA

Well the official audience… the listening figures we wouldn’t have known until about two weeks  to three weeks later, the way they were done then, but the reac… the reaction, from people listening … that we knew would have been listening was very good and very positive and everyone was very pleased about it.  But it… that doesn’t include the… many in the management, cause they wouldn’t have known anyway.

 

MD
But in terms of  personal satisfaction, I mean, the fact that you’d gone into that trough after the circumstances of leaving Saturday Club… I mean, you know… the fact that Top Gear…  became a hit?..

 

BA
And the fact that I was doing my own things again… doing my  own bookings and doing my own programme, that was like a recovery for me.  It did me the world of good.  Wasn’t so good the following year when the BBC tried… decided to take it off though.

 

MD

Following it up, because you followed that programme up with several ones after of an equal standing… I mean the Stones did one a couple of weeks after that, which had The Last Time and major, major records… they had as well.

 

BA
Yeah.  I kept up… I did keep up that billing… of star billing all the way through on that programme.  And… we followed it up with people like… oh what was it… no it was The Beatles on the first one, the second one was Rolling Stones, PJ Proby, Elkie Brookes and Joe Brown and the Bruvvers.  The third one, Billy J Kramer, The Animals, Elaine Delmar and Adamo.  Next one, Merseybeats, Carl Perkins, Cilla Black, Sounds Incorporated and Fourmost.  Mark Winter, Lulu, Searchers, Barron Knights, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames and Brenda Lee.  Gerry and the Pacemakers, Dave Berry, Elkie Brookes, Billy Fury, Johnny Ray, The Viscounts, Cilla Black.  Kenny Lynch, Susan Maughan and the Rustics… oh, don’t know what happened that week…  I think somebody must have dropped out… eh, Brenda Lee, Cliff Bennett and The Searchers.

 

 

 

25:20

 

MD
That was again… that was the Who’s Who, that were in the top ten, you know, in a big kind of way.

 

BA

Yeah.  Matt Monroe, Supremes, were on it.  But yeah, we used to try and keep up that standard of billing every week.

 

MD

So… but also the… at that point, the… I mean the pirate radio ships were coming… coming in to… into view…

 

BA
Yeah.  We had stiff competition.

 

Hiatus

 

Yeah, we tried to keep up that standard of billing and get really top names on it because we were just starting to get competition, not from within the BBC, but from the pirates, and they were pulling in a lot of listeners… a lot more than we were, I think… and that was the main opposition we had… or competition.  Which actually did the BBC a lot of good… because it… it made them … give the people more of what they wanted.

 

MD

What happened to Top Gear during this period then?

 

BA

It got taken off.

 

MD

Why was that?

 

BA

Because…  I don’t know.   It was just pulled.  There was no personal reasons for it I don’t think… It just seemed pulled.  But… when it was in the… It all got in the newspapers that it… that we were being taken off, and there was a demonstration organised outside Broadcasting House.  A reasonable sized demo out saying, “Bring Back Top Gear!”  Which was rather nice.

 

MD

So that… I suppose we are just at the point of Radio 1 and Radio 2, I mean… and the BBC re-inventing itself… you know… can you talk about that period?  What were you doing at that point?

 

BA

No rea… no… no…  It took me a while to recover from the shock of it.  All of us.  We were all very disappointed… Brian Matthew, all the people taking part in it regularly.  It was like… It was like a family bereavement almost, when that was taken off.  Nobody could work out why… why it was.  I don’t think we, we ev… We never really found out why it was taken off. 

 

MD

You’d have thought, for example, you know, when Radio 1, Radio 2 was being set up that somebody, you know, with your knowledge, experience you wouldn’t… you wouldn’t have been consulted in terms of the… you know, the new way of working… the new, new regime… the new… you know… the new station… radio stations.

 

BA
No, at that point… at that time the… at the time of about 1965 and 66, there was a lot of talk about Radio 1 and 2 starting, and all the networks splitting up to 1, 2, 3 and 4…  But the main thing within the BBC was the interdepartmental bickering over what used to be called gramophone department, that used to… that was up at Egton House where Radio 1 eventually ended up, before they pulled it down… And whether people went to gramophone department to produce record programmes, because they had all the needletime, or most of it, 90% of it, or whether they were going to stay and produce live pop music programmes, which were originally based at Aeolian Hall on… Light Entertainment Department that became Popular Music Department.

