Chris Lycett

Interview Number: 
723
Interview Date(s): 
15 Feb 2018
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 
116

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Interview
Transcript

Speechmatics Version

 Chris Lycett 

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SPEAKER: M2
Hello Chris. Just to start off routine things like your name Chris face it and your date of birth.
SPEAKER: M1
30 December 1946 where in Sutton nursing home. Nationality British. I've got an award for life. Well fly aid.
SPEAKER: M8
Yeah. These are in reverse order. I've got an award for Walter's weekly that was an arts program we started with John Walters with producer broadcaster back in the 80s and the 90s.
SPEAKER: M1
I think that's what I want. Well one of the Tony Awards and then the award for lie. That was an overall award. And that was a go to the BAFTA. I was a BAFTA. Yes any owners.
SPEAKER: M9
No no no. Your career in the BBC started in 1966. You retired at the end of the year 2000 and your final positions. First of all your head of music production Radio One and then you spend your final period as executive producer of live events Radio 1 and 2.
SPEAKER: M2
So I think it's fair to say that was a fairly fundamental era in the time of the development of particularly rock music and youth culture and social change of which music was a big part. So you right at the epicenter of all of that so going back I'd like to ask first of all when did radio become an important part of your life.
SPEAKER: M12
Well I had a fairly chequered family childhood because we alternated between s Surrey and the Isle of Man and my and my father was in the BBC. He'd been in the RAAF but found his way into the BBC before the beginning of World War 2 and he was always in outside broadcasts. So there was always that element of BBC awareness although he was seldom there because he was on outside broadcasts.
SPEAKER: M1
And so I was aware of that. I have a older brother who's 7 years older than I.
SPEAKER: M8
And so being seven years old when we got to the age when we might be press by radio or pop music or whatever. Tony was the one that I remember sitting on it an old vinyl album of Tommy steel and breaking it and I was very unhappy about that. This was in the Isle of Man. So Tony would have been about 17 and I would have been about 12 months early mid late fifties Yeah.
SPEAKER: M1
So you know. So I was always aware of music but really when it really engaged with me we were aware of Radio Caroline which of course if you pardon the pun rocked the radio boat in terms of pop music. Well I used to listen to Radio Luxembourg My brother used to listen to Radio Luxembourg in the evenings because radio reception was better. And I was aware of that but really when I began to feel we were getting somewhere close to getting our hands on this wonderful creature was.
SPEAKER: M2
I was with Radio Caroline in those days the Light Programme was the daytime radio. That's right. Get locks in the evening but the regular daytime fare was flight programme. And then suddenly the car the pilots exploded. Yes. Explain the cultural difference between the Light Programme and the commercial station the pilot station.
SPEAKER: M12
Oh it was just unbelievable because you know the light program was very staid it was very BBC. I would like to say that the presentation team always wore dinner jackets. I think that might be a bit of an exaggeration but it certainly wasn't for young people.
SPEAKER: M8
There was nothing for young people what kind of musical content would you have gone light orchestras possibly a bit of folk although I doubt even that that was.
SPEAKER: M1
But it brass bands. Yes. And very accessible classical music. I would think my classes mainstream. Yeah. Mainstream classical. Yeah yeah. But really no it never impacted on me.
SPEAKER: M8
In fact I suspect possibly even the Home Service did more than that because at least you might get a bit of comedy on right on on the home service and or perhaps I don't I don't really remember.
SPEAKER: M1
But the real thing was Radio Luxembourg that was the Owen and I as I say that I was introduced to that through my brother and then it became clear that radio Carolina anchored somewhere of Felixstowe I think. And that really blew it all open and it was the first time we didn't hear it in there. And by this time it was in the Isle of Man. So we didn't hear it at all because it was the other side of the country. And but knowing it was there made it even worse if you know what I mean. And then and I was just looking up earlier today that actually Ronan O'Reilly who started pirate right Radio Caroline you know it was only I think a gap of six months bit before because such was the demand in the UK from young people that it was only six months later when I think Radio Caroline as it was became right. Radio Caroline north and another boat came in to service the area the Radio Caroline south as it became. And it happened to be more three miles off our local town Ramsey and the other man on the north west coast. And you know and I had my first I mean in this I had my first sort of interface with celebrity when I queued up for Tom Lodge's autograph as he was getting on I tended to go out to the ship and of course then when it started well it was just unreal because obviously it was American inspired and it was deejays playing music and all the rest of it. And that was my first real big into introduction.
SPEAKER: M2
You mentioned that it was even worse knowing this on the other side of the country there was a oh yeah so the youth were desperate Oh very much which they could not get on. No on the No what got you where when did the music itself become an important part of.
SPEAKER: M1
Well about that time because then I really locked in because I was by this time 15 16 and so by that time. But there was no local you know it wasn't on the circuit for bands I mean I don't remember any.
SPEAKER: M4
Possibly in the capital of the Isle of Man. Douglas that might have been but certainly not out in the stakes. No. So that was my only routine to get what I sort of knew about either from my peers or whatever. Of what was out there and what was to be and what was to be had.
SPEAKER: M11
This stuff was really precious Yeah.
SPEAKER: M1
And can you remember any of the artists that you might have heard and read probably oh I tell you one really embarrassing I'll say it on the last. Russ Conway now don't ask me why. Russ Conway and I do. I sort of suspect that he might been slightly before. CAROLINE Yeah but I must have picked it up from the Light Programme or whatever but I remember Russ com why I remember. Oh gosh. I'm not going to be very good at this right.
SPEAKER: M10
There must have been the Beatles and The Stones on the power play.
SPEAKER: M1
Well yes but that yes but then not that in my head. Yes and clearly again because of the connection between because I knew about Liverpool because that was the only way we ever came to the Isle of Man. Right. Was no train 10 hour journey from Surrey up to Euston. Four hours on the train into Liverpool get to the pier head another four hours and then an hour on the little little train to home. But no. And so yes obviously the Beatles. And you see. Yeah well maybe my memories sort of playing tricks on me but yes we were aware of that but and would have heard it but we wouldn't. I doubt we we certainly wouldn't verdict on Radio 2. I don't think oh sorry on the Light Programme we certainly wouldn't have heard it on the Light Programme. I wouldn't think so. It was clearly through part radio or Luxembourg or know that through that route and the resume.
SPEAKER: M11
I mean skiffle and rock and roll started in the 50s. That was really in the UK context. We were keeping the Americans there. It wasn't really until the Beatles happened that we react UK owned I guess was Oliver at the same time the Beatles just became massive pilot stations followed. And this was when the explosion. Yeah absolutely. Oh absolutely yeah. What we did choose the BBC as a career then in context.
SPEAKER: M12
Well as I gone through school I wouldn't say I was the brightest sharpest pencil in the box but I got three half decent A-levels. Maths further maths and physics and I had no ambition to go to uni but nobody ever explained to me that university wasn't just an extension of the six so I was up to here with learning. Let's put it like that. And of course because my dad and my dad had very good he was he was there at the Golden Age of Radio.
SPEAKER: M8
He really was. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M12
If you know in town tonight. Now bear in mind he was the OBE engineer.
SPEAKER: M8
That's just one story I remember him telling me because by this time he was more of a family man because he retired by that time.
SPEAKER: M1
And you know there was a there's a magazine program called in town tonight which was hosted by Raymond Baxter and it was a bit like the one show is now but only on radio and it would go out and what was happening in London and it would create an oh an opening to the show each week. And they put the presenter Raymond Baxter in an odd location just to pull people in and I can remember you know the opening recorded intro was something that we stopped the mighty roar of London's traffic to bring you. Fanfare of trumpets or whatever in town tonight. Now this particular occasion which dad was the OBE engineer on it. Raymond Baxter would be lying was lying between the tracks while a Flying Scotsman went over him as it was leaving at 7:00. That's when it started to go up to Edinburgh or Glasgow and think about that. It was a steam train with a tinderbox with ashes falling. It happened to me and Dad. Yes. I mean just astonishing. And it was. And I mean Dad had prior to that when the young roy als were when we had an empire and we had the royal. You know Elizabeth and Philip and the kids. Well the kids were about four or five and he used to go on royal tours with them. Certainly I remember him telling us about Africa and he used to have this little club puppet and he kept that that was his sort of foil. Well he used it later when he when somebody asked him if he wanted another drink and he'd get he'd get the glove puppet out for a second opinion and they say Monk do you think we should have another drink. Yes. No no no. Goes on but back with the royal family. He used to entertain Charles and and when they also said they were very young with the glove puppet to keep them amused and then they would say if he wasn't on the job oh where's that Nice Matin with the with the monkey. So anyway so that was always there or thereabouts. So it was so Dad said to me Well why don't you see you know you've got good you've got good science A-levels see if you can get in as a technical op erator or studio manager because I wanted by this time I wanted the music element and I wanted to be creative rather than just the arms and bolts kind of thing. So I went for my first interview in 33 CAF Square which will be etched on my mind for this interview as a studio manager and I didn't get it. And curiously enough I don't know whether it's routine in those days but I when I left the board I sat outside and they said I'll just sit outside and the H.R. guy personnel guy will come out and have a chat with you.
SPEAKER: M8
And he came out and said Well I'm sorry Chris you haven't got the job as an attack post training poster I suppose it was called for studio managers but you know because we're only taking graduates.
