Joe Meek was an innovative record producer in the United Kingdom in the 50's and 60's.
He was born Robert Meek in 1929. He came out of his national service as a radar technician, then worked as a TV engineer before becoming an engineer with one of the two independent recording studios in London in the mid-50's, IBC Studios. He engineered recording artists for some of the UK labels of that time and then went to work for the independent record producer Landsdowne. It was here that Joe worked on some of the early hits for Lonnie Donegan. He designed a new studio for Landsdowne and began to write songs.
Joe then decided to go out on his own. He found a location above a shop in North London, built an improvised studio there, and started his own label which he called Triumph. Although he recorded songs in a converted living room/bathroom on used equipment, he managed to put several songs in the top ten in the UK in the early 60's. Joe used The Outlaws and The Tornadoes as house bands.
Introverted and intense, he used whatever was at hand to come up with a sound that was different than what others had done before him. A tape would be run backwards, or the sound of a flushing toilet would be enhanced, in order to get a unique sound. He was also a great admirer of American rock-and-roll legend Buddy Holly, and produced a Buddy Holly tribute record in 1961. The Tornadoes, primarily a backup band, had a number one hit in the United States and the United Kingdom with their instrumental Telstar in 1962. Joe Meek also produced The Honeycombs and their top ten song from 1964, Have I The Right?
As time passed, his studio set-up became inadequate but he did not move on to anything better, as he probably should have. The Beatles became prominent on the rock-and-roll scene as the 60's wore on, and other British record producers who were more in tune with the times, such as Mickie Most and Andrew Loog Oldham, began to pass him by. Joe is remembered to this day as a brilliant innovator.
On February 3, 1967, eight years to the day after the tragic death of Buddy Holly, Joe Meek committed suicide.
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