UK STUDIO STORIES. DECCA. PHILLIPS. EMI. PYE.  2 I's COFFEE BAR. MORETTI'S ORIGINAL STORIES. PICTURES

                      

 

                                                      

                                   Moretti / Abbey Road  Nov. 2003
                                  

                                     

Moretti at what used to be the mighty DECCA Studios.  Broadhurst Gardens London  NW1.  Oct. 2003.  Not even a Plaque folks. Nothing to show it ever existed. Bloody Disgrace.   (c) joemoretti. 

 Decca Recording Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, London.

Take the Metro to West Hampstead Station, turn left as You exit, walk two hundred yards, and the 1'st street on your left is Broadhurst Gardens. On the corner stands the "Railway Tavern' a nice pub where I saw Jose Feliciano. I also did a gig there with Graham Bond, Ginger Baker,and Jack Bruce, Ginger & Jack going on to form " Cream " with Eric Clapton, when Graham disbanded. I also had a beer and a game of darts in therewith Tom Jones during a break in the recording of " It's not Unusual" but I'll come back to that later. Next door to the Pub is the old "Decca" premises. It has three or four steps leading up to a couple of swing doors, go through and facing You is another door with a couple of windows. Look in and you will see----------- A Furniture factory. Well. that's what it looked like when I last saw it in 1995. Poor "Decca". Where once there had been microphones, control rooms, amplifiers,artists, Engineers, producers, musicians, music, talk, laughter, Now there was silence,sawdust, the smell of polish, and one lonely figure screwing a door to a cupboard. It was a shock to me. I had thought that it would still be there in it's original state, still turning out hit after hit ad infinitum. "The factory" We used to call it. And for a time that's just what it was, a music factory. Mind You a great many studios shared that distinction.My first recording session for Decca was in 1964 and over the next decade I worked there literally hundreds of times. Tom Jones, MarianneFaithful, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Englebert, Mickey Most, These were the People a session musician would work with at Decca, and,of course,a host of other names. The main Man there was a guy called Dick Rowe. He and Decca went down in the History books for turning "The Beatles" down, but redeemed themselves later by signing "The Stones." Ah, The Million Dollar fun and games that went on.

                                     