 

30:08

 

So there was the combining of pop music department, that I was in, and gramophone department, just doing record programmes.  And that was sort of a more important… that was more important… the admin side of it… than the music side of it.  And they were more concerned over what department they were going to… and there was obviously a certain amount of resentment from people from Aeolian Hall in Popular Music Department because the people that got most of the plum jobs, although they had higher listening figures, because the were radio programmes….because they were record programmes… and more popular, because they were playing the original things, they had hardly ever been into a studio to produce session musicians or artists in their lives.  So the people that had actually been doing most of the hard work, and working with live artists, they got the rough end of the stick.  And they didn’t get recog… recognised that the people that were already in… gramophone department at Egton House.  There was quite a lot of bad feeling over that, about… which department you were in or… started… and it was a very ‘them and us’ situation where… we thought… that… the people in… gramophone department got treated a lot better than we did.  And they were… they were given more management jobs in gramophone department… than in our department.  It all.. it all got a bit… sort of… there was a lot of un... unhappiness about it.

 

MD

And then Top Gear came back into action again.

 

BA

When they decided to… start… split up all the four networks in 1967 – Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4 – Radio 1

 

Hiatus

 

BA

When they knew that Radio 1 was starting in 1967, they thought it’d be a good idea to bring Top Gear back… and it took quite a long time… to… decide who was going to present it.  I was definitely given the job of producing it, and I knew who I wanted to produc… present it in the first place, and that was John Peel… but I had a heck of a job to get agreement on that from controller of the dep… controller of the network, or any of my management… they weren’t in favour of him… of him at all.  In fact they were dead against him.  And after I’d booked him, for the first time, I was told never to book him again, and, I said, “I’m sorry, you’re too late, I’ve already booked him.  I hadn’t, but I pulled a fast one on the management that told me, because I... I said that I’d already been on to Clive Selwood, his manager and agent and booked him for the next eight weeks, and a verbal booking from a BBC producer is a legal contract.  So, as far as they were concerned, I’d been very , very naughty, and booked him without their permission, and they didn’t want him booked.  But they couldn’t get out of it, and I had hell to pay for that.  John Peel did fairly well out of it…

 

MD

Tell me about, presumably you heard John Peel on Radio London… Tell me about that.  What was it that attracted you to him?  As a DJ?

 

34:47

 

BA

I was impressed by the fact that he was very different.  The reason I wanted John Peel from the very beginning was the fact that I’d been listening to him for quite a while on Radio London on Perfumed Garden… and all of that… And it wasn’t just me… a lot of people I knew and respected had told me about him as well and thought, yeah… it’s not just me… he’s got quite a following…  and these… were from people whose opinion I respected… and he’d also been up to my office, he’d come to my office… room 421 in Aeolian Hall and he was… he came in… he was very shy and very nervous… and eh… more or less asking… to do Top Gear…  And I made up my mind then.  However, weird he was… that he was the one I wanted.  But I had a heck of a job convincing eh… controllers and my management in Radio 1 – which was Radio 1&2 then.  And there were people there, like Douglas Muggeridge… and… people in control there that had absolutely no sympathy or knowledge at all about pop music.  They were completely misplaced… and these were the people that were making quite important decisions and you had to work with people like this.

 

DM

Still echoes from the 50s… from 57, you know, you still had these same people who allegedly should have the pulse… should have their fingers on the pulse of,,, you know, the music… and yet they don’t

 

BA

Yeah, the management of the networks and the departments involving pop music were completely out of touch.  Their background was…. A lot of their background was still a military background from WWII.  And they had that approach in dealing with personnel as well… or not dealing with them… and it was a very unsympathetic type of management… then.  They’d be booted out… these days, they’d just be booted out on their neck.  People wouldn’t have put up with it.

 

It was quite… if you got pulled up on the coals for doing something… which was apparently unacceptable like… eh… John Peel referring to VD or something like that… there’d be questions raised in the house over it, you know… The slightest thing was a heck of a… there’d be a heck of a performance.  And the memos you’d have to write explaining yourself and how these terrible things happened… and the standards we had to… stick to now… Mind you, some of the standards… might be better… we might be better off sticking to some of them now, actually…

 

MD

What was John like to work with then?

 

I had a tremendous amount of respect for John… but… and I liked his new approach… of the sort of non-personality, non-celebrity type presenter… but … he wasn’t always a bundle of fun to work with… and he would say the same thing about me as well… because both of us had things … that… we felt quite strongly about… and how things should be done.  Fortunately, most of the time we met each other halfway… but… he wasn’t always that easy to work with.  I only… I only did his programme in the fairly ear… in the relatively early days… before I was taken off it.

 

MD

The impression I also get… in a funny sort of way… that you were sort of kindred spirits.. you know that you had a lot of… you might say… that element of stubbornness.

 

BA

Yeah… John and I were… were kindred spirits in a way… because both of us were perfectionists in our own way, and he was very good about some of the things.  He’d come out of music and get the news on time, and things like that.  I wish they still bothered to do things like that now, but they don’t.  Couldn’t care less now.  But he… he was… he was very professional in his… in his way.  And he was very careful about factual things… in getting things right.  And he researched his programmes a lot.  And… in a way I… we were very compatible as far as that went.