SPEAKER: M4
Hold on. You've asked me to the interview. You knew I. Anyway I don't know why but he sort said. But just one of the you know one of the wisest things that were advice that was given to me was he said but you know the BBC is a huge organisation and it's much easier to move around. Once you're in he said so just lower your sights a bit perhaps technical operate which is as I say far more control room based and circuits. And I applied for that and got it. I didn't do another board. That was the only board I did. But clearly off the back of that day with me. Well I joined in 1966 January with the first nineties or beginning of January.
SPEAKER: M8
And that led to three months training at Evesham I wouldn't have gone to Evesham had I been a studio manager because it was really for more technical people and that was sort of like my mini you've university spell I met up with some good friends with you and so friendly I learnt a lot and then was then seconded to London control room in broadcasting house where we dealt with incoming circuits so B's and making sure they were right to go on air before they went through to the continuity or outgoing feeds to the various transmitters and all the rest I guess. And I gained a lot of experience but it wasn't really what I wanted to do.
SPEAKER: M1
And then curiously enough in the wonderful way that the BBC works after about 18 months they realised that they'd recruited too many of my breed I techie bit more and the guy the people that they'd recruited the studio managers. And this is my version and I'm not saying it's entirely right but I think there was an element of this that they'd come in from university with good university appropriate university degrees and possibly were under the impression that they would be producing late night line up and it wasn't like that. You know they were doing they were doing radio stuff and this that and the other.
SPEAKER: M4
So they then in about 99 68 I would guess 18 months or two years after I joined I was doing partly the job that I wanted to do in the first place i.e. working in studios working with music recording bands. I was the tape up. And you know because of my experiences it taught us how to edit down a t shirt. So I got the lot of the skills and done quite a lot of production work identity action.
SPEAKER: M5
But it was then that really I thought I hey I'm on my way here.
SPEAKER: M2
I haven't got time radio one it started in late September 77. Yeah. So the next year this amalgamation happened and how did you find yourself working on radio material.
SPEAKER: M1
Well because what happened was that you know I describe the birth of radio one like the bastard child that was forced to foist on the BBC. You know it was so anachronistic to what the BBC was about reading the news and tie and tails and all the rest of it and all of a sudden it's got this. So what it meant from my predecessors who were curiously enough in control room people like Jeff Griffin Bernie Andrews or they were in different units within that all of a sudden because they had shown an enthusiasm for music. They got whizzed off to staff radio one right you know the BBC didn't know what had hit it in terms of production and how they put it all together. So people as I say so they all went so that then cleared a space for me to get more experience quicker than I maybe otherwise would have had. And so I then threw through the pier. Yeah the P.A. office you know I then sort of.
SPEAKER: M12
And he did have a certain say about where you'd like to work and what you were interested in because he covered classical music which clearly wasn't me. And so I found myself working as tape up on John Peel sessions tape on in concert and so on and so forth.
SPEAKER: M1
So for me it couldn't have all it couldn't have happened at a more opportune time from this period.
SPEAKER: M2
You just mentioned tape hopping on John Peel. I seem to remember radio credits coming out. John Peel would credit us wipe our life.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes. So can you tell us. Yes I'm going to put that one to bed Mr. Walters straightaway. That was I was it was a session that was done in the Playhouse Theatre which was an outside studio. The baby rented at least at the time and the control cubicle was across the aisle. If you imagine going into a theater and you would have the various sort of prop boxes no not from boxes. Walking into a theater there were two cubicles either side of where you walked in and on one side was the was the music mixing panel and on the other side was the recording channel. And I was in the recording channel and we were recorded. I can't I'm afraid I can't tell you who the band was forgotten but nature has a wonderful way of protecting and I. And obviously they were doing take after take of a track but in those days of course the way it was no multi tracks it was overdubbing. And so what you would do as a normal routine is do the instrumental track right or mix down then you'd pay that back out to the band . I know one quarter on quarter inch on quarter inch reel to reel and then you would pay that back into the into the studio and the band would then probably put on lead vocal and perhaps some backing vocals on that and that would become the second generation on a separate quarters on a separate course so you doubling between two machines and then you would play that back and then add the bits and pieces maybe guitar solos maybe another set of backing vocals too. But I mean it was all fixed you couldn't change anything. And so anyway. And on one of these tracks there was an innumerable number of tapes and then they moved on to another another song. But then when it came to put the overdub because we do all the instrumental tracks first then you do it anyway and Walter's who's producing session across on the other side said Oh Chris can you play as version 3 of track 2. And I went back on the tannoy and said there isn't a version three yes there is said no there is anyway. And so from that day forth whether I liked it or not I may may have done more. I don't know but it's more likely that John didn't understand the production process. Explain that that's all legally possible it was an intermediate anyway. I don't know Ben so but henceforth Yeah. He then called me why so I sat and I've waited 45 years to hear.
SPEAKER: M11
Yeah no it's absolutely right. We still became very good friends.
SPEAKER: M2
And I miss him a lot. Now you mentioned top gear. Yeah. When radio 1 started daytime radio did fundamentally change and it changed from Palm corps orchestras and strings and dance bands to top 40 format really and middle of the road pop. And you know if you were lucky if you could fight your way through Jimmy Young doing cooking recipes and you know competitions and singing with us to pay on what the man rescued me. Yeah. Yeah. What's the recipe today Jim. All of that stuff. So that was very much of a placebo for the radio one thing and that's my own jaundiced view but no real accurate the real nuggets Well the evenings and the weekends went things like Top Gear would pop up and up you know from 1958 the late program gave us two hours of teenagers music on a Saturday. You'd get skiffle. Rock and roll jazz blues country bluegrass music which was not considered mainstream for a couple of hours. Suddenly we are finding in the evening all sorts of boxes of delights on the John Peel show. 
SPEAKER: M10
So tell us what what that was like in those days how different it was and also the difference between recording you playing and record and picking a session and what the difference between those media was and I was so important.
SPEAKER: M1
Well I mean that was largely down to the zeal and diligence of Bernie Andrews and Bernie Andrews never fitted in to the template of back in the day. But he never fitted into the template that beyond his but back in the day of the BBC season idea of a muse a popular music producer. Bernie was the rebel Bernie campaigned to get people on the air people that had the had the reputation through Caroline or no it wasn't it was Radio London sorry Red Pill it had the reputation through Radio London with the perfumed garden that got this huge under swell. And again the BBC only went down the road of what it perceived young people wanted or should have or should have. Well yes but yes but what if you see. Yes. And so you know. So then Bernie crusaded and crusaded and crusaded and I. One of my first memories of meeting paled was I was API and one of my one of the tasks of the play was because we know cell phone desks the BBC the presenter with the exception probably of the Breakfast Show which did have a cell phone that's for just too.
SPEAKER: M2
That would mean somebody like Tony Blackburn spinning as well.
SPEAKER: M1
Yeah. Which is the norm now. Yes they would pay. They would play their own record Radio Caroline. That's how that's how it was that was how music from America or broadcasting popular music from America happened. Oh no. I mean you know. But certainly I got round. That wasn't how it happened in the BBC. No. No. But with the possible exception of the breakfast show. Yeah. I I honestly can't that because I wasn't involved in it but then so on a Friday afternoon as I remember in one of the basement studios in Broadcasting House B6 I was playing in the records for people you know so he would be through the glass as I'm sure a lot of people have seen you know through the glass with a script rack and. And the producer would cue him to a wave through the window to speak and say if I did the record down and he'd say Now we've got Danny's purple intentions with whatever whatever both. And I would play the recorded one. And for me this was this you know I was nearly where you know where I wanted to be because it was music I liked and it was the erm the Kinks. I mean it was and it was progressive. But you know looking back and I just remember what I'm pale you know appeal was by this time fully hippy fied. And I just remember. It was a shy high it wasn't a Friday it was a Sunday we did it on a Sunday it was a lovely Sunday song.
SPEAKER: M8
It was a sun I lie it was a Sunday that we recorded it tells me when it went to out.
SPEAKER: M1
But anyway we wanted to. We would have far rather been in the sun you know now. And I just remember people at the end of it saying well that's all for today listen I think I should go for a walk in Regent's Park and watch the clouds write poems in the sky. And I said I don't think I thought this is weird. I knew it well enough but that was my introduction to and that's where I basically thought I want to be part of the production team that that makes that develops that side of things rather than top 40 and the newest is the BBC couldn't play records all day could it. No. That was what we called needle time. Yeah. And of course that was the other thing that actually did play into the hands of life. Well live or recorded as live studio get studio perform before Bernie.
SPEAKER: M2
What was the traditional way of filling the gap in needle time because the logic was that the people forget it wasn't just the musicians union but also the record companies backing them up didn't want the BBC to play records all the musicians union because they wanted work and they wanted to work in BBC Studios broadcasting live. And the record companies in the early eighties thought it over exposure of a record would diminish search their records. So the what was the traditional method of filling out the deejays talking below and featured aspect have peaked.
SPEAKER: M1
Dance band covers of pop. Oh God yes sorry. Yes dodgy I say. Get the NGO were. There was a big hole you obviously had a good reputation and yet non dancehall orchestra was about as capable capability could have of trying badly to replicate. Yeah you know what what was heard on vinyl. So yes. Oh and they had the live pop shows at lunchtime one at one o'clock club and stuff like that was Joe Lawson and stuff like that. But no I mean it was it. And you're absolutely right. But it was a total fudge for the BBC to fill out those.