But let me say something here in defence of Dick Rowe and Decca. There were many in the business who thought it a big joke, and were quite nasty and detrimental about both the man and the Recording company. In all truthfulness I think it could have happened to anyone. Bands were swamping the studios with demos. I heard the Beatles "Live" on two occasions in their very early days around the time when 'Love Me Do" was just breaking. I must be honest and say that under the circumstances in which they played I couldn't hear much of the potential that would eventually lead to that mind blowing greatness that they achieved. The 1'st time was at an early promotion gig at a hotel in Park Lane. I was in the House band backing some artists, playing music for dancing etc. And the Beatles came on and did something like a 30 minute spot. Well the place was full. Tables,chairs,waiters,and lots of Show biz people.The Beatles were using very powerful amps.The floor was carpeted and it was one of those rooms where you got no response.The point I'm making is that the guys didn't sound GREAT. and it wasn't their fault. Any attempt at turning up the volume and giving it one was hopeless. It was a "dead" room acoustically.It just wasn't fair to make ANY kind of judgement about their performance. The next time I heard them was at a "New musical Express" Awards concert at Wembley Stadium. Now the band could open up because of the size of the place. And the thing that really made me stop in my tracks was Paul McCartney singing "Good Golly Miss Molly." He had that sound DOWN. And the feel. And He was playing bass at the same time. The Real Little Richard thing.That little cascade of notes at the end of a word. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. But I still had no idea that they were going to be Gigantic. Hey, I'm a great Beatles fan, I love Paul McCartney's music. I have tremendous respect for Him. But when Decca "turned down the Beatles" it wasn't four Superstars they were talking to, it was a raw young group of Guys looking for a break. And HUNDREDS of bands have been turned down by ALL recording companies, time after time, until they " Clicked.'' Every Producer in the business could relate a story to You about "The one that got away " Get Real. Dick Rowe was an Extremely astute businessman and he had an ear for talent. Hundreds of hits have come from this Gentleman. He worked with the best in the Business. In every department. Musicians, Arrangers, M.D's. Engineers,Artists. And Dick had a great talent. He let everyone do their job. He had the best so why not let them get on with it ? Dick would make suggestions of course and they were always pertinent, but He never "interfered." He knew what the end result should be, and like a "wise" conductor in an Orchestra, He let the band play. And He was a very nice, respectful Guy. As I associate George Martin with EMI studios, I associate Les Reed with Decca. One is Generally a musican, an arranger, a composer, a musical director . Les Reed is all of these wrapped up into one. Les's sessions were always easy to play because He knew what He wanted, and his songs and arrangements always had "Substance." There was some meat to it. Listen to 'It's Not Unusual" - The arrangement is a winner, Tom Jones sings his Ass off, The band plays with great precision and the groove is "Tight but Loose." That was a winning record from the off. And other record companiesproducers and Artists had turned the song down ! But Decca took it on and turned it into one of the biggest hits of all time. See what I mean ? Check out Les Reed's site at http://www.lesreed.com and see for Yourself His achievements. Hit after hit after hit, and he was awarded an O.B.E. The discography section gives You a list of the hits. I haven't got the space here to do so. And let me tell You, Les was a sweetheart to work with. Like so many "Real" talented people, He was one of the Guys. I think that's the biggest compliment I can pay Him. There was a big Studio at the rear entrance to Decca, I think it was studio 1, and it was host to many of today's big Artists. Some very strange things went on there too.Musically, I mean. Please read on it's worth it ! I turned up there one afternoon and there were 25 guitarists on the session.Jumbo guitars, Cello guitars, acoustics, electrics, 12 strings. also there were 2 six string bass guitars, 4 four string bass guitars, 3 grand pianos, 2 upright basses, 1 french horn, two drummers and a percussionist !! No Shit. We were recording the " Poet and Peasant overture " a large orchestral work. Complex and very difficult to read. The guitars were split into sections like strings usually are. So many 1'sts, 2'nds, etc. When the guys on the 1'st desk saw the parts there was mass evacuation. Not that the 2'nds or 3'rds were any easier. And when we played ? Madness ! Wrong notes ? why we were playing different bars, different pages. And there not enough inputs to handle all the guitars individually. So we had two electric guitars per amp. Two acoustic per microphone, and 25 very nervous guitar players. Jimmy Page, John McLaughlin, Jim Sullivan, Vic Flick, Brian Daly, Eric Ford, every known guitar player in the business, and many unknowns that the "Fixer " had phoned just to get the required number. So , we did about 10 runthroughs and went for a "Take" After the take We all trouped through to the control room for the playback. The desk couldn't handle it. It sounded like two guitars playing. And it probably was. It was shocking ! We spent the rest of that 3 hour session trying to get it right. We ended up doing it in pieces, say 4 or 8 bar setions at a time. The next week I went back to Decca and we overdubbed more guitars, bass guitars, and even put a couple of mandolins down on that same track.… Later I heard that the track was put in the bin…. what a shame. It would have been wonderful if it had been released. And it would have sold a TRILLION copies with all those "Star" names on it. It would also have put a lot of laughter into our lives ! By the way, John Paul Jones was one of the Bass Guitarists. The Producer was Dick Rowe and the M.D was Mike Leander. Another notable session for Me was when I did "It's Not Unusual" with Tom Jones at that same studio.. The session was from 7- 10pm at the big studio/ Decca.. The Producer was Peter Sullivan of "Shakin' all Over " fame, and the M.D was Les Reed. And I had that beer and a game of darts in the "Railway Tavern " with a big skinny guy cutting his first record. Tom Jones. A Real Sweetheart. Everyone knows the guy has a Great voice but do you know one of the nicest things about Tom ? He was one of the Boys. And he stayed that way even when He became a Mega Star. So now I wax Lyrical. The picture fades, the music dies away. All those loved and familar faces I once knew, Some gone, some still with us, like yellowing pictures in my mind, and I'm looking once again through the window at "Decca ", and that same guy is still screwing the door to the wardrobe.Ahh, the Bitter Sweetness of it.

