Friday, December 12, 2008

Joe Meek

The inspiration for playing of this collection of Joe Meek curiosities (lala) came from opposing directions: the reverb-tastic Excello records juke joint jive I was listening to yesterday while researching an article got me thinking about studios and sound, and that road invariably leads to Joe Meek and how he gave surf rock its liftoff velocity - The Tornado's "Telstar" in particular. The other was this post at the WFMU blog about demystifying the death of Beatles-lore figure Rory Storm (Ringo was the drummer for Rory Storm and His Hurricanes before being recruited by the Beatles) . The post contained this aside
but death-rock legends are legion, and the circumstances so often so lurid -- backstage Russian Roulette, plane crashes, murder-by-fan, on-stage electrocution, getting hit by a bus, on-stage murder-by-fan, infanticide, mariticide, murder-by-fan-club-president, Joe Meek --

leading to the story how Meek confiscated a shotgun from The Tornados' bassist and in the depths of depression (edited from the original, see comments) , killed his landlady and then himself. Sad. I have to wonder: is there something about the dogged pursuit of a sound that led to this collapse of reality, or those of Sly Stone, Axl Rose, or Phil Spector? I suppose I need to track down and read that The Legendary Joe Meek book now.

Musings about the tragedies of a man at the edge aside, his sci-fi pop epic I Hear a New World (lala) is a thing to behold. There are points where it is a little like the Chipmunks on mescaline, but if you are up for a rocket trip to that deep space nebulae located at the intersection of kitsch and divine inspiration, if you have ever daydreamed about go-go girls on Space Station X, you should check it out.

In my mind, the transmigration of souls sounds a lot like "The Bublight"


  1. You wrote: "leading to the story how Meek borrowed a shotgun from The Tornados' bassist and in a fit of paranoia, killed his landlady and then himself."

    Firstly Joe did not borrow the shotgun: he confiscated it from Heinz (the bass player) and kept it hidden away. Secondly, it was not in a fit of paranoia but in a deep depression that he shot Violet Shenton his landlady after an argument about "the book" - thought by some to be the rent book - before reloading the single barrel gun and shooting himself.

  2. Thanks for that correction. I will adjust my article thusly.

    As I hope I indicated, It's a story with which I am not that familiar and would like to know more about.

  3. For a comprehensive scan through Meek's astonishing work and world, you should definitely seek out the illuminating documentary, A LIFE IN THE DEATH OF JOE MEEK. Dozens of first hand accounts from family and colleagues.