Sunday, January 17, 2021

Tubular Bells - The Mike Oldfield Story

 A superb video about Mike Oldfield and the making of his classic, The Tubular Bells.

 When Mike Oldfield was about 14 years old his sister, Sally Oldfield, who played a bit of folk guitar, taught him three chords on the guitar, but two weeks later she went into his room and he was running his fingers all over the fretboard. She said he learned how to play the guitar at striking speed. Within a year Mike Oldfield was an accomplished musician - a virtuoso.

At 16 years old Mike Oldfield played bass for Kevin Ayers, a musician who had moderate fame in Britain during the 1970's. Mike Oldfield says that he didn't just want to put the bass notes in at the right places, and so he put in little melodies in-between the notes. 

When Mike was 17 years old Kevin Ayers disbanded his band, and Mike Oldfield became a session musician at Richard Branson's Virgin Records, Manor House recording studio.  

But one day Mike Old field took LSD at a party and it caused him a lot of distress, resulting in him feeling very uncomfortable when being with people after that, and so he ended up becoming a recluse. It took him a lifetime to recover, but today he's quite fine. 

When Kevin Ayers broke up his band he gave Mike Oldfield a two track recorder, which he eventually used to record the demo versions on of Tubular Bells on. Richard Branson couldn't afford to record his album, but let him use the studio in-between recording sessions of other bands. 

Mike Oldfield ended up using ten instruments on the album, which worried Richard Branson as he could not afford it. It's amazing how Mike Oldfield learnt how to play so many instruments in such a short space of time and how to use a 16 track studio too. 

One day John Cale had finished doing a recording, and when the roadies were taking the instruments out of the studio Mike Oldfield noticed some tubular bells and asked to borrow them.

 Mike Oldfiel was making a rock album but the tubular bells turned out to be far too quiet, so the engineers tried to record the bells in various different ways to make them louder, but in the end they told him to just go for it and use ball hammer. 

Richard Branson was never certain whether the album was going to be a hit or not as it had only one track on it, with no singing, and no drums. In fact, no one else knew either, but in the end it did so well it set Richard Branson up for all his later adventures. 

Shortened version - extracts

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