SPEAKER: M2
So you say you'd want to use Jimi Hendrix playing Purple Haze and what you get the ending.
SPEAKER: M5
Yes. Yes with flutes or cross but. Yes Rose. Yes.
SPEAKER: M10
I mean you know so Manus was I read a read John Walters comment once that he said that during when he first started schooled him in the ways of filling up the airwaves or you can't play records all that so you get your house band and you get them in like Johnny arty or whatever and you get them to cover some top 40 stuff. Bernie had quite a different view on top gear.
SPEAKER: M1
So what happened. Well I think Bernie just did what he believed in and you know and and actually in my memory well it was what the kids wanted to hear and it it you know and somehow it was immune from all of these things that they B.S. You know management in the BBC in those days I thing really just saw the evenings as an inconvenience you know. And if that meant that needle time went but of course Bernie developed sessions and of course bands quite liked. I mean going back to in concert which was sort of part of that club if you like but you know the point was or became the fact that bands would be in a studio recording an album they go through all the angst and all of the aggro of getting the finished product they would then go on tour. And certainly as far as in concert was concerned and probably and thinking about it. Sessions as well they were all routine. They knew what they were doing all right. They would they would probably overdub but they'd come into a BBC studio to do a J ohn Peel Session or an in concert. And that would then be broadcast and would act as promotion for the album or the single and promotion for the Tor. So it was in that sense it was a win win. But I'm quite sure that you know as far as the accounting of needle time went that you know there was more Johnny art. But one day Johnny Arthur on daytime because there was an ongoing out in the evenings.
SPEAKER: M2
Yeah I know. I think the like you say I think the management would breathe a sigh of relief that they didn't have to worry about these off peak times when it in their courts it didn't matter. Those were precisely the time oh yeah people were hot and the music would tune into you. Oh absolutely. And isn't it true to say that Bernie very often would put people on the radio that didn't even have a record contract over finding.
SPEAKER: M1
Oh probably. Oh almost certainly an came by word of mouth or I mean there was a guy what was his name. Who Walters saw busking on the tube. Yes it was the arrow. I might come back and we might you know La Bolan T Rex for an example. Yeah yeah yeah. And you know and it's inconceivable that the music industry wouldn't have sort of taken the leap it did had that that avenue for that. There were been broadcasts and a lot of that was down to Bernie having Oh without imagination.
SPEAKER: M2
Yeah. I'm not going to record a crap dance band doing. No I'm gonna get somebody in who. Yeah. OK. People in London it's happening in the clubs but the people you know the kids throughout the UK have never had this. I'm going to put it on the radio and see your Legos.
SPEAKER: M1
Yeah. Oh absolutely. And these were the LED Zeppelin's and Pink Floyd. Oh absolutely yeah.
SPEAKER: M13
Yeah. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M2
But in terms of Top Gear you you didn't do.
SPEAKER: M1
I never did many sound mixes for talking to any. No I don't know. How did you get into mixing well because that was sort of the natural progression. Actually I did. I do remember that well it wasn't for Top Gear. Yeah it was fit to do with Bob Harris. Right. Right. And I remember made five. Yeah. And it was Bowie. All right. Oh and Griffin a book Bowie and I think it was about the time of Ziggy Stardust. I booked I mean maybe that was the only thought he could get. I don't know but a morning session in May develop five. And John Eccles was my tape up and it was probably one of the first I think no because I've done country music and I cut my teeth. Come back and tell us about the country music because that was really when you started mixing wasn't it. Yes it was. Yeah sorry. So tell us you know. Yeah well well so. So I again I had played well of course country music with them. It was a Country Magazine previously had a live band on the stage at the Playhouse Theatre but also you play ed records and there was Wally Whiteman who was the main presenter. And you'd have and it was country meets folk and you know I mean I developed a really good relationship with the Sutherland brothers and I developed a really good relationship with Gallagher and Lyle and then but on the other hand we used to get bands over from the country back. So it was a helix made big stars. Of course it was deeply unfashionable. Country yes yes. I mean these days you know it's pretty cool but not well it's stopped clock is right twice that a little bit. Yeah but anyway so. So no. So I was I was playing records in all. No I don't think I ever worked across the way. In the recording channel and then we'll build back. Give you a chance to do. Yeah. No. In Grant in Grant in Grant did and in gave me the chance to go and I mean I did enjoy that because it was live and it was direct and and you know as I say we had the big names. And so then from that that was where I cut my teeth on on Sound Mixing a nd then that led to me doing the odd session that made. And the Bowie one I remember was so get it.
SPEAKER: M4
We were back to not as alive it was three three or two overdubs and so on and so forth. And we said earlier you know the routine was you'd put the instrumental track down all the bands. The band turned up for that and they were going to no sign it Bowie eventually Bowie strolls in. And I I know this to be true but I can't quite think why he hadn't seen. I don't I'm sure it wasn't the first session.
SPEAKER: M11
Maybe it was a stoplight or you I can give you a bit background. He had previously been recording a transcription unit and he'd done so much transcription unit had a multi-track multi-track. So just a few weeks beforehand. Oh really. You didn't for John Muir. He'd done some of the same tracks. OK. So he was expecting to come into a studio. Right. That's him.
SPEAKER: M1
He probably went straight into the studio and did the backing tracks and then committed to playback and so he wanted to do and he just took one look at the mixing desk which was old you know roadie rep Rotary pots and battleship grey casing and all the rest of it. And he just took one look at it and he said Fuck make it safer. So fuck me it looks like the flight deck of a Lancaster bomber which is not surprising because it was World War 2 vintage Yeah. And the people who did the chassis for that were subcontractors. Well as they used to do Rolls-Royce is making loads that I know I know but it was just wonderful I I think and I don't think I'm making this up now you remember I said Well yeah. But you know we it sounds quite good. I said I could try and get a cover other over a proper mixing desk and put two hands hold you know so I could operate.
SPEAKER: M5
This may be I remember a third. But the sound will be the same but it turned out to be a good session which I was very happy with some desk and against planes.
SPEAKER: M11
And of course to remind everybody very few people knew who David Bowie was hit with with his Space Oddity right. But then he vanished for a company. Yeah. This was before Ziggy Stardust was released. You recorded. Really. Yeah. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M1
Anyway but no it was I mean it was I always describe it as being halfway good and being just so lucky to be there at that time in the BBC. Well I don't think I would've seen the light of day in a commercial recording studio that stage because they were I don't know because that wasn't my background but I did I did. I did through with Ian Grant. I did do was a. They weren't half bad. A country banded British country band called Hill siders yes. And I did an album with them. It's probably here somewhere an album with them down at the bonds that Olympic back in the day but but no. And anyway it wasn't for me. I was about capturing the sound that went onto the concert side of things and that's where I was really most at home on that subject.
SPEAKER: M10
You mentioned in concert I distinctly remember the evolution. I came back from Cyprus and suddenly had radio one just started happening and I would get top gear on a Saturday afternoon with John Peel presenting on a Sunday you would get in concert and of course the evolution was the top gear John Peel eventually took over that programme and it more or less became the John Pilcher although it wasn't called that and then songs of the 70s strand happened where people like Top Gear would only be one evening a week rather than the weekend. Bob Harris would do one. Alan Black would do one. Pete Drummond would do one. And that would rotate through through the weir. And those were the sessions that you worked on with. Yep. Bob Harrison and David Bowie and then in 69. Jeff Griffin was running the pub with Led Zeppelin. You were bemoaning the fact that he had to cut down their tracks to fit a two minute format for Radio 1 2 and it is being on anyway.
SPEAKER: M11
Yeah. Got three minutes. Oh fuck it.
SPEAKER: M2
And he said well look if I can get you a concert programme on the radio where you can do what you know basically do your hours on a radio would you be interested in of course they've been signed off. And that was the beginning of in concert September 69 1970 January the 1st it starts the series starts proper. Tell us your place and in concert we're in concert.
SPEAKER: M12
I started off as leaping about which was like being stage manager making sure things were working the band's equipment was tying in the wonderful P.A. and all Dick's crappy with it with orange speakers which you well you wouldn't even have them in your house these days.
SPEAKER: M1
And I know and and then I who else is working on the door. NS Well Tony Wilson was the sound mixer and he was very good he went on to be producer of the album for even rock show and so on and so forth but no. So I'd rather be doing that or I was in I was tape hopping and I would be recording it and that that continued for some time but I was in I was in there and I mean there was some brilliant brilliant performances and then one day Griffin rang me up and said Oh great.
SPEAKER: M4
And this goes back to what I was saying about how there was this acceleration of promotion because the BBC or Radio 1 didn't have enough of the skilled people to do the jobs. And Tony Wilson who was the in situ sound mixer for in concert was being promoted to being a producer and so Griffin Jeff Griffin said Oh Chris I want you to take over in concert to sound mix. And I said Jeff I don't think I'm ready for that you know really. And that was false modesty really. They said No no I've heard what you've done on country these folk I've heard some of the sessions you've done and so now the sessions are different because you have a bit more time to chop and change you know you've got to capture it and he said Well no I'm prepared to put my vote for you I want you to do it. So it will be for a month or so anyway call me back about I can't remember three weeks or a month later and he said oh well you're doing a week on Thursday. Okay who's the band. He's got a very dry sense of humor Mr Gr iffin.