 

40:33

 

MD

How did you put that show together?

End of Roll 3 Interview 2

 

 

 

TRANSCRIPTION OF INTERVIEW OF BERNIE ANDREWS

 

Interview #2 – 6 Feb 2008

Roll 4

 

Interview – Mike Dick (MD)

Interviewee – Bernie Andrews (BA)

 

 

 

Timings about every 5:00 minutes or so

 

00:29

 

MD

OK Bernie… talking about the kind of… the period… it was almost like limbo…  a state of limbo… between the end of Top Gear and its first incarnation with Brian Matthew and the BBC taking it off the air and no real reason given, and the beginning of… Radio 1.  Could you talk about that sort of period… in.. you know… what was going on in your life at that time?

 

Yeah there was a period after the Top… the first Top Gear was taken off, in 1965… until Radio 1 & 2 started in 1967, which is a sort of limbo, and, when they were deciding in 1967, what to… to start off with in Radio 1… one of the things they wanted to do was to bring back Top Gear.  And you’d think, why do they want to bring it back when they took it off quite unreasonably two years before that.  Why did they take it off , and why do they, why do they want to bring it back?

 

One of the things… I think was very influential.. on that.  I had a secretary called Shirley Jones , who left to go and work in America in the mid 60s, but she came back to London to work for a while, in about 1967, and the person she worked for … was Robin Scott.  Robin Scott was to be the controller of Radio 1 and 2, and Shirley was very much an old friend of mine and she worked with me quite a lot in my early days, and she remembered… very much remembered the first Top Gear, and it was her that bent the ear of Robin Scott into saying, “Bring back Bernie’s old Top Gear.”  And that is why I was given it.  But people like Donald Maclean and Jimmy Grant who were my immediate bosses down at Aeolian Hall didn’t know about this, and they didn’t know about the connection between me and Robin Scott.

 

Robin Scott was very unpopular with the management at Aeolian Hall in pop music department because they re… they regarded him as coming in from like show business as distinct from eh… popular music department, and he was more show-bizzy generally, but was more open minded, and they did not like Robin Scott.  And the main reason was that Robin Scott wanted to have the culture of personality presenters in Radio 1.  He wanted er… the so-and-so so-and-so show.  Not… he didn’t want Twelve O’Clock Spin, he wanted the Kenny Everett Show, or the Noel Edmonds Show.  And management of popular music department didn’t like this at all, and there was a lot of aggro between Robin Scott and popular music management.  But, I had… quite a good… a really good contact with Robin Scott.  But they had no idea about this, and that’s where Top Gear came back again.  With, hopefully… with my choice of presenter.  And it was Shirley, Shirley Jones that really pushed it with Robin Scott to override the fact that my management had told me not to use John Peel.

 

MD

We’ll pick up the bit about John Peel…

 

BA

I don’t think.  I don’t think that’s ever been told before.  Anywhere.

 

MD

You were talking about working with John… and… two quite strong characters working together.  How did you put the show together?  How did you decide on the format for the… er… the kind of content and the.. and the style of it?

 

Hiatus

 

05:47

 

MD

How did you put the show together?

 

BA

In putting the shows together with John Peel.  We… we used to meet every week… em… at a pre-decided time er… and go through… I used to… tell him the stuff that I’d pre-recorded em… which was mainly up to myself and the artists / groups concerned, and then we used to meet once a week, usually in my office, or sometimes in my home er… at Muswell Hill…  And we used to go through the records.  He’d have a pile of records he’d want in, and I’d have a pile of records that I wanted in.  And we used to go out… and we used to go through them and say, all right, your turn, you put one in, your choice now or then we used to have too many, so then we used to go through… and take it in turns to take one out and say, all right, I’ll go without.  But, we didn’t often used to fight much.  We used to argue quite a bit… in a… quite agreeable way.  Em... but we used to barter with each other which ones we had in.  Both of us I would say had equal choice over the selection of records, because I had to be fairly… careful with him otherwise he would have made a whole programme of two hours of Ultimate Spinach or… you know… Quicksilver Messenger… or… you know… Beefheart…(laughs)

 

And there were things that he did that used to like that I couldn’t stand.  Likewise with him, when I first booked… when I first booked, David er… when I first booked em David Bowie, he hated it.  He couldn't stand David Bowie at first… he just thought he was a… a cheap imitation of Anthony Newley… you know… and he was too poppy for him… and we argued like mad over er… David Bowie, despite what Bowie said in This Is Your Life… to John Peel.  But em… Peel didn’t want Bowie in the programme at all.  It was me.  And I… and a lot of stuff that he wanted in, I didn’t want in, but we used to to agree…  we used to agree to differ over it.  And by that, I think we had a fairly reasonably balanced programme, really.

