London People

London. Capital City. ‘The Toppermost of the Poppermost’ in all things to do with the music business—whether a recording artist, song composer, record producer, or music publisher. And Denmark Street—at the north-end of Charing Cross Road—on the borders of Soho—was the place where songs were composed, bought, sold, published, and plugged. The ‘Big Four’ record companies—Philips | Pye | Decca | EMI—all had head offices in London—as did everyone else with a dream of getting a disc into the UK Pop Charts—everyone hoping and praying for that all-elusive ‘No. 1 Hit’.

George Martin -
The Beatles' record producer

1926-2016.  Parlophone/EMI—record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician.

    Unique, in terms of both the Times and Place—stuffy, stilted, stultifying England in the early 1960s—he had the flexibility, imagination, wit and skill—importantly ‘the ears’—to produce, as well as introduce The Beatles and their music to the world. 

    He left EMI in 1965 but continued as a freelance—in great demand by other artists. Unavailable for most of The Beatles (White Album) and Let It Be albums. He scored the Yellow Submarine soundtrack and produced the band's final album, Abbey Road.

    It’s hard to imagine The Beatles’ recording career being the success it was—or happening at all—in the hands of someone else. In 1996 he was knighted for his services to the music industry and popular culture. 

Dick James -
The Beatles’ music publisher

1920–1986. Recording artist and music publisher.

    Dick James was a 1950s pop-singer of such UK hits as Robin Hood (TV theme) and The Ballad of Davy Crockett. Later set up as a music publisher. Recommended to Brian Epstein, by George Martin. James secured a spot for The Beatles on ITV’s prestigious TV pop show Thank Your Lucky Stars. As their music publisher, he set up Northern Songs. John Lennon always regarded him as ‘one of the men in suits’. He became a multi-millionaire when he sold Northern Songs to Sir Lew Grade (ATV) without giving The Beatles a chance to buy the rights to their own songs. 

Norman Smith -
The Beatles’ original recording engineer

1923-2008. Parlophone/EMI–recording engineer, record producer, musician, song composer, and recording artist.

    The Beatles’ original recording engineer at EMI’s Abbey Road studios. From their ‘Artists Test’ in 1962 and all the way through the group's albums and singles releases—from their first album Please Please Me to the 1965 release of Rubber Soul—almost 100 Beatles songs in total.

    Nicknamed “Normal” by John Lennon.

    Promoted to EMI’s A&R department in 1966—when he took over from George Martin as the head of Parlophone.

    He went on to produce important albums for Pink Floyd—The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, Ummagummaand The Pretty Things—S.F. Sorrow. And was a recording artist in the early 1970s—under the alias “Hurricane Smith”—scoring a #1 US Hit with 'Oh Babe, What Would You Say?' 

 

Dick Rowe -
The man who turned down The Beatles

1921–1986. Decca Records. Recording and A&R manager.

    Dick Rowe. Forever known as ‘The Man Who Turned Down The Beatles.’ Though the other major recording companies did, too, and some more than once. At least Decca auditioned The Beatles—then gave the audition tapes to Brian Epstein. Some also say it was Mike Smith, the recording engineer who oversaw The Beatles’ ill-fated session, that made the final decision and signed Brian Poole and The Tremeloes, instead. The Beatles bore no grudge. George Harrison later suggested to Rowe that he should sign The Rolling Stones, which he did—very quickly. 

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