SPEAKER: F2
And he said oh it's a pink floyd I said You're kidding. Said no.
SPEAKER: M1
I said oh he said oh and by the way they've got a 20 piece choir and a 12 piece brass section I was absolutely bricking it.
SPEAKER: M4
I really was and eventually come the day I got in. As tradition would be about 11:00 in the morning start setting up the stage and worked out where it's going to put the brass section and I worked out where it's going to put the choir and the band in the middle. And. And then they all started to arrive at the other end eventually by about half past three I had to go down and so I was by this time listening to various bits and pieces as they were doing it and I had to go down onto the stage to move a couple of drum mikes I suspect. And by this time they'd actually got the rock band plus the choir all going at the same time and I'd never heard anything.
SPEAKER: M1
I never heard a rock band with a brass section. And it sounded so good in the hall I got to be a real practice if I can't get this it's right here and you know and I know I know it's got its failings but it captured the moment. And from that I went on to do in concert not terribly long that thing because again my memory serves me as few years but no I mean it was wonderful but it was absolutely having come from country meets folk and and having capturing live events and then you know you shouldn't under songs country music because I was very tough yes actually. Well early there were lots of different flags here different bands. Yeah. Remarkably. We had a wonderful way for the folk acts on that. So the Johnston's you remember the Johnsons. Well they were an Irish trio and you know they both played guitars and they all sang close harmony. So we. So what we used to do was put two omni or very wide card the old mikes one one hanging down for the vocals one on the floor started going up a nd they did their own balance. So you said Look you said that right. That's where you stand for the three piece stuff. If you've got a solo you lean into that and if you've got a you've got a solo vocal you know and then the country bands needed something a bit more manageable. But no it was all just part of learning a trade I suppose really and getting back to the Pink Floyd.
SPEAKER: M2
The album was Atom Heart Mother. Yes. Tell us about the conversation.
SPEAKER: M1
Oh well so this was again during the during the rehearsal and people are derived by this time and he was talking to Dave Gilmore about what they were going to play and that'd be what they wanted highlighting all the rest of it. And as I said earlier it was all from from the band's point of view of the record companies but it was all to promote the album and Bob about the tour and dated Ed which hadn't and we hadn't even been released and until quite reasonably said well what's the album called and. And they said well we haven't gotten a print and pair with a remarkable sense of perception so well how can I promote it. Everyone got a title for the damn thing and the. And so and they were standing in front of the stalls the front row of the stores and somebody had left an evening standard on one of the seats there. And Dave Gilmore looked down on the banner headline on The Evening Standard that that day was a story about a woman who had been fitted with a heart pacemaker and she was th e first woman in Britain with a pacemaker to have given birth and the banner headline was Atom Heart Mother and he looked down. So we call it Atom Heart Mother. Now I'm as sure as I can be that that is not apocryphal right. Maybe there is slight nuances in that whoever tells it but that's as I remember it.
SPEAKER: M13
And for those who are technically minded the pacemaker had an atomic clock. Yes. Yes and then you did you work in a sapling concert. Yep. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M1
No not really. No. You know it sounds really a my memory's crap but B it's makes me sound a bit blasé but I don't know you know the time.
SPEAKER: M2
I can understand it because I mean I worked on some of them with you. I'm worked on a pink floyd concert with you. And the thing was it had to be done really quickly. You didn't have time to think you slam out the mikes in the afternoon. A quick rehearsal. Back in the evening and you're holding it and let's not forget it was all being mixed in life.
SPEAKER: M1
So oh TOTALLY sing or others no remixing at all.
SPEAKER: M2
I can understand that. I mean I probably had a better chance as a tape pop. I can actually stand there and watch.
SPEAKER: M1
Yeah oh I was bricking it next door. And I still hear some light fades on ATOM heart Mother. You know the brass. Oh fuck you know I do. I still hear those.
SPEAKER: M9
The way you do that for a couple of years then you.
SPEAKER: M1
What happened after. Well on that period but and this wasn't strategic. But I did manage to keep just going back to the way radio 1 was run in those days. The production side of Radio 1 is it was in a building called Acton house and there were two floors where the production staff and it filtered into the third floor was the creatives let's say. So that was top gear it was John Walters it was John Peel it was Jeff Griffin it was Kevin Howlett it was a big documentary maker back in the day and the fourth floor was the daytime output. And because then again because they were still short of producers skilled producers in whichever area they worked I got some of my early days at Radio One I remember probably when I was still on an because the BBC had this wonderful thing where you went on attachment when they needed you and then you were sent back to studio manager. This is before we've jumped ahead of it. But I remember doing daytime programs and that was programming records with the de ejay. I read some of my earliest memories of that was Pete Paul Barnett who I still maintain was the only deejay who had a sense of humor with about half of it in the daytime. I mean he was a very funny guy and I worked with Paul Burnett Peter Power but that. So I managed and it wasn't strategic. It just was the way it was. I flipped between the two.
SPEAKER: M2
So it was quite a distinct culture between oh the fourth floor which was all ratings. Mark Yeah yeah risk aversion. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. Culture. And then there was the third floor. Barney Jeff and and searched John Peel census.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes absolutely unnerving they put the person who coined that was one of my when I became head of head of production for the whole lot which was a bit of a challenging task but my one of my predecessors Roger Lewis cook because he was waged and he always had a way of just getting the right phrase and he sort of set ratings by day reputation by night and I thought yeah you're right. You know you may be a pompous chap but yeah you're right. And that's how it was. But Sutton for whatever reason and to be honest with you I didn't feel so satisfied when I was working on the fourth floor with the pop in part but I really enjoy I enjoyed the logistics of it. And again going back to why I never really graduated or moved across into television I loved radio for its flatness of foot and some of the fun fun and good broadcasting times. I remember it Ray was with the pope in part because we'd go off and we do because you could you could go off with an OBE unit Iraqi not a lot of setting up and yo u could get really you know with Peter Powell we K which was Saturday morning Saturday and Sunday mornings and I said it's Saturday morning when kids are out doing let us go and do some of the things that kids I remember doing ab sailing life not me but Peter Paul who was a bit of an action man you know doing ab sailing up a cliff face and we did it live the radio played a few records in from bass and all the rest of it. We did Kenya on a water aid project there and it was and it was I enjoyed it different kind of but because it was much more production led rather than creative of this.
SPEAKER: M13
That makes sense. It's interesting talking about those days. The the erm the management style I mean you said it before.
SPEAKER: M2
I think the fourth floor people the controller and the exacts were quite relieved that the third floor people would take care of the.
SPEAKER: M1
Oh yeah. SHARP And they operated rather than. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M2
Phil understood it and they understood so little of it and they would just let people get on with it. So there was a great benefit shows off and I wasn't through any in my view wasn't through any beneficence on their part saying well we'll give these people a chance it was I don't understand this I'm just going to let them get on with it. And as a result we got a lot of good broadcasting out of that. What's your view in terms of I mean I can't see it wouldn't happen these days and the BBC would it I don't think so because it's all so much more structured and controlled and all the rest of it.
SPEAKER: M1
But you know my view is I won't name any names but some of the you know some of the controllers were not fit for purpose. But again why should they be. They'd come from grandma's department. They come from but you know what I mean. And if they if they were naming names but you know they were more a kid. But I don't think there was any controller who was third floor friendly put it like that. No I like you say most of them were probably right up until Roger Lewis more or less right.
SPEAKER: M2
Well there were a gramophone department audience which meant they didn't have anything to do with like. No no I don't even like music people. And if you were lucky a better chance yeah. And they had no conception of what was. So these days it's all you know focus group. Yes everything is measured compliance and all of that stuff. So you won't have any chance of doing that. This is when you when I'm interested in the evolution the way that happened. When did radio 1 as we knew it where for better or for worse there was a lot of warts and a lot of worse. There was some extremely good betters. When did that kind of peter out change into more and more facemask. We have no.
SPEAKER: M1
Well I'm trying to think of controllers. I think it probably started in the mid 80s or late 80s early 90s and I think it did when then you know there was still well I mean I'll say the name. You wouldn't mind me saying this but Johnny Daly. He was Mr. roadshow you know he was out there with the masses doing daytime radio. Fine. But he I think probably at that stage he let it grow in that department and he let them but he was probably more supportive if indeed management I mean BBC radio management sort of raised an eyebrow.
SPEAKER: M4
But no I think it was quite well handled from Billings period. But the one thing I remember was there was a guy who was the assistant to the controller and he was measuring man. You know he. He he came round and I can remember sitting and skipping on a bit but I can remember sitting in a production meeting in Walter's office and the Walter's office was no big. Well this room very small. And there was pale myself. Walter's behind his desk. And Andy Kershaw sitting in an upturned rubbish bin.
SPEAKER: M1
And Dave Price and I we were talking about what was going into Kurt. By this time Kershaw was on board. I mean Kershaw as voters with this guy was like the blue bottle that came into the Peel environment Walters and bail and just was bouncing off the walls. Anyway we were all talking in there and Dave Price walked in this guy and he he came in with a clipboard.
SPEAKER: M4
Well that was his first mistake and he addressed him. So we were there you know we stopped talking about what we were talking about. And and Dave Davies sadly died but Dave Dave sort said John I need to talk to you about the John Peel archive. John Peel archive was a small cupboard room just by the lifts on the third floor where any of the session tapes got stored got stored fairly methodically but they were kept it didn't go to library Walters wouldn't trust the record or the tape library. He wouldn't trust it.