9July 2001……Joe Moretti


                                   

                      

Moretti at what used to be the mighty PYE Studios.  Marble Arch  London  . Oct. 2003.  Not even a Plaque folks. Nothing to show it ever existed. Bloody Disgrace. photo(c) joemoretti.

 Pye Studios, Bryanston St. Marble Arch London.

Come out of the metro. at Marble Arch, turn right into Edgeware Rd, walk 100 yards, and there's Bryanston St. The last time I saw the premises for Pye studios was in 1998, and it had a sign saying "Casino" above the door. I didn't stop to investigate, I was on a bus travelling to Paddington Station to catch a train, and I saw it from the window as we passed. But it was enough to awaken the memories I have of the many artists I worked with there. Francoise Hardy, Petula Clarke, Buddy Greco, Keely Smith, Don Everly, Trini Lopez, Richard Harris, the list again is endless. And let me give you a little list of some of the Musicians who were working in the "Session Business". On guitars alone we had Jimmy Page, John McLaughlin, Big Jim Sullivan, Vic Flick { Vic was that famous guitar on the theme for the "James Bond Movies} Eric Ford, Brian Daly, Martin Kershaw { Guitarist for the "Muppets' Show } and many other fine guitarists. You would find one or more of these guys together on any given day. And John Paul Jones might be on bass guitar. Or Brian Odges of John McLaughlin's "Extrapolation" fame. The main Man at Pye was Tony Hatch. he was an excellent Arranger/ MD/Producer and He and his wife, Jackie Trent, were responsible for many hits at Pye, including those of Petula Clarke. A man who started as Tony's assistant and later rose to great heights in the business was Johnny Harris. He went on to compose for films and at one time He was MD to Sammy Davis Jr. He was also Paul Anka's MD,and I worked with both on an LP called "Jubilation' which sold around 4.5 million copies,mainly in the USA. I heard later that Paul Anka opened a Club / Restaurant and called it "Jubilation" after the LP "Jubilation." Like EMI and Decca, Pye had the best in Recording facilities,Engineers, etc, and I was on the Session the night they They hooked up two eight track machines, in separate studios, and ran them in synch to produce the first 16 track recording in the U.K. - a revolution in it's time. Another 1'st for Pye was when they established the "Top Six " label. They would take the top six titles from the charts every month, and copy them as near as as dammit. Three titles on each side of an E.P 45 and out on to the market. but Fast ! So on a record You would have bloody good copies of current Hits by "The Stones, The Hollies, Sandy Shaw etc. six for the same price as one. and competing with the originals ! In very few instances are copies better than originals, but a large section of the public couldn't tell the difference or didn't care anyway. And "Top Six " records sold in their thousands. Sometimes We made it into the lower end of the charts. and this was 1965/66. So back on the bus, I'm looking out of the window at what used to be "Pye" studios. "Casino" it says above the door. Next time I'm in London I'm going to video the places where "Decca " and " Pye" etc used to be and save it for Posterity. The original sites of these Recording Companies, and others, are as much a part of Britains Rich Artistic heritage as the Tate Gallery, or the house where Paul McCartney was raised.    (c)  July 2001.… Joe Moretti


 

    

 

Moretti at what used to be the mighty PHILIPS Studios. Marble Arch, London  .  Oct. 2003.  Not even a Plaque folks. Nothing to show it ever existed. Bloody Disgrace. photo(c) joemoretti.

 

  Rick Hardy (r) with friend at plaque dediction at the 2 I's . PHOTO (C) RICK HARDY

RICK HARDY HAS DONE MORE THAN ANYONE I CAN THINK OF TO KEEP THE MEMORY OF THE 2' I's ALIVE.   HIS NAME SHOULD BE UP THERE ON THAT PLAQUE.