 

MD
67-68, I mean that was musically again… a very creative sort of period and it… you had Hendrix on and people like that.  Can you talk about it… you know, the kind of musicians and bands you had on during that period?

 

BA

Yeah, well, with some of them there wasn’t much…  we.. we agreed obviously… there wasn’t much disagreement over people like Hendrix and the obvious people and Cream and Pink Floyd and bands like that.  It was the more extreme bands that… I tried to get balanced… and not let… let them take over too much because… my argument for that was… with some things… whatever merit they had musically and as a record or as a piece of music… you have to ask… as the producer, you have to ask yourself, is it right for radio… it might… you know… you get an eight minute piece of brilliantly played guitar… but… to a lot of people it would be switch off music… they couldn’t stand it… it was too much to take for eight or ten minutes on radio.  And the medium for those sort of things I used to say was… if you want to hear that… they might be very good, but the medium for that is LPs… or records of some sort.  Radi… I think you have to moderate… things… a little bit… in programmes like that for Radio.  And not… I used to be very aware of not making people switch off, because it was driving them up the wall.  It wasn’t because I necessarily didn’t like it, but was it the right medium for doing it?

 

10:13

 

MD

What’s coming through is the role of the producer changing… you know… from what it was like at the beginning of the 60s.  Can you describe the…  the different… difference between… the early 60s… to the latter stages of the 60s… and how the producer’s role was changing?

 

BA

In the early 60s… nearly all music programmes… both record programmes and live programmes, and mixed programmes were decided on and programmed by the producer only.  The DJ had to write the script for it… normally write the script…  more so in gramophone department than in pop music… but scripts, in the very early, late 50s and early 60s  were nearly always scripted…  And the producer… actually… decided on the items in the programme… not the DJ.

 

The first time… probably… that the produc… that the presenter had any say in the choice of the records was when I started doing the first Top Gear in 1964 with Brian Matthew, and I used to let him choose about a quarter of the records.  Round about 25-30% were his choice … and the rest was mine.  And he was very… you know… he quite liked doing that.  But then that gradually got more and more… with some programmes… with some producers… that gradually got more and more towards the presenter choosing them… and then it got combined with the network playlist… and sometimes… they were mainly decided on… whatever  playlist the network was doing at the time

.

 

MD

Can you talk about playlists?

 

BA

And apart from knowing that these playlists exist… existed… I can never remember having worked on a programme with a playlist, because, I thought if I couldn’t… produce… my own programme and choose the material for it… I shouldn’t be doing it.  And I had gen… in general very little respect for playlists because I thought my own judgement – rightly or wrongly – was right for that programme, and I didn’t… I never worked on programmes with playlists.  Although sometimes, they were necessary… to stop unsuitable records being played at wrong times, I think.

 

MD

Can you talk about the circumstances behind you leaving Top Gear then?

 

BA

The biggest blow I ever had, which was even bigger than being taken of Saturday… Saturday Club was in 1969… and one of my worst years ever that was.  And… with everybody moaning about… other producers and various people moaning about how long I was spending on doing sessions, and why am I allowed to do this, and why am I allowed to do that, there was all this bad feeling… welling up… against the time that I was spending on that programme… but… nearly 50% of it was my own time, I wasn’t getting paid any more for it.  So… Donald Maclean, who was the Music Organiser Light Entertainment then, the MOLE, him, and others… I’m not quite sure were involved… decided to give me another programme… just being bloody minded quite frankly… and that was a Music While You Work. 

 

15:00

 

And it was starting… this Music While You Work rehearsal was a live… it was a live programme with a rehearsal starting at seven o’clock on a Wednesday after I’d been doing a session until midnight the night before on a Tuesday.  And when I got that I said I would have to… to do that Music While You Work, I wouldn’t be able to get home and then back again, and it would be a completely impractical thing to do, could it be reconsidered?  And just out of bloody mindedness, they said “No!  You’ll do as you’re told.  You’ll have to arrange your own hours and fit it in yourself.”  So, I said, “I’m already working over seventy hours a week on Top Gear, and if I do… if I have to cut my hours down, if I have to do that programme, I’ll have to cut my hours down, and if I do, I won’t cut them down to… just to accommodate that programme, I will take them down to 48 hours a week, which I should be doing, and then start from there, and that would halve the time that I would spend on Top Gear, and that, to me, is unacceptable, to work in that way, to halve the time that I’m spending on Top Gear, and they said, “They didn’t care about that.  Do as I’m told, and do the Music While You Work, and they insisted I do this extra Music While You Work.”  They were doing it lit… really to humiliate me more than anything… and to… to bring me down as they thought.. you know… to… to size.

