by Wrinkled Weasel


Mike Hurst 
Clem Cattini and Ray Fenwick



The year is 1962. Lights flood the small performance area at Quaglino’s, a night club in St James’, London. A few people sit in the audience, but they are shrouded in darkness. Mike Hurst, at the age of 18, has come for an audition and stands like a rabbit caught in the headlights waiting to do his song. He’s auditioning for The Springfields and he gets the job. It’s a big break. Within a year, The Springfields are cracking the USA charts, being the first British act to do so. They play the Carnegie Hall. Back home, The Island of Dreams peaks at number five in a British Pop Chart dominated by American artists. They are headlining everywhere, including the Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium, a show watched on TV by 23 million people. Suddenly, a teenager has more than he could have ever dreamed of. Everyone wants to know him. How was he going to handle it, and what was he going to do when the bubble burst?

51 top 40 singles and 25 gold and platinum albums later, I caught up with Mike to find out how he faced fame, fortune and failure. It is the story of one of the most underrated performers and record producers still working today. For a young man whose mother had put him on the stage at the age of four, and who, not long after appeared on the same bill as Max Miller and Sid Field in variety, life has turned full circle. Mike Hurst still produces records, runs training courses for young people who want to get into the music business and still has a passion for theatre, including pantomime, all of which benefit from having some of Mike’s friends along who just happen to be among the most prolific and highly rated session musicians of the last fifty years.

Mike Hurst’s story is compelling, not only because almost everyone in Twentieth Century popular music knows where he fits in, but also because his career spans half a century and is a cogent narrative of the radical changes in music and culture that took place. What took place was a transition in pop, which had its beginnings in stage variety, to a culture shock of rock and roll that absorbed and reflected massive changes; about attitudes, youth, identity, and so on. At the hypocentre of this period of rapid and profound change was the 1960’s London Scene. Everyone in the business knew everyone else. They played the same venues, relaxed at the same clubs and took comfort stops at the same terrible motorway services. In those early days of liminality and mohair suits, nobody suspected that within five years the world of popular music would change forever. As Hurst says of the variety acts like Anne Shelton and Russ Conway, “They all got blown away”. This is the story of an individual who made his mark during one of the most intensely creative periods of the last century.
By the time he joined The Springfields, Hurst was already a seasoned trouper. He had done the rounds. On one occasion he sat patiently on a stool at EMI Studio Number 2, Abbey Road, waiting to do his turn and speculating on whether he would spend the rest of his working life with a guitar or a filing cabinet. Auditions; that’s what aspiring musicians did, followed by, “Thanks, we’ll let you know.” The filing cabinet beckoned. A year later, Hurst’s mum responded to an ad in The Stage for a guitarist and singer and sent in his details. He had no idea what it was about, but your mum sends you and that is all you need to know because your mum is on your side.

MH: When I finally reached the small stage at Quaglino’s, I asked the people I was unable to see behind the lights, what they wanted me to do. A disembodied voice said 'anything you like'. I sang Mess of Blues, an Elvis number, and when I had finished, the same voice asked me if I could do a song in a foreign language. Having an Italian grandfather has some benefits so I did an old Neapolitan folk song. When I finished, the same voice said, 'we'll let you know’. 

And they did. Life on the Road for The Springfields was more a job of work than an exercise in excess and self-delusion. After being recruited to the band, Tom Springfield took Hurst to a London tailor, got fitted for a beige suit and a tie with horizontal stripes on it. Not a great look as Mike admits but then came a guitar.

MH: I’d had a four pounds ten Framus guitar. So we went to Selmer’s in Charing Cross Road. (On Saturdays, a uniformed commissionaire stood at the double doors. It was that kind of place.) So we bought a pair of Gibson jumbo country and western guitars and I still have it and it is still my favourite. It’s a living legend, that guitar! One of the pegs belonged to Dell Shannon, who gave it to me on a tour. Then Bobby Vee put his foot through it by accident, so there is a repair job on it.
There were no assistants, no entourage - nothing like that. There was a manager/agent, Captain Emlyn Griffiths, who wore a monocle. What he was doing in the pop world, I had no idea. But that was the deal and in show business you don’t say “no” to anything. As far as I was concerned I was going to go out and sing and make records. It was like a dream come true. As for pay, it was an incredibly fair thing, because I walked into that and everything was split three ways between me, Tom and Dusty. There was no question that I was the new kid.. Tom always got the lion’s share because he wrote the songs and Dusty never quibbled about anything anyway. 