Well, I first saw it in 1958. My wife Pina and I arrived in London in November 1958 on a Sunday morning .We had travelled on the overnight bus from Glasgow, Scotland, and we had with us the grand sum of eleven pounds sterling in cash, two suitcases containingour clothes, and a couple of pots & pans, knives & forks etc. to set up home. We found a bed & breakfast place and settled in for a couple of nights. I had seen Cliff Richard and the Drifters [ as they were called then ] on TV back in Glasgow, and I knew that they had been discovered in the 2 I's, as had Tommy Steele. So on the Monday evening around 6 pm, I caught the Metro to Piccadilly Circus, leaving my wife at the Hotel to protect our suitcases. You come out of the Metro at Piccadilly, walk up Shaftesbury Avenue, turn LEFT into Wardour St. then 1'st right into Old Compton St . and it's the 2'nd shop on the right. That's it ! Or, rather, that's where it used to be. In 1958 the 2 I's was the fuse for the explosion that was to come in the World of U.K Rock and Roll. Before Cliff there was a major happening in music called "Skiffle", and there were various Skiffle bands, some of them having hits in the charts, like the great Lonnie Donegan, The Vipers, Chas Mc Devitt and Nancy Whiskey etc.  A lot of these Guys still featured in coffee bars around Soho, so although the 2 I's mainly featured Rock, there were other influences in there. Country, Blues, Jazz, Skiffle, it was a melting pot for musicians and their music. And the influences were many and varied. HUNDREDS of Young men and Women, from towns all over the U.K . headed for London . They were all looking for the same thing - somewhere they could express themselves. And the only way they could do that was by singing and playing the Music they loved and felt - Rock and Roll. When I walked into the 2 I's with my Guitar I didn't know a soul. The Guys were knocking the Shit out of the Music. Loud , ass-kicking music, most of it built around 3 chords only, so anyone could have a go.

                              

THAT was the magic, all You had to do was mean it. And it was all Live. No backing tracks. And if You couldn't crack it then get the fuck off the stage. The 2 I's gave You the chance to strut your stuff and earn some money to eat at the same time. Tell me how many places can say the same thing today. The I's was owned by a nice guy called Paul Lincoln, A wrestler by profession and a promoter of the same,But He loved running a coffee bar and R& R was booming so it was also an extremely lucrative business. Anyway,I asked the guy on the door, A gent calledTom Littlewood, if I could play and he said ok. Well I was pretty desperate, turned up the volume on the club amplifier and went for it. Like I say, You didn't have to be Stravinsky. I had a ball for the next 45 minutes or so. The guys swung hard and natural. No pretence, Just good & honest Rock & Roll. Then it sinks into my Nut . The People enjoy what I'm doing, there's just a chance I'm going to make it in London. And all the kids are playing their asses off and hoping the same thing. When I come off stage a guy called Freddy Clifford asks me to have a cup of coffee with him and a chat. It turns out He is Colin Hick's manager { Colin Hick's is Tommy Steele's brother } and he offers me a tour with Colin straight away. And He even gives me some money up front . I've cracked a deal on my 1'st night ! And so it was for many of the guys at the 2 I's Marty Wilde got his guys from there. So did Vince Taylor, as You know.Adam Faith, Joe Brown, Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Tony Meehan, Jet Harris, Big Jim Sullivan,Bobby Woodman,Tony Harvey plus many, many more.

                                                          