 

Eh, so, I refused to do the Top… the Music While You Work in the end, and they took me off it… literally like that… I was off it the following week… and again, I was absolutely devastated by it.  And, just to rob salt in the wound, the guy that they’d put me… put with me to trail… to do sessions and to do bookings in my office.. and they put him with me in my office to trail me on doing bookings and… recording sessions and doing programmes generally, to train him… they put him on producing John Peel’s Top Gear, and that was John Walters… who was a good friend, but they knew how to rub salt in the wound.  Cause he was the only one that had any idea about working with John Peel.  He was the only one that knew John Peel… and he was the one that had been trailing me, and he’d just taken me out to lunch a couple of days before to thank him… to thank me for… what I’d shown him about producing sessions and… working in the office with me.

 

MD

What was John Peel’s reaction?

 

BA

He was pretty horrified at first… because he knew it would be a very big change in attitude… John Walters had al… always sent up John Peel.  Before he was actually put on working with him. John Walters had always sent up John Peel, and he thought he was a bit of a joke, and he… he just used to take the piss out of him the whole time, because in his… in Peel’s early days… he’d sort of… he’d go on about… sort of… talking to mice… listening to the grass grow and all that bit.. Which was not drug induced, strangely enough.  A lot of people used to think that Peel was stoned all the time.  He wasn’t.  Peel never used to… Peel wasn’t into drugs at all… whatever people thought and he got that reputation… entirely undeserved.

 

MD

So you’d been taken off Top Gear… what happened next?

 

BA

I was absolutely devastated in being taken off it… and I was given a whole batch of programmes humiliating me even more, where I was covering for producers that I’d been training years before as studio managers, that were given jobs as producers, but they were doing their own bookings of artists for daytime strip programmes in a grade above me, and I was put working for them, doing… recording sessions for them.

 

20:12

 

And the… and the studio managers and balance engineers that were doing those programmes used to wonder why I didn’t take a very strong interest in doing their other bloody sessions… and why I took the attitude I did… I did virtually what I had to do and no more, because I’d had enough of… working like mad, and I  used to just go in to do what I had to do… I what I was down on the… down on the sheet to cover.  But it was very… very menial tasks, to deliberately humiliate me.

 

MD

The picture you’re painting is… of the BBC… it’s going back to the idea that it doesn’t cope with people like you… at all… at all well?

 

BA

If I … if I had differences over working hours or something like that… I used to work late at night… I didn’t used to get in early in the morning, because the mornings… if you got in early in the mornings… most of the time was taken up by dealing with record pluggers… and socialising.  And it was very difficult to actually work there in the mornings so the average time that I used to go in was lunchtime until about eleven or midnight, and I used to work… instead of working in the mornings, I found I was able to concentrate on listening to records and doing work… either doing sessions or working in my office of an evening.  And that was frowned upon… quite a lot… by management, because I wasn’t there at nine o’clock in the morning.  But they seemed to completely… oblivious to the fact that I was there eleven or twelve o’clock the night before working.  And they used to say things like, “Well… the trouble is, with your way of life… you don’t work like… anyone else… you know… you don’t expect to do this and you don’t come to meetings and you don’t do this and you don’t do that.  But, I was wo…. I was working on programmes all the time.  And anybody… unless they fitted into that nine to five slot… didn’t fit in and… I got fed up with these continual references about, “With your way of life…” and all that bit.  I knew what they were getting at…  it was… a lot of it was nothing less than homophobic bullying, and I got fed up with it after a while.

 

MD

But why?..  I mean you’ve got a creative medium… you’ve got a creative organisation, and what I don’t quite understand is… you know, you are a creative person… that they can’t accommodate that, that they can’t sort of say that this really should be the kind of people we give support to… you know that we should be aiding  and helping to be as creative as they possibly can, but it seems to be that the reverse… the opposite was the case.  I mean why do you think that was?

 

BA

It was like tolerating black people.  They would be very patronising to you and tolerant to you all the time you didn’t confront them on anything… or you didn’t argue, or you didn’t raise any… differences of opinion… but… pushy poofs were not tolerated any more than pushy niggers.  I’ll put that in a more gentle way.  But anybody… anybody with unconventional ways at all… they were tolerated all the time they kept their head down… but it’s like being black… if you’re black, don’t put your head above the parapet, and don’t try and do anything out of the ordinary, otherwise you’ll be brought down.

 

MD

It’s a question of knowing your place. 

 

25:18

 

BA

Yeah, just keep your place… don’t … don’t stick your head above the parapet.

