The cast

Oral histories



- self-indulgence in the studio

Steve Jones:
We got this band Hunt, Lunt & Cunningham going in '69 and we were still going in '72 when I joined Radio 1. We made one single called 'Meanwhile Back in the Forest', on the Pye label, produced by Peter Meadon who'd produced the first ever Who record. He worked for a guy called Tony Hall, who made the big mistake of sending us off with Peter Meadon to Wales to Dave Edmunds' studio at Rockfield. So we went down with a mate of ours who was roped in be to be chef and joint-roller for the weekend. And we just sat around and ate a lot of roast beef, drank a lot of Guinness and smoked an awful lot of dope and we were there for two days.
We went back to Tony Hall in London, who said, 'Let's hear the single then,' and we said, 'Well we haven't got the single, but we've got this great album track.' And we had; we'd added mellotron and strings and trumpets and all that stuff, and we thought we were making 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. It was a great track: it was seven and a half minutes long. And Tony, who'd funded all this stuff, said, 'It's absolutely wonderful, and it won't sell one fucking copy.'
So the following day he dragged us all down to the Roundhouse studio with Bill Shepherd and we knocked out the single in an hour and a half, having spent two and a half days in Wales, spending thousands of pounds doing this track that got nowhere. We did a complete Rollers thing: he said we had to do it quick, so Bill Shepherd arranged it, all these session guys did the backing track - it took them twenty minutes - and we did the voices.

Ron Roker:
The big enigma was these supergroups were in the studio for months recording - of course they were, because they were writing in there. That was so unprofessional. And the companies backed it, gave the groups carte blanche in the studio. So you've got to pay them, and the session musicians that turn up to play the strings and brass and whatever around it - and the group went in there with maybe two sketchy songs to do an album. That's where a lot of the money was wasted, and that rubbed off and was reflected in the job the singles market had to do. So we had to be professional. We had to tick over so fast.

Mike Moran:
Some of the heavy rock groups - like Zeppelin or Deep Purple - they would do their writing in the studio. They'd rent someplace and they'd all live the rock & roll lifestyle to the hilt and write the songs in the studio. The difference was with the more commercial stuff, they would tend to be pre-written songs with an arrangement already done. Or you would get guys like me and Barry Morgan, Herbie Flowers, Chris Spedding - all those people who were around as studio-players - and the guy would say: 'Here's a chord chart, we want it to sound like Leon Russell or Jerry Lee Lewis.' And it's easy to do, to be honest.

Ron Roker:
The finances of making a record meant that for a pop record you needed to make it in three hours. You'd have three songs in that session: one was the a-side, one was the b-side, the other was a possible a-side. And a lot of our music was made in those sessions with the same guys because you knew what you were going to get: you could put any dots in front of them. Record companies went to you because you produced singles for x amount in the time that they wanted it. The economics and the speed with which you could get the end-product out with the sound they wanted was a part of the writing and production.

these words were brought to you by
Steve Jones
Mike Moran
Ron Roker

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