Freelance Engineer

My very 1st freelance project was thanks to Ronnie Leahy, keyboardist for Scottish band “Stone The Crows”. I’d previously worked with Ronnie at DJM Studios on a brilliantly arranged and produced instrumental version of “Land of Hope and Glory” he did. We hadn’t spent a great deal of time together so before we headed of to The Manor in Kidlington, Oxford he invited me to his flat in Earls Court where his wife Joan cooked dinner for us all. Its funny how you remember small details even so many years after but I was very touched by the hospitality shown to me by Ronnie and Joan.
The band were from Finland and called Wigwam, its leader was Jim Pembroke and the album released on Virgin was titled “The Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose”. I got to know Richard Branson a little at this time as he visited at the weekends, it was also the time that he met Joan. I really loved the residential set up at the Manor. No traffic to get to the studio. Great Food and the wonderful Manor ladies! Richard knew the key to success was surrounding yourself with great people I don’t think this trait has ever left him.
Later that year I returned to The Manor with Producer Pip Williams and over the next couple years we did recordings there with Artists such as Mud, Bardot, Strapps, Kit Hain and Status Quo.
Also in Oxford I worked with producer Mike Vernon at his Chipping Norton studios on his production of George Chandler.
Whilst working at The Marquee I had worked with songwriter producers Arnold, Martin and Morrow and they asked me to go to Manchester and record Guys and Dolls.
The biggest overseas freelance work though did begin with Status Quo, firstly over to Ireland for an aborted RAOTW album, then Superbear was scheduled in France but didn’t have the power connected in time so we ended up in the cooler climate of Gothenberg, Sweden.
After the mixing of the Rockin’ All Over The World Album was completed between The Marquee and Threshold Francis Rossi got a producing project from CBS with a band called Flying Squad.
He asked me to engineer and mix this and so we headed off to Wisslelord Studios, Hilversum, Holland together.
The studio was great but the hotel didn’t work out so we found an amazing little place called the Kompass Motel in Utrecht.
All this worked out rather well as we subsequently returned for two Status Quo albums If You Cant Stand The Heat and Whatever You Want.
In between all this I also engineered and mixed the Heroes album, Brian Connolly (Sweet) singles at Chipping Norton, Les Gray single (Groovy Kind of Love) which partly was done at Lansdowne all with Pip producing.
There is one extremely important person in my working period here that I’ve not mentioned in much detail and that is Simon White director of The Marquee Studios. He provided much guidance and encouragement to me even during this freelance period and he became my manager. Pip was very well represented as a producer by David Walker at Handle Artists and I felt I needed someone in my corner as well.This move although I don’t think either Pip or myself knew it at the time was about to change our relationship which basically came to a conclusion with The Moody Blues album which I started at Threshold that became known as Long Distance Voyager.
I had already worked about a month on this album without any idea knowing the deal I was on. In fact as I learned later Pip’s agreement had not been worked out either as David’s angle was to get the Moody’s very committed into the process of recording as he felt this would improve his negotiating power. David though was unhappy that I now had Simon acting for me and came into the studio and tore into me in no uncertain terms.
He was a skillful negotiator but had a very aggressive temperament. From that point forward it was downhill for me. Shortly after this incident Simon had a call from the Status Quo management team asking if I would co produce the next two Quo albums. It was time to make a decision and move on.
I must say great thanks to Pip for all the time we had together. He is an outstanding arranger, producer and musician.

Into the Producers Chair