 

MD

And yet… again ,  it is a creative environment it’s the people who push the limits , who try to do innovative and interesting work seem to get squashed down…  by the people who aren’t prepared to take the risks who are cherished in that sort of environment. That seems to be completely wrong.

BA

There was a lot of bad feeling caused… there was a lot of bad feeling… brought about the people that I was friendly with.  They knew I was friendly with Elton John… That was one of the things that went against me quite a lot… the friendship with the Beatles caused quite a bit of bad feeling… and it happened quite a lot… and that’s not paranoia or just imagination.  It was a fact… I’m quite sure it was.  In some situations you’d actually… hear about that through various ways, usually when people are drunk… say things they wouldn’t normally say.

 

MD

How did you?  How did you overcome that?

 

BA

I didn’t.  Because I was always… I never actually came… I never really came out… and still haven’t.  So… that made it even more difficult because… it was difficult to argue back with them all you could do was just be aware of what they were thinking and… I fe… I just felt that I was being abused in that way… but… very difficult to say anything about it at the time… it’s different now. Much different.  Very much different now.  Almost the reverse to… almost to a fault, actually.

 

MD

Were there other sympathetic people you could go to or talk to at that time?

 

BA
Oh no!..  The o.. the only one was at all… that you… that you could talk to was one of the executive producers called Teddy Warrick.  But… the problem was if anybody appeared… for that time… to be at all empathetic… to people… they would be… too cautious about being open to suspicion themselves.  So, it was all a big… sort of …  It was all a big act, really.  And although, there were quite… I had a lot of very good friends there… very trustworthy… they had themselves to look after.  So, it was still very… very difficult to handle it actually.  I would love to have been… I would love to have really be… said what I thought… in the 60s and 70s.  But I couldn’t then, and you just had to bite your tongue, and take it.

 

MD

Just trying to think where we go from here… 

 

29:42

 

BA

One of the things that started off… the… all this continual acrimony between myself and my personnel officer was… when I was first made a producer…  my first secretary, who I needed to help me, being a new producer, but she was new herself, and she was absolutely useless and I thought, it’s no good… I’m going to have to get another secretary… and after about six months, I had to do her annual report… and being so… as useless as she was, she ended up with me giving her quite a bad report… enough to get rid of her anyway… and about a few weeks after this report went in… she got put working with someone else and then she was changed again, and then eventually left the BBC.  And then about a year later, she married my personnel officer… (laughs)…  So, it wasn’t a very good career move.

 

The thing that started this off… all this acrimony between myself and BBC management, particularly with my personnel officer was that when I was first made a producer, I was given a secretary that wasn’t particularly helpful, in fact she was… wasn’t really up to scratch, so to do something about it, because I needed that help myself, being a new producer, I didn’t give her a particularly good report that… that year… and as a result of that she got taken away from me and put with someone else, and then someone else, and then eventually she left the BBC, but what made it into a particularly career move for me was that about a year later, she… she got married, and the person she married was my personnel officer, so that didn’t do me a lot of good.

 

MD
Yeah… you came to the point of… when did it all come to an end at the BBC?

 

In the early 80s… things were getting really bad… the relationship between… the head of Radio 1… or Controller of Radio 1, and particularly my personnel officer… I was very unhappy working there and the things I was doing… things I was given to do and all I was doing was covering for se… for sessions for other people, and doing things that I hated doing… in very, very loud recording sessions … which, after a while I got… I found it quite difficult to cope with the level of… sound from heavy groups, and I used to complain quite bitterly about… the difficulty I had with sitting in with sound levels that I thought were quite intolerable… and they were doing my hearing quite a lot of bad… quite a lot of harm, and there were other things that, you know, I was very unhappy about any… all I was looking forward to was getting out and retiring.

 

So, I had a… a deal with my controller of Radio 1… was that… if I stuck it until I was 50, and that was in 1983, he would arrange for an amicable retirement deal, and that I would retire on a reasonable… deal… and that would be it.  But in the meantime, between the time he arranged that… and promised me that… there was a new head of personnel came in to the BBC, who was at television centre, and when the time came for me to retire, that new head of personnel said, “If he wants to retire, let him resign,” and I would have lost my pension.  And the only way I would have got out was to have been to resign.  And I wouldn’t do that.

 

35:25

 

And at that time… the whole stress of it was really getting me down.  And I went sick for a while… and there were all sorts of various problems… and things were getting quite nasty… and then I thought, if I don’t go back after three months, I would give them grounds for firing me, if I’m not careful.  So I went back, and I said, “I’m back from being sick and I’m here to work again.”  And the controller, Derek Chinnery, said, “No, it’s alright, go home again, we’ll let you know,” and I said, “No!  Not unless you give it to me in writing.”  So, to cut a long story short, this went on for about another three months… and I was virtually off sick for about six months, and then after that time they sent me a letter terminating my contract, and I appealed against it.