SPEAKER: M1
He said you know we need we need some space in there Walters just dug in and said how much space. And again day being measuring analysis of where we need at least at least two yards worth of space.
SPEAKER: M4
Well that was just like a red rag to a bull wall. Okay. Bear in mind it's all full of session tapes.
SPEAKER: M1
And he said so which two yards do you want Dave do you want the two yards That's a to see which includes both a Bubba blah blah blah blah. All the x to z or whatever you know a day just was speechless at this. You know. And he just sort of turned on his heel as he went out the door. He said Well something's got to be done still.
SPEAKER: M8
And I know it's not an original I know I don't know who said it first. As the door slammed behind Walt it's just turned to us and said There he goes. The man who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
SPEAKER: M1
You know and I mean and that was so uneven Bernie. Well I mean you know Bernie probably wouldn't put it quite in that way but Bernie would have just confronted Dave said Debbie so stupid. But yeah but yeah that was very much. But I mean that was day but bailing. Well Dave Dave was a numbers man and that's what he did. No budget no fuel for Reginald and the rest of it.
SPEAKER: M2
Interesting you said that the era started to change about mid to late 80s. Yeah. Because in the middle of the 80s we had livid. Of course many of the bands who are headliners at lively that started off on top gear or in concerts so nobody knew them at all. And my contention live aid was in concert on the television the television guys did the pictures. But the soundtrack for the television and there was always listened to by I think two billion people that's the biggest thing ever. And that was that was live it. And of course that was the culmination of that generation and all of the people who the punk rockers had written off as dinosaurs like Queen and Bowie and so on. We're still now. And you know it was it was a great testament to people that last year and Danny and yourselves were also people like that. You worked on it with Jeff Jeff was the lead Jeffries the lead. You were the. You were in the other van right. A lot people don't realize there were two vans there. Yeah I one yo u in the other and very quick 20 minutes to change over. No Mike check there were on the air. So tell us about.
SPEAKER: M1
Oh well seat of the pants stuff it was but if I may just go back a bit and I was still low compared with Jeff I was still sort of new kid on the block and I remember going to one of the planning meetings I I imagine that might have been more before but they still hadn't worked out the television and well no actually the BBC hadn't agreed to it that stage is kind of Kensington house and Geldof was there and I was there and Tom Corcoran Mike Appleton who were the television side of it and you know there were lots of grey men there lots of BBC great men. And Bob was getting more and more frustrated the just the opposition he was getting from these gray men so saying Yeah but you know it's going to require this. It's good it did. And it went on and on and Bob was visibly getting more and more as maybe Jeff's told you this. No really no. And getting more and more scrutiny is more diplomatic than that. And eventually I'd never see I'd been to a few gray men's meetings but not many them had Geldof had a father of all his stuff in it and he just stood up and he banged the file on the table he said for fuck's sake.
SPEAKER: M5
He said if you don't give it the green light it'll never happen. And there. And then he went into his.
SPEAKER: M1
You know that you're absolutely right. They were all they were. They'd never been spoken to like they'd never experienced anything like. And I talk to Geldof since about it and he said Yeah. And he was so passionate and he is and he was. And I'm just getting back to the logistics so as you rightly say Jeff is the lead producer on it. The bands were sorted out between television and radio and that wasn't my. But when I when I was there was it was I was the second unit band with a guy called very good sound mixer Dave Dave. Jeff had Mike Robinson but as you rightly point out there were there were two mobiles. That was all. And I mean the BBC was I mean Geldof was right. The BBC was the only broadcasting organisation. Bear in mind it was before satellites and all of that you know. And was the only organisation that could have put it on. And so but the problem was that we had three stages. And the way the stages were managed was to be one bands under the stage one band setting up in a co urtroom. This is a circus circular circular stage it would rotate split into. Yes. So one bands performing the next band on is setting up down below. And the band that's just been on is the rigging and that's how it went. But of course anybody knows that 3 and 2 doesn't go. So in terms of plugging it we couldn't have three inside right. That's Stage 1 that's the which would have given that wasn't the facility. So of course what it meant was a lot of change of connections for different bands lineups and different the that in-between cross plugging the mikes. I mean I still don't know. And the only cock up which was at the end of the day a significant significant was losing McCartney's vocal because the plugs had been on and of course under the stage. BBC engineers were working with roadies to make sure the plugging at that end was right and to be honest with you I don't know at this stage whether it was that end or our and I remember driving home from that when it had gone off to Phi ladelphia and just and it was a hot night. I was just driving back through the streets of northwest London and every window is open and out of it you could hear and it was just magic and you know I was so yeah and it was and you know it. And I mean I think the Beeb has always been in various fields you know if you can all right and I would still think it's a plus it can motivate the machine that is the BBC currently.
SPEAKER: M8
I think it is you know the best broadcasting organisation but I would say that wouldn't like brilliant tell.
SPEAKER: M2
Tell us about meeting Mr Geldof years later in Europe gathering in France. Walking into the bar.
SPEAKER: M5
This is how. Oh yeah.
SPEAKER: M1
Oh God I've got to do a bit of a backstory here because how many years later is this. Oh God. Well that. Well that was eighty five at a rough guess. 2005. OK. 20 years. Yeah. But. But the funny thing was that we had been we had been through one of my other mates who I met at Evesham back in the day. He'd had.
SPEAKER: M8
He went down and worked in a recording set about a recording studio in the south of France.
SPEAKER: M4
Or he ran it and he had bought a little flat. So our association with the South of France was we rented the flat that he bought down there on the on the coast near Santa Fe. And so we we we didn't grated with the local community and that did it. And then you've been there for decades. Yeah. We'd been there probably since late seventies I would think and either renting and then I manage. Oh is when I left the Bay when I first for the first time in my life I had a bit of disposable dosh and I bought a flat next door to where it's like Jim Brackett you know John's next door. And on that anyway and Andy and I were sitting at owner we'd spoken to somebody a local who was the had come and they were setting up a sort of property sounds to grant said property that they would manage property that was later the house is falling down. And we we made friends with this young this couple and they were running a property management service within you know getting flats cleaned if you were letting t hem out and that they were just talking and she was being a bit indiscreet one evening as you just ideas and she knew I worked for Radio wants to do it too. I should really tell you this but we're looking for a property for Bob Geldof now that to come because they do work because my wife works for the Prince's Trust and she knows Jerry Hall and Jerry Hall has a place. Three villages down. So somehow in that great band Jerry had said which make it bought a lovely old doctors house in St. Clair. And anyway. And so anyway so she and Jerry had said we. We subsequently found out Bob. Well if you're looking for somewhere near fat job. The Bob Murray the French film actress and I think she wanted to patch in France because he got the place in France in Spain which is where Paul you left. Anyway I don't know. Anyway so we knew Bob Geldof was interested and then only and I probably I don't remember two or three weeks later we're just sitting having an apple row in the when you look at our lo cal on the terrorists you see. And I've got my back to where people would come in and I see this hunched figure walking past ladies. Now you just knew. I thought it Geldof.
SPEAKER: M1
So a big perverse I could see he was trying to be incognito which wasn't to it wasn't necessary talk as I remember trying to explain to Dad at the bar only one time about live 8 totally passed him by weird anyway. And so Bob slouching pastures and meeting up with Jan and I just said hi Bob. Nice shrink like that.
SPEAKER: M5
He turned around he said. I said What the fuck are you doing here. I said more to the point what the fuck are you doing here. I've been coming here for the last 20 years.
SPEAKER: M11
But now he and he's now why not a neighbor but his is so jovial long before he was. Oh yeah. And in terms of the Bafta for livid. You know what that was given to the whole production. Yes. Yes. Yes I looked it up on that on the website. Do you stick on your web page that you've gotten a masters on my Web page doesn't exist anymore.
SPEAKER: M2
Getting back to John Walters and subject on John Walters. He had a long career from starting over taking over from Bernie and top union evolved into the John Peel show. He was on that for many years. Then there was Walters weekly. Just tell me what you remember about the relationship between himself and John Paul and how his broadcasting career evolved and what your personal interest in that was.
