Joe Meek

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Joe Meek
Joe Meek (Robert George Meek, 1929–1967[1]) was a pioneering English record producer and songwriter.

Meek was born at 1 Market Square, Newent, Gloucestershire, and developed an interest in electronics and performance art at a very early age. This led him into record production, and songwriting, although he had no musical training. His best-remembered hit is the Tornados' "Telstar" (1962), which became the first record by a British group to reach No.1 in the US Hot 100. It also spent five weeks atop the UK singles chart, with Meek receiving an Ivor Novello Award for this production as the "Best-Selling A-Side" of 1962.

Meek's other hits include "Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O" and "Cumberland Gap" by Lonnie Donegan (as engineer), "Johnny Remember Me" by John Leyton, "Just Like Eddie" by Heinz, "Angela Jones" by Michael Cox, "Have I the Right?" by the Honeycombs, and "Tribute to Buddy Holly" by Mike Berry. Meek's concept album I Hear a New World, which contains innovative use of electronic sounds, was not released in his lifetime.[2]

Meek also produced music for films such as Live It Up! (US title Sing and Swing, 1963), a pop music film which featured Gene Vincent, the Outlaws pop group, jazz musician Kenny Ball and others. Meek wrote most of the songs and incidental music, much of which was recorded by the Saints and which Meek produced.[3]

His commercial success as a producer was short-lived, and Meek gradually sank into debt and depression.

Meek's homosexuality – illegal in the UK at the time – put him under further pressure; he had been convicted of "importuning for immoral purposes" in 1963 and fined £15: he was consequently subject to blackmail.[4] In January 1967, police in Tattingstone, Suffolk, discovered a suitcase containing the mutilated body of Bernard Oliver. According to some accounts, Meek became concerned that he would be implicated in the murder investigation when the Metropolitan Police said they would be interviewing all known homosexual men in the city.

On 3 February 1967, using a shotgun owned by musician Heinz Burt, Meek killed his landlady and then himself.


Adapted from a Wikipedia article.

  1. "Joe Meek" 3 February 1967
  2. "The Wire's '100 Records That Set The World On Fire (While No One Was Listening) + extra 30 Records"
  3. IMDb title 0057504 Live It Up!
  4. Chris Mikul Bizarrism Critical Vision, 1999 isbn=1-900486-06-7 Page 111