 

The reason they gave me for terminating the contract after all that time was nothing to do with programmes at all, or my work.  They said it was due… I’ve forgotten the word… due to this…  why, I can never think of this word…

 

Relocation was it?

 

No… disaffection…  can you edit it? 

 

And the reason they gave me for terminating my contract was due to my admitted disaffection with Radio 1 output.  I thought well that… that says everything now.  And I appealed against it to the Director General… and won!  And I won the appeal… but the whole event went on for about two and a half years and… it was very stressful… and it quite badly damaged my health… the… the stress of it.  And I’ve ended up in a… you know… fairly bad neurological condition.  It’s mainly chronic fatigue syndrome… that’s messed me up.  But it was mainly brought on as… from the stress of all that… in going up to London for meetings … the union and… so being a… in some ways being a member of the ABS and BETA they didn’t like that very much.  It’s a fact that I had the union behind me.  But… I was very glad I was a member of the union.  Because I… I needed them then.. and they were… they did a lot of good.

 

MD

What kind of support did you get then?

 

BA

They represented me at the appeal… with the DG.  And they supported me… I … By then, Tony Banks, that had been dealing with it from the ABS before then, Tony Banks had left and… it was being dealt with by other people, but originally it was being dealt with by Tony Banks… from the ABS.  And he gave me a load of support… on it.

 

MD
Did you feel vindicated in the end?

 

 

BA

I’m gradually feeling more and more vindicated, 25 years later.  It’s gradually coming out… but I will ad…. I still admit to being fairly bitter about it.  I know bitterness is a very negative thing and.. it can be very harmful… and it’s thought you shouldn’t feel bitter about things but… yes… it…  I do feel bitter about it – however grateful I am to them giving me a job in the first place.  Cause they gave me a job, but they didn’t give me a career, as my personnel officer would have said once.

 

40:29 End of Roll 4

 

TRANSCRIPTION OF INTERVIEW OF BERNIE ANDREWS

 

Interview #2 – 6 Feb 2008

Roll 5

 

Interview – Mike Dick (MD)

Interviewee – Bernie Andrews (BA)

 

 

 

Timings in red – about every 5:00 minutes or so

 

00:30

 

MD

The Beatles Live at the BBC came out in 1994… how did you feel when your work was committed to CD and to posterity?  What were your feelings at that point?

 

BA
When the Beatles sessions came out as CDs in the 90s… I was really pleased about that… to think that all the work done in the 60s is coming out all that time later and is receiving so much recognition and I was … I felt quite proud of… of what I’d done on that.  But… and there was a certain amount of recognition on there.  But, there was still this attitude of the BBC that the producers had very little to do with it, and it was BBC PROPERTY.  And the fact that the BBC as such at that time had never even heard of the Beatles really… as a body… or cared about this… or cared about them… that they’re using the Beatles… the Beatles to their own financial advantage all that time… and the BBC must have made millions out of the Beatles… and, as producers… and having produced it, have we made millions?.. we haven’t even made a penny.  We have not had one penny in any production rights or anything about the fact that we produced those sessions – not as CDs or commercial records – we produced those as radio programmes and we were paid as radio producers, not record producers, and we have never been paid a penny for any record that has ever been redu… ever been… released from the BBC.  And that, to the people involved, not just myself, the other producers as well, is still a very sore point.  And we spent about ten years and a lot of money in the nin… mainly in the 90s, to try and get some legal redress about that, but in the end we had to give up because we cou… we couldn’t carry on paying solicitors that money.  It was a David and Goliath thing where, however much we in the right morally and legally, we just couldn’t win and we just got… we got fed up trying to…

 

MD

Cause the ironic thing is, if you and other producers like you hadn’t kept… kept… made those tapes in the first place… kept those tapes, cause you realised the importance of them then none of these releases would have happened in the first place.

 

BA

No, they wouldn’t… most of them wouldn’t.  Some of them would that were kept for transcription and other things, but… a lot of them were… recor… recordings that we’d made because we cared about the music at the time, and we thought it should have been kept, whatever the BBC thought… I’ve got a memo telling… ticking me off in the 60s asking if some of my… the tapes of some of my recordings for Top Gear could be retained, and there was a thing called a retention slip.  And if we… if there was some particular merit to a recording, to stop it being automatically wiped within a few weeks we had to make out a retention slip.  And I made out retention slips for some of my Beatles recordings and some of the others like Pink Floyd, then some of the Top Gear things, and I got a hell… a hell of a ticking off for it saying, who the hell do I think I am expecting my recordings to be kept when others are wiped, who do I think I am, and why do I think my recordings should be kept… really putting me down… you know…

 

05:07

 

MD

Around this room here, we’ve got gold discs in appreciation for the work you actually did.