SPEAKER: M1
John's first introduction into the BBC and Radio One was. He was a trumpeter in the northeast with the Alan Price set and they were booked on a session in Aeolian too which was a very nice building in Bond Street. And it was what we called a strip session. So what would happen is they come in play for songs and then they would be stranded throughout a week or whatever across radio one mainstream and be played. So again as you said earlier it was all to do with needle time and musicians union and all the rest of it. John came in and observed this. He'd been an art teacher up in Newcastle or up that way and he perceived the producer who was storing Davis who later went on to be head of production. Doreen was a law unto herself and he noticed that her real role in producing this session was to time it. Check the intro for a voice over the top the duration of the intro to get the composer and publish details and as far as oh and go on the top back and say that's lovely. And that was it y ou see. And Walter's so I could do that and that's how he Kay got himself into the BBC when he got himself into the BBC. Somebody probably like another guy who is a good guy called Teddy Warwick and Teddy had come from as a gram library producer I think because there was a distinction recorded music in life. This is before the days of radio one and I suspect Teddy got John in and John it very soon became clear and Teddy was executive producer of the evening strand. So again Teddy should be mentioned in terms of how that that the difference between mainstream and he was one of the good guys. He was a good guy very good guy lovely guy. And anyway so in a in amongst that Walters started were I thinking about it I bet it was Teddy who who finished that got Walters in. I don't think Teddy knew Walters before or maybe Walter sort Teddy out as executive. I don't know. And of course it was a marriage made in heaven you know and some of the quotes about the relationship between Walters and a nd pale. I mean I remember Walters described probably to the press I dealt with those present at the interview but I'm pretty sure it's true he said well it's like a man and his dog each believing the other to be the dog or you know I just make sure in that relationship I own I'm the man and I make sure he doesn't cock his leg too long at any particular musical lamp post. I mean he was one of the funniest men I've ever met you know and not funny in any of the peer kind of thing just um Wolters again in a sense. I mean I wouldn't take anything away from Bernie but Walters was much more shrewd in how he handled the management. Walters would they they they would just sort of spun if you like to use common vernacular to do the just just to believe that you know it worked. And and I think Walters because he had an arts background and a degree in fine arts and I think he had a much broader vision of what could be included in terms of power. And in terms of other news storytelling storytel ling and yes I. Cutler as you mentioned you know people like that they would. I don't I don't think they would have gotten in on the burners. And so he built the he built the the evening show into something that was much broader and and actually you know much fitted the BBC remit to inform educate and entertain. You know if you if you're going back to sort of first principles and I you know I I sort of buddy up with it very much as is sort of I was gonna say able assistant and you know we I honestly can't tell you where the genesis of Walter's weekly came up but I was I mean although I was credited on the produce you know as a producer of it I was Robin to his Batman. I mean there's no two ways about that. And I can remember going off with him and all of the features were prerecorded and I just thought I'm learning a lot about art. I mean it wasn't my strong strong subject. I'm learning about artists. And and I thought if I'm learning it then the audiences because he was so engaged he was the classic broadcaster. He was made for it. And you know and then we won the broad casting Press Guild award for it as the best new show or whatever it was. And I can remember and it was we had two runs we had twelve week runs and we got the award towards the end of the second run and the awards. Curiously enough everything is outside cyclical was at the Playhouse theatre so quite rightly John went to pick me warmed up. I was in the audience and he went on and he sort of said well it's a field in such an august gathering you know to be recognized by your peers as being you know in an ad but it's rather it's a rather unfortunate timing. And there's a bit of a murmur around the audience. So well you know because Will's weekly is being axed he said Well no. To be fair I get to be fair to the radio and management it's being rested but in my experience rested in this context is rather like the woman walking down the street with her young child and they see a dead cat in the gutte r and she says I don't go near that darling it's just resting and he got a round of applause for it. I just thought you know. Yes. And of course it did. Why didn't come back. I don't know because it was yet another jewel in the public service broadcasting crown of the BBC. Walters and I would talk about what we were covering I think he saw me as a lifeline that thinks it's a load of bollocks. Then maybe I won't do it or maybe unmodified I think he saw me as the common man not unreasonably and as I say I did all of the tacky stuff.
SPEAKER: M14
You know I always carried the recording machine and you know and he was he was just so excited and you actually see not so much now. But I can remember after it came off and there were lots of artists.
SPEAKER: M1
I mean one I do remember going to his gallery in Listen Grove somewhere a guy called Bill Woodrow was a very creative sculptor and and all of a sudden there was a whole rash of those sort of people who suddenly in the Sunday Times color section you know arts section or whatever you see them five years later as being hailed as you know the next best thing.
SPEAKER: M2
Yeah. Ward can you remember of any particular features or artists or themes that you know because it was totally random.
SPEAKER: M14
You know he didn't. He did because he was there the eat the thing from the pet cemetery.
SPEAKER: M1
It was art but it could be as I say this guy Bill Woodrow what he used to do was take disused washing machines one word and he'd sort of peeled the metal of the washing machine and fashioned it into a wild animal. And it was all really to do with how industry is killing the wild animal. I mean it's hard to explain. But I mean what reporters would have been infinitely better than I am. But it was always in an artistic it was oh yes. And it could be music. I mean you know we did.
SPEAKER: M6
I can't remember now.
SPEAKER: M1
I'm sorry. But I mean it was ground. It's an art now. It's an arts program. Oh yeah right. Logistics at live. Right.
SPEAKER: M2
So just give us a bit more of an idea of how because I know that it was practically zero rehearsal.
SPEAKER: M1
No there was none. Well you know there would be a line. So what would happen first of all how many bands were on 21. I would say about 20. Yeah. But they're there I suppose we could count. But of course that includes a very manageable 20 or 30 somewhere. Yeah. But but but the logistics would be so obviously the setup was put in obese would have gone in with not the build of the stage but you know the back end of that building. Were whether any rehearsals before the day. No. No. And what happened on the day was that you would get a line check from the first band it was on what like this is the snare drum. Yes yes yes. So they appeared as what you thought were the snare drum. So and we would get that. Yeah. So that was just purely to check that the connectivity from the mike on the stage it was a working and B and a chance to get a very crude level test on it and that. And then because we flip flopped between these three stages so bad one would say would be with mobile a band two would be with mobile B band three would be back with mobile a band four would be with mobile B and so on and so forth. And that's how it progressed. So what it meant was that as underneath the stage they were setting up the next band. That is when the S M Mike Mike Robinson who was as I said earlier the doyenne of sound mixers especially in that field. And Dave Dave similarly so in my truck they would be making the adjustments and trying to get a feel for what was going to hit them when the thing went up on stage and they started coming. Mike lines wouldn't have to deal with per band probably in the order of 20 30. Yeah I mean probably. So you'd get a rough level. But no. No. No idea. No idea. They would have all it. I have an idea of the uh the running order of the band. We'd have the running the bands running order so they'd be familiar with a let me be familiar with the music. If they were lucky they might've done a session with them or they might have done an in concert with them. Bu t no it was seat of the pants. And then what I believe is four minute segments 20 minute. Yeah I think so about that maybe a bit longer for some 20 minutes on the and they were off. Yeah. Another band. Yeah straight away. Yeah. Well I would go to America then. Or we went to America 11:00. I saw the first the first bands although it was it was Wembley. And then that finished and America took over. Right. I don't I don't think they ran no in parallel so it was continuous in my life. Yeah yeah yeah yeah. And it was went for how long in Wembley. Eight hours or so. It's still. I remember being on side stage o'clock in the morning. I sort of think we went live probably at 9:00 in the morning. Yeah. No. It was then hours later. I I would have said 11 12. All right. May Day in day out. Yes. Yeah. Midday and then it ran through till about 9:00 in the evening. Right. And then Philadelphia to go. And it was continuous. Yes. Have you ever done this complex issue. No. Has anybody you no I'm prob ably never Willner but no. I mean and as I say you have to put it into the context of you know the was that there were no satellites. It was all done you know really in analog. You sort of you know what I mean. You know the things we take for granted these days about the Internet and you know press a button and to see herself. Oh yeah yeah. So must be pretty frantic back in the trucks. It was good to see what was going on. Yeah. We had a monitor we had a monitor of. I think we probably had a stage monitors so you could actually see what was going and you had obviously what was being transmitted on the telly. Oh yes on the telly. Yeah but you didn't see that until it was happening. No. But but then we would have had a stage monitor so that we could see when it was coming up where everything was. I mean you've got a rough idea a rough idea was playing.
SPEAKER: M2
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. So for example if there were a set of Congress lying around there might be manned in some numbers but no.
SPEAKER: M1
Well yes. I mean in a sense I. No no we had no we had no.
SPEAKER: M2
No you just took it and he just winged it. Yeah. Yeah. Right. It's remarkable yeah. Oh absolutely amazing. As I recorded what actually my wife recorded on the VHS and she dutifully recorded them all and I was amazed. Ok.
SPEAKER: M1
Yeah. There was the. Oh is it. Well it's Gob is. Yeah. I mean I mean but I. But I've. Or you see that's why I said I would never have suited me. This is you know my temperament it would never have suited me to be in a recording a proper commercial recording studio because I mean for me it was capturing the moment warts and all that you know for want of a better way of putting it you know.
SPEAKER: M2
Well in my experience and I did do a bit and recording studios was like watching paint dry put your houses and it's very repetitive you know. Okay. At the end of it. You play it back and if you're lucky and you liked the material. Yeah. Wow isn't that amazing. Yeah but the process is painfully slow. Yeah. And it's a psychological issues.
SPEAKER: M5
Yeah. Interesting. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M12
So no. No it was it was certainly the highlight of my career.
SPEAKER: M2
And then of course the the only how it was having persuaded Paul McCartney to come out of retirement and do one song which he really had to have his arm twisted because he wasn't living concerts he'd retire. And right off the Geldof begged him to come by. Yeah. Do. Hey Jude. Course he gets on stage and no one can hear him.
SPEAKER: M1
I know but that's just sods law. Yeah. That is just sods law and as I say I really don't know it was to do with the fact that three and as I said earlier three into two in terms of the mobile if we'd had three mobiles and thus I suspect it wasn't under the stage. I suspect it was in our plugging and we just got it wrong.
SPEAKER: M6
In fact I think I remember it.
SPEAKER: M2
It was when we put the plug back in and it's interesting because I just I've interviewed everybody all the life it from one person and nobody has ever had a go in anyway and the P.A. guys.