And that's where I first saw Gene Vincent. I couldn't believe it ! Gene Vincent from the movie " The Girl can't help it " The guy who was up there on the silver screen with Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, etc- there -singing in the 2 I's. I never dreamed that one day I'd be working with Him on television and touring the U.K. Someone said { I think it was Anita O'Day } " If I had known it was going to be an Era I'd have tried harder !!" That's the truth about the 2 I's and the whole Rock and Roll thing. Perhaps somewhere in the back of our minds We hoped we would make it but we lived for the Moment. THAT's what made it tick. Even Connie Francis wanted to see the I's when she came to the U.K. The Name and the fame of the place was already filtering back to the U.S of A. Every one has heard of the I's, >From John Lennon to David Bowie. All the Great Rockers acknowledge the contribution the 2 I's made to Rock & Roll. And it was just a little cafe with an old battered piano in the basement in Old Compton street, Soho. But it had a Soul and a buzz that You couldn't find anywhere else. ……Those two guys I mentioned, Paul Lincoln and Tom Littlewood both deserve a mention in the R&R archives,. Tom Littlewood was the guy who took the money at the door. He was also Vince Taylor's manager for a while. Tom was best known for being a Judo instructor, that's why He was on the door. If You get a chance to see the movie - "The Tommy Steele Story " You can see Tom teaching Judo in a short sequence. Paul Lincoln, as I've said, was a wrestler by profession and also promoted wrestling bouts. Here's a funny story. Vince & the band were hired to a gig at a wrestling match and between bouts We went up & did our gig in the Ring, for about half an Hour or so. On the bill that night was a wrestler called" Dr. Death." And Dr. Death's big feature was thatHe wore a Black leather hood. He was a terrifying site. After Dr.Death's bout He came down the corridor leading to the dressing rooms,still wearing his mask, passing the guys in the band on the way. He let out some terrible roars and made to grab us one by one. We were scared out of our wits and we literally ran away. Imagine our faces when we found out that Dr Death was actually Paul Lincoln wearing a mask. Oooh ......Paul had that scene down.

                                                            

                                                           Tommy Steele

 He promoted the wrestling match, appeared on the bill as Paul Lincoln, had a rest between bouts, and appeared again as Dr. Death !! Nice work if You can get it . But He really was a sweet guy and stood as guarantor for me when I bought a new amp on H.P. { a "Vox A.C. 30. } They had just appeared on the scene. So between Paul, his partner Ray, who was also a wrestler, and Tom with his Judo, nobody fucked us around. Sudden death for anybody who tried. Before Jet Harris made it with Cliff, He used to clean up the 2 I's after the gigs, sweeping the floor and stuff. No shame in that, I've done it myself . One was at least honestly employed and could eat every day. The fee for a night's gig at the 2 I's was 18 shillings a night, from around 6-30/ 7 pm till say 11/11-30pm. Because I was married I got a bit extra - One pound a night plus a bottle of milk and the occasional packet of margarine and a loaf of bread. And boy was I grateful.!! "HEY OASIS ! DID YOU HEAR THAT ?" No fucking backing tracks and 20,000 bucks a night. Let Me tell You something. If bands like Oasis had walked into the 2 I's. they would have had their Asses kicked right out the fucking door after their first number, if they managed to get that far. And if any of our guys had put other Musicians down the way they have, with their attitude and Liam Gallagher's body language, they wouldn't have lived to see their next Birthday. These guys are always telling other Musos. what they think of them, So let me put them straight as to their musical ability-- You don't have any. Zilch. You are fucking Rotten. The only way You made it was by 100 percent Hype, and stealing old Beatles ideas. But badly !! The 2 I's would never have tolerated talentless pricks such as You !! My cat plays better than You do. But, I digress. Ahh, the 2 I's - I don't think We'll ever see a place like it again. I just wish someone would re-open it and invite everybody back again. With the right publicity it would make a fortune. Someone really should make a Movie about it. But for now lets live the Lovely memory that it is. If I close my eyes and listen hard I can hear the ghosts of those Who are long gone. British Rock & Roll owes a debt of Gratitude to the place. She really is a sweet old Lady who's been abandoned. but she still lives on in our memories. And perhaps that's as it should be.No use looking back at what used to be. Got to keep looking forward, using that heritage for inspiration. As for Me - Well, through this Web Page I hope I have given a little bit of a picture to others as to what it was like. It also gives me the opportunity to say thanks to all of my brother musicians who worked there, Those who are still with us and those who have moved on to the big 2 I's in the Sky. Dear 2 I's Thank you so much and God Bless Your Memory -

 Joe Moretti……May 18th 2000 (C) 


 

    

       

 

 

                                                                                

 

                                                                                                                                  

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