When the Springfields money started to come in, Hurst went out and bought a Mini. But that was the extent of any rock and roll excess at that point. Hurst was a professional. Dusty and Tom were too, and together they worked on the act and took care not only with the music, but with their stage presence.

MH: Tom was the brains behind the band as well as writing the songs. Tom sorted out with the manager what gigs we would do but it was Dusty who worked on the performance. We used to go and stand in front of mirrors in a rehearsal room off Hanover Square, and we would stand for hours with our guitars, with Dusty in the middle, working out how we would look and how we would move to the song. Everything was worked out to the nth degree. The harmonies, we rehearsed those over and over and over again. Most performers did it that way. 

The year of 1962 was the Springfields’ biggest, with Island of Dreams reaching number 5 in the charts. They shared the pop charts with such luminaries as Bee Bumble and the Stingers, Frank Ifield, The Tornadoes and Cliff Richard and the Shadows but American artists like Elvis and Ray Charles still dominated them. Everyone wanted to look and sound American because the British Invasion was yet to come. They also broke into the US Charts before the Beatles did, unlike Cliff, despite his being a home-grown perennial favourite. There were also the inevitable novelty records, such as Mike Sarne and Wendy Richard, singing “Come Outside”. Already there was a tension building in popular music and breaking the US market brought that into sharp perspective. America seemed to be the key.

WW: The Springfields were professional then, but did you have any aspirations to be, erm, let us say, a bit more cool?
MH: Oh yes. Tom didn’t. Dusty and I certainly did. Dusty was really into the Motown sounds that were coming out of the States. I wanted to do Rock and Roll. I didn’t want to wear beige suits, but I didn’t argue about it. But the beginnings of a change had already begun. John Lennon presented us with honorary membership of the Beatles fan club in 1962. He could be very acerbic and sarcastic, whereas the others were just nice guys. I liked Paul very much.
WW: Did you get a sense then that The Beatles were anything special?
MH: Yes, because if you start singing other peoples’ songs in your dressing room – there we were, The Springfields, doing From Me to You before our show, the corollary to that is that we were basically dead. We tried to keep up and started doing songs with “oohs” in and we were getting rockier just before the break-up. And by this time we had gone electric. I had a Martin Dreadnought Electric guitar.
WW: Were you subjected to fan hysteria?
MH: That was something that was coming. We would go out and you would get screamed at. That was normal because that had come from Cliff Richard fans. Apart from that, you flew in from somewhere and came through passport control and they would smile at you or when you went to the bank people would tell you that they enjoyed the TV show, but it did not amount to being feted. But I saw the change in the way the fans began to react to pop stars. I saw it in one afternoon in Regent Street. I was in a taxi, coming from the BBC with Paul McCartney and he wanted to get out in Regent Street and the taxi stopped. What I saw then was something I had never seen in my life. People seemed to come from every direction and Paul and I ran across the road into Austin Reed’s and they had to hide us in the dressing room. We were eventually smuggled out of the back of the building. I was horrified. I couldn’t believe anything could be so manic. And that’s when I realised that the game had changed. Suddenly you had something that was British and the world had gone berserk.
A lot of people forget that the screaming fans stopping traffic scenario pre-dated The Beatles, although, as Mike implies, it became another ball game with them. Billy Fury had screaming fans, someone who Clem Cattini toured with. Also Terry Dene, who almost nobody remembers except Clem!

Clem Cattini has been friends with Mike for decades. Cattini played drums on Shakin All Over, with Johnny Kid and the Pirates, joined The Tornadoes and had a number one hit with Telstar and is one of the most sought after session drummers there is. He estimates he has played on 45 number one British singles and is still called in today, recently for Paul Weller, but is the drummer on such hits as Get it On (T Rex), Something in the Air (Thunderclap Newman), You Really Got Me (The Kinks) The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (Walker Brothers) and Where Do You Go to My Lovely (Peter Sarstedt) He describes himself as a “hooligan drummer” from a rock and roll band who taught himself how to play using a Buddy Rich drum tutor and a metronome. It has served him rather well.

Clem Cattini: I went to Ireland and they had closed O’Connell Street because the kids wouldn’t leave until Terry Dene had come out on the Hotel balcony and sung for them. It was probably the start of the superstar thing but we never realised it. We just wanted to play rock and roll.