SPEAKER: M1
No I don't think it was you because that said that that's a stock in trade. That's what they do. You know what I mean right. No I think I think it was the root cause was the way it happens is we all we always share what we do now we always share we have what we call splitter boxes on the output of the microphone at the stage. And they do deliver to one goes off to the P.A. for the the arena and the other is our broadcasts feed. It's very unlikely that they got that wrong. It's much more unlikely that we had it plugged in the wrong hole. We had the lead vocal right plugged maybe from which was at that point being dismantled under the stage of the previous band. I honestly don't know. But you know at the time by the time we we got off well if I remember there was an after show party somewhere in Bond Street. So we weren't going to have an inquest and we wouldn't have had an inquest anyway you know because you know was it. That was it. But it would happen then wouldn't it.
SPEAKER: M2
Yeah yeah. It was still an amazing achievement. But of course you know you were there at the beginning of live rock concerts. You were working on some of the very early ones when it was new. I mean the idea of getting a rock band. Half an hour or an hour.
SPEAKER: M5
Oh it was it was yeah absolutely. I mean tell us something about that.
SPEAKER: M2
What was the mindset of radio producer in those days to put a show together. What were they.
SPEAKER: M1
Well but it was well I think. Well I mean I can really only speak with Jeff Griffin because well and grab it. That was a different gig anyway. Country meat. But really how we doing Davis have put another program together on the radio. Oh well a few features a bit of cooking. No. Well you know what I mean. And it would have been a success. Yeah. I was a totally different. I was a totally different concept. You know.
SPEAKER: M2
So they're doing divas of the world and Derek tanneries the idea of a rock concert guy. Nothing. It Right.
SPEAKER: M14
Absolutely. Well but last but sort of supposed by stealth.
SPEAKER: M1
I mean I obviously can't speak for Jeff you know because it was Jeff who battled away back in the day sort of before. Well I might have been a tape up but wasn't thinking about that I was thinking how lucky I'd be to be here watching you know deep purple with Tony Wilson mixing it kind of thing you know so. No no. It was Jeff but I mean it was prob but again as you said earlier it probably was largely driven by a chunk of non-legal time. You know I think I really do you know. And sessions or sessions was all grist of the mill. Yeah. I don't think there was anything that they really think that we must be broadcasting these. Absolutely no.
SPEAKER: M2
I think we were getting by default and in fact I don't think the British rock music industry knows how lucky it was because in America you didn't get on the radio unless you had a record. Yeah. The record yeah. Well how many of our acts had no deal at all. And if Bernie or if John Walters or John Peel on Jeff Griffin or Bob Harris decided you know what I think we should give these people a chance like T-Rex. MARK Yeah. Like music. Bryan Ferry like Queen. They got on the radio and then they got the record deal. So I said this too. And in typical BBC fashion I'm always kind of put down for being too expensive on this. But I think well what would have turned out if that you know things might have been a bit different.
SPEAKER: M1
Well absolutely. But I mean you know having read your book you know the whole premise of the book forgive me but is you know and it was because the BBC in a totally different environment adhered to what it was set up to do was to inform educate and entertain. And and it really did and it's really only I think there I mentioned the B word post Mr Burt that those and I you know and you know public service broadcasting in America it is got no say no row it's got no. Nobody has it there's no heritage.
SPEAKER: M2
No no. And when people play back in the archives know that they do they get the BBC led Zeppelin or The Jimi Hendrix or I don't think people realize just how much of that was done with the motivation of public self it wasn't self aggrandizement wasn't make a dollar it was public so it was it was ingrained in the culture of the BBC whether it was classical music and music concrete or whatever whatever whatever it was it was that this is what we do.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes but it wasn't worthy. Well certainly not the radio well if you know what I mean. It wasn't done. Oh we must we must disperse this amongst the masses. It wasn't like that.
SPEAKER: M2
But it was never recorded and looking at your career life music was a big thing. You started off in concerts then later on you were involved in things that live it and then later on in radio when you became head of music production and executive producer of Radio went in to live events. Give us a a better feel for what happened after life.
SPEAKER: M1
Well the first thing I got was I was executive producer of I took over from Teddy Warwick when Assad took over I didn't fill his boots by any stretch of the imagination but by then so I was really to be honest nightwatchman kind of thing. And and I all I did was manage producers like Griffin and talking about ideas and putting into the programme so that you know the planning meetings we had so I was just not to be honest I really think I was nightwatchman and then I became editor which meant I ran the playlist so the playlist I can't certainly when I joined as a producer the playlist was up and running and basically it was a weekly list of democratically voted records of that week that would be given high rotation and by high rotation I think it meant you got some that you're not necessarily guaranteed but you know planned you would get something like 15 plays a week across daytime radio if you got on a plane if you got on the playlists on various shows. Yes. And it started off by be ing only the producers who produced the that block of time and it was pretty democratic and they were quite vocal arguments and inevitably there were some people who were slightly more left wing for want of a better old revolutionary and who wanted and others who wanted just to go oh well you know whoever's got another record out we must put it on but it was it was an Doreen who was the chair the chair she she arbitrated. But by and large it was. But I mean I would say but bear in mind they oh oh can they never had anybody from as a as a bit of spice to put into it so they never invite you know the Jeff Griffins of this world all the Bernie Andrews of this world were never invited at all fourth floor people. Yes daytime regard people. Yeah. And that would have been a majority decision. Yeah. Oh yes yes yes. Of course are supposedly with rationalize that was simple yes. But the guys in the evening and mechanically what the hell they want which did it. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. So so that happened and then when I became editor and I I said Well I. And one of the things I think we missed out on and I hope the itself response and bailing was the the growth of dance music. I mean I'm skipping forward a lot now but it's all there about the same time. And I you know in the peak tongs with who clearly will certainly probably knew more about dance than we talking about hip hop and stuff. Well well yeah. Yes. Hip hop. What was before hip hop.
SPEAKER: M5
I don't know. But anyway.
SPEAKER: M1
But all I suggested which I tried to but it didn't really work. I have to say to have guessed producers or presenters from the other side and so they have them. They'll come in and we did we tried it but I think they they felt they were just you know pissing in the wind.
SPEAKER: M2
To be honest I could see some logic in that. I mean if you couldn't have a daytime ratings you know market share oriented you know celeb. Yeah you can. Those are the kind of people that need to be.
SPEAKER: M1
Yeah but what you really wanted was a bit of a tip on the cutting edge and what was coming up now. That's a danger that so that that's what I thought. But no it never really worked but it did. Well of course. So what you basically had if you'd taken a half hour segment of a daytime show you probably had her 8:00 we always because we didn't have commercials. You always aim to get eight records every half hour yes in eight threes or 24. Just very arbitrarily eight eight threes 24 eight kept the deejays from talking her hand and out of those eight five five would be playlist 3 2 would be old is on 1 would be a deejay choice possibly that would be your free for me but I think different producers.
SPEAKER: M2
That's how I used to sort of you know just in passing said to try and keep the deejays from talking too much. Was that a problem. You heard radio.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes I read. We're talking to people who've never. Well Dave Dave Lee Travis. Yeah. You know. Absolutely. I'm talking about stuff that didn't work. Will was not related to there.
SPEAKER: M14
I mean I'm I'm being slightly stereo typical here but you know be you know he'd talk about his farm in just ramble on and ramble on and talk about oh the cows got out.
SPEAKER: M1
So a you know the idea that somebody on the radio is talking to somebody who might have two ends up at the back if you're lucky you know it just didn't relate to the. You know I don't mean all right. There was only a few of those right or bad. But of course but then. But but that was his trademark watering. But you know what I mean. So no. But you tried to get. No I'm not saying it was it was rigorously applied but that was the form.
SPEAKER: M8
And if you if you you know and I'd you know I would sort of go down at the end of the show and say look I mean it you know it was it was too much too much. Yeah. But that that was that was just how many of the DS Do you think were really interested in the music and how much they were interested in themselves.
SPEAKER: M1
But that would vary with Paul Burnett was. Yes it would vary. Mike Reed was reading when he was on the data you know and I remember Andy Peeples was quite good as well. Yeah but he was always a reason or if he was a third floor. Yeah. But there was more of a tendency upstairs there to be advancing. Yeah. The worse as a personality the worse were Bates after Steve. Steve Right. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M4
To this day might read to a lesser. No not my dog. I'm trying to think who else. But that was all right. But that was good. Well he was funny. He is about the only D.J with a sense of humor as far as I could work out. Certainly on that down on Main Street. Yeah I know. They were there to promote themselves and not some their own voice.
SPEAKER: M2
And in terms of uh getting on the play list. How desperate were the record companies to get on the playlist.
SPEAKER: M1
Oh pretty you know depending on the artist you know we get swung both way is you know we wanted the big hitters and we wanted but no they were. And you know we used to get um oh so we're I'm looking for you know they they'd take that. I mean nothing that doesn't happen in industry you know they take us out for lunch. All right. I knew that too was wasn't any pay all out. Not in my name with my hand on my heart. Never and not in my experience and certainly in my ear there I would said I think I never.
SPEAKER: M2
My experience was more limited but I can back that up. I mean we did have people like John bustle and Janie Jones.
SPEAKER: M1
Well that was yeah. Radio to stand by the testimony. But was that radio. Yes it was. Yes it was very early. Yes. Yes sir.