 

BA

Yeah…  Yeah, it was appreciated… it was appreciated more in America than it was here… but… I… I felt… all the time… in the BBC from about… well the early 60s… the main thing that lacked anywhere in management of the BBC was any form of respect at all.  I feel it entirely lacked any form of respect, so much that, it was very difficult to do anything about it… You know…  However, in the last ten years of my employment by the BBC… it certainly was very… it wasn’t at all happy.  It was very stressful actually…but… I still retained quite a lot of sense of pride in myself… that I wasn’t going to go begging to them to be nicer to me… you know… I still felt quite confrontational.  And they don’t like people that stand up to them.  It’s a bit regimented in that way… where you have to give way to… people of rank and service.

 

MD
Just to sum things up… The job you did at the BBC was a very, very important one… and I think a lot of the musicians… the majority of musicians you worked with and certainly the listenerse owe you a great, great debt of gratitude to be perfectly honest.  When I was a kid, growing up in Scotland I used to listen to Saturday Club… I used to listen to all the sessions.  And they brought… yeah… quite a lot into my life.  And I think that there will be millions of people in this country feel exactly the same way… genuinely… So, I think on that level… you should feel very proud of your achievements.

 

Any sort of final, sort of reflections… from your side?

 

BA

It … brings a great deal of satisfaction,actually, when I hear that… people that I meet say they remembered things from the 60s… like… like the first version of Top Gear, particularly, which, I must admit, I’m rather proud of… When we listen to Brian Matthew on a Saturday Morning on Radio 2, a lot of the records chosen for inclusion into that programme… they hadn’t…Brian would’ve… would’ve forgotten them.  So, the suggestion isn’t coming from Brian… I think the choice of those records, and it seems that about 80 to 90% of those come from that period of the 60s, and they nearly all seem to be records that I played… sometimes, the only time those records were played was in Top Gear… In the Brian Matthew Top Gear.  And because of a… an illness that Brian had, Brian is unlikely to have remembered those records himself.  So I know it’s not Brian, and Brian doesn’t really have any say in the compilation of that programme.  It’s done by the producer, who used to listen every week… to the… 1964-5 version of Top Gear.  And it’s nice when you hear that.

 

The same happened… I once said to Terry Wogan’s producer, about ten years ago when I met him… Paul Walters… the late Paul Walters… I said I’m ever so pleased to meet you Paul because… I always listen to your programme, and I must congratulate you on your choice of records.  I think you put a marvellous choice of records in that programme.  And he said, “Do you know why?”  I said, “No!”  He said, “I used listen to Ann Nightingale request programme.  And I used to like the records you put in on Sunday afternoon.”  That was great, actually, when people say that, and it’s nice to know that people do remember those things. It… it… makes allowances for the way that the BBC treats you.

 

10:09 End of Roll 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Biographical

Saturday Club producer.

Bernie Andrews (17 August 1933 – 11 June 2010) was a BBC radio producer and the man behind the early BBC radio appearances of many of the leading pop artists of the 1960s, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix.

He grew up at Eltham, southeast London. After doing his national service in the RAF, he worked as a Post Office telephone engineer. He joined the BBC in 1957 as a technical operator. He would often sit in on live studio recording sessions for such music programmes as Saturday Skiffle Club, but his official duties as a tape operator and editor confined him to programmes like Sports Report.

His big breakthrough came when he was appointed a producer in the Popular Music division and joined Saturday Skiffle Club’s successor, Saturday Club presented by Brian Matthews on the BBC Light Programme. From 10.00am to noon every Saturday morning the programme was one of the few shows to feature pop music – a mix of discs and tapes of specially recorded BBC sessions. As a result it reached an enormous audience of ten to twelve million listeners.

The Beatles made their debut on the show on 26th January 1963 – the producer of the session was Bernie Andrews. He went on to produce all the Beatles sessions on Saturday Club. Bernie became a personal friend of the group, regularly inviting them to his flat in Shepherd Street in Mayfair which he shared with Terry Doran – a close friend of George Harrison and a business associate of Brian Epstein. On tour in the early 1960s, they sent him regular letters and postcards from all over Britain and beyond. In 1967 Andrews helped to launch the BBC career of the presenter John Peel, becoming his first producer on his nightly Top Gear programme on Radio 1.

In 1980 John Lennon spoke affectionately of Andrews in his last radio interview, recorded the night before he was murdered. Brian Epstein described Bernie as "someone who I and the boys have a great deal of affection for, because he is probably one of the best producers in the Corporation".