SPEAKER: M2
To my knowledge although there was the image of graft and corruption in the record business and there may have been in some areas I don't think I know I witnessed any of that radio one.
SPEAKER: M1
No I I I I you know all I would say that there were you know well of course I mean you know we all got more vinyl we knew what to do. Well you know what to do with us where I got cut out. I'm not going down that road. But no I mean you know we did get it. And clearly you know it was there to be played and and and as I say you know Christmas you know we used to get quite generous Christmas presents.
SPEAKER: M2
But I mean that you know as far as I'm aware that's meaner than what I remember of what was stolen and as I say it was the bottle and thought and still. Oh yeah. It was about the extent of the people that I got.
SPEAKER: M1
Well yeah but I mean. Yes.
SPEAKER: M12
Well I don't think there was anything particularly more valuable in that you know round that nobody was.
SPEAKER: M11
Is was very nice. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M10
But did you on the other side of it did you get people getting very annoyed because they couldn't get their favorite record or do you know their current promotion on the on the radio.
SPEAKER: M1
No I don't really know. They took it. Yeah you know. And so they.
SPEAKER: M2
The relationships between the producers and the promotion case was really quite a corporate cooperative.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes. Because of course we go to them and you know there might be a little bit of I don't remember doing this myself but I wouldn't be surprised you know that might be if a producer had a good relationship with one particular Plugger you know and he'd say Well you know I'd really like you know we'll do good value for something that was we'd like the first player you know do things like I was yeah. Yes but that and that was sort of in you know in tonight's CNN show. But no I don't I don't really remember anything and of course it was a two way street. Occasionally you'd want somebody to appear on your show. Yes. All of that. Yes. Yes. It was a trade. Yeah it was a trade. But yeah yeah. Anything else to say about that. No I mean size I would say. Yeah. So as I say I did that. And then when Roger Lewis left. Well John but can we just talk a little bit about John's. So you know I by the time John Bert arrived but I really think you know he did more damage to the BBC as a public service br oadcaster by imposing on the BBC a business template in what was a creative public service broadcasting. And I could go because I knew I knew my card was marked if only in my own mind if not in his but probably almost certainly in his as well. And I went through it.
SPEAKER: M4
There was a meeting called in radio in the council chamber and all of radio with some heavyweights I was sitting next to the control then control of radio three very long. John Drummond nice guy. And you just happened to be sitting next to me you see Bert his ex bounding his vision and a future suddenly you see and at the end and I was quite wet behind the ears of as I headed production you know. And he said any questions from the floor. I thought well I better make them up. Put my hand up so I put my hand up you said yes Chris fucking knows my name.
SPEAKER: M5
That's the start of it.
SPEAKER: M1
And I said oh John Fund what you had to say. Very interesting. It did. But I did notice that you mentioned change several times in your presentation. Can you give us any idea how long this period of change I pay. I promise you Bill.
SPEAKER: M2
There was a gap that just seemed to go like that you know extend an extended US and eventually he very withering he looked at me and said for ever Chris ever.
SPEAKER: M1
But I mean that was that. But I mean for me and given my background I found and I can remember. I remember Mandy Sol Boney. No no. She was sort of like a admin assistant and she was I. I think I had a guy called Mike Hughes who was my finance person and I can remember. And it was all total costing and it was always great vision where you you you cascaded. Another good word you cascaded down to the production teams you know the you know the purchase power for whatever service you were talking and it just took the heart you know. I'm not saying that the BBC was profligate but it was a sledgehammer to cut certainly in radio. I can't really speak for television but in radio it was a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.
SPEAKER: M2
But even in that context you look at the BBC as it was and we all saw the faults and wars how much to improve with John but not at all. So it wasn't even a sledgehammer to crack it.
SPEAKER: M1
No doubt. Yeah. But I mean you know a I don't know Bill but I I I you know I really do and it's not just sour grapes because I've. And I just thought that went on.
SPEAKER: M2
I don't know if I understand you Larry let's put that one in context. You say sour grapes of course it's not because you've just said you felt lucky to be where you were when you were. It's not like you've got some bitter memories of what wasn't. You've got great memories. What was. Yeah. So yeah sure you're not concerned.
SPEAKER: M1
Oh and I can remember because of course that it was my role to sell this to the production team right. And I can remember on one and I I was privy to what was going to be floated in terms of and the the classic one and I was but I was trying to do my management job of you know encouraging the people to buy into this you see in the produce I can remember in 3 0 6 in acting and I was sort of going through say well it will it will give you spending power and it will give you a chance to decide where your programme. I said. And I said you know and the programme budgets will be increased you know because there's good to come out of your budget rather than just the deejay and whatever else came out of it you know and. And somebody piped up and said Oh Crystal is it true that you know every time we get a record out of program library we are going to there's gonna be a charge now. All right. The radio one didn't use the library a huge amount because it got the records it played. But certainl y the space you get from the bloggers. But you know in the specialist area not the case and so on so forth there were lots of times where you enter the library and that it's going to cost thirteen quid every time we withdraw a record out of library and I tap dance and I said well yes well you will have a cost free. And I I haven't heard the figure thirteen quid in fact I don't think that's been decided yet. But I don't I imagine it might not be far off that I was tapped on that and some hope for and the guy who ran ran the record library at that time was a guy. Dave Price I mentioned before. Right. He'd gone into every god you know finance.
SPEAKER: M5
Oh I don't know. Anyway some wag at the back said fuck me. Our price. Sorry. Our price to be cheaper than Dave Price. I we could go. We could go down the road. Fire. Yeah. And I.
SPEAKER: M1
And that that was the most the unhappiest period of my life. All of that and I felt totally out of kilter. And then I decided and I knew that what I really wanted to do was get back to my roots and put racket depends on stages if automation. And that's when I and I was surprised because I thought well and it was it was a talent. So I went from from being head down to executive producer again.
SPEAKER: M6
Well it's gonna have an impact on my salary. And it didn't. Um.
SPEAKER: M8
And uh I don't suppose it's appropriate for me to talk about that. But no. Why not.
SPEAKER: M5
Well I don't know really. I mean. Well actually let me just say something.
SPEAKER: M2
Let's talk or not talk about specifics. I once heard you say that the worst thing I ever did was to zero the you know to cancel the grading system and the BBC me. Yeah. The context I'm thinking about is you know catty graces on the television complaining that she's not getting paid.
SPEAKER: M5
Oh I know. Me. Yeah. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M2
Okay. We always had freelancers and so on. But it was much more stratified and at its drawbacks but also had its benefits. People did know more about where they stood what they were entitled to.
SPEAKER: M1
Oh yes. Yeah. Oh it it was. Yeah. And you moved up the ladder and you got you know you got the recognition of that. I don't ever remember. Yeah. Maybe I got that maybe somebody else. I I don't think I know as I say. All I know was I went in to see my personal officer when I'd met and he. He. You know. And I was still you know a. Bit cautious about that. See I knew for me it was the right thing to do. Yeah. And he started off at the meeting with Jesus. I think it's a really brave thing to do. You know nothing. Okay. Yeah but hold on a minute. The crunch is going to come and it never did. I can't quite work out how I had such a good time for 99 percent of my career in the babe and how I got where I did. I mean the really memorable things obviously line that we've talked about but there were other initiatives like sound city. Now that was something I was when I was executive producer. You know that I started up the idea of going around the country because we always had this thing about. We must be not metropolitan we must you know. And it was a touring live music show that went to various places like I remember Newcastle and what we did was we brought to Newcastle one big headline artist which you obviously headlined national event national. Yeah. And then supported them with local talent. So it was ticking boxes and we did quite a. We did Belfast we did Liverpool we did Newcastle I remember we did we Oxford Oxford. My son reminded me of this last night. You know police did their first broadcast live broadcast gig at Brooks University in Oxford. So you know we did but they were headliners. By that time because they they. But so for me that just ticked the boxes of you know public service broadcasting networth. We did the silver Clef awards. That's when I had a big row with them. TONY SMITH Phil Collins is manager. And anyway but it was all about right up because I always insisted that we would never take the front of house sound right the P.A. feed because no that 's not what we're about in any way to pay feed. This makes quite rightly by people who knew the band better but in a auditorium situation and I gone in and who else did we have on a silver clap.
SPEAKER: M6
But we had some really big hitters and on the day they ganged up against me and they said the only one I gave it.
SPEAKER: M1
This isn't gonna work because I can't remember the names I'd have to look back but you know I mean that was that was for me the real highlights yes of course I did the show. That was all part of the warp and weft Sarajevo. I took you to and they broadcast from Saturday that once the war was over. And from a you know that was just and again the audience was the first big concert that they'd had for years and years and years and just again just the sheer joy joy and so stuff like that really. I mean certainly there were there were more good landmark things Walter than I going to the hurt under the flag of wolves as weekly to do the Venice Biennale a you know. And again you know we got big hitters there big people in the arts world to interview that. And I think it was that that just before the birth period just before I became head I guess to be honest you know and the freedom you had in there and the resources you had and I mean in my view.
SPEAKER: M7
No no.
SPEAKER: M4
Certainly in radio you know the quality of outside broadcast and the studio guys you know absolutely brilliant. And it was just a pleasure to have a career. And I'm quite surprised. I've got to the end of it without been fired. But hey.