The Paul McCartney connection has another angle. Hurst tells me he introduced McCartney to Jane Asher, someone he had known for some time. Jane Asher came to see The Springfields perform at a BBC show in 1962 and Paul McCartney and the other Fabs were on the bill Jane asked Mike if he could introduce her to Paul and that evening Jane Asher and Paul McCartney left the BBC studio together. It kind of begs the question whether Hurst was ever star-struck himself.

MH: Nobody until I met Fred Astaire. Because I had been brought up on his movies. To me he was a legend. It was much later, in the 1970s and Astaire was recording at CTS Studios, Wembley and I was too, I was up in the bar and the guy who ran the studio came up and said, “Mike, would you like to meet Fred Astaire”. I said, “pull the other one, it’s got bells on it”, and as I turned around there was Fred Astaire looking at me. I was cheeky. I looked at him and told him I was pleased to meet him and everything else and I said, “Could you do something for me?” and Astaire said, “Sure. What it is it kid?” and I said, “Can you just walk down the bar, the way you walk when you walk into a room in those movies you made?” And do you know what? He just turned around and did that light as air walk and then came back again.
That year of 1962 past in a blur, and I had to be the luckiest guy on Earth. The papers thought I was the Springfields good luck charm, because within three months we had the first ever top 10 single by a British group in the USA.

We flew to Nashville to record, the first ever group from Britain to do that.  The sessions were rushed to say the least, the string arrangements being written, or scribbled, in the studio!! That, we discovered, was Nashville. Elvis's vocal group The Jordanaires, were there for additional vocals, and all the musicians were great guys, but it was obvious that the technicians and producer regarded us at best as amateurs and at worst interlopers. What the hell were these Limeys doing in Nashville?
Whilst there we met and played with Chet Atkins, Bill Black (Elvis's bass player}, and met Johnny Cash. One drunken evening at the Holiday Inn Motel in Nashville, a drunken Cash insisted I jump out of the first floor window in to the pool below. We actually held hands to do this, me....and Johnny Cash!  Griff (the Captain) and our manager, was an undoubted asset in the USA. You see, he wore a monocle! Now that was pretty eccentric in England, but in the States it was a cause for incredulity and amazement. The favourite comment from our American cousins was 'Screw in you glass eye Emile and give us a show'! They called him Emile because they couldn't handle Emlyn, his proper name. Wales and the Welsh did not appear on their radar! If it did they probably though it was somewhere in Arkansas! Before we left the States, we were entertained back stage at the Golden Theatre, by the cast of Beyond the Fringe, the hit UK show. The stars, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Jonathan Millar, and Alan Bennett were so anarchic and irreverent, which was appealed to all of us. But we couldn't believe how American they had become! They even had TV in their dressing rooms. Oh, and we also played Carnegie Hall in NY, with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and Merle Travis, greats of country music.
After the American tour we came back to the UK at Christmas time to a top 5 single here, appeared before the Queen at the Royal Command Performance, and toured the UK with Bobby Vee and Johnny Tillotson. 

Hurst did what all performers do at a Royal Command Performance and waited in line to meet The Queen and Prince Philip. When Her Majesty reached Hurst, she asked where he was from and he replied “Oslo”. It was one of those moments when nothing is real and his answer reflected it. Prince Philip was next and said, “You are not really from Oslo, are you?”

MH: I haven't talked much about Dusty. Both she and Tom were an odd couple; you could never really get to know them. Why I wasn't sure. First I put it down to age difference, then having no shared interests other than music. They liked clubs, staying up all night, getting up late. I liked the great outdoors, swimming, shooting, games of all sorts, and of course, girls.  Dusty also had a strange habit, to me at any rate, of looking for the nearest Catholic Church wherever we went. I couldn't see her as a devout Catholic, somehow the lifestyle didn't fit. The other anomaly I noticed was the frequency of female visitors to her dressing room at our gigs. Look, I was just 20, it was 1962 and I still thought lesbians were a Mediterranean island race. I also had no idea just then that Tom was also gay. This was still the age of innocence, or possibly stupidity.
1963, and Britain had a new Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. We met him, or rather disturbed him, on the sleeper from London to Liverpool. He came out to see what the noise was, and we introduced ourselves. He was seriously underwhelmed. On that trip, we were invited to The Cavern, where John Lennon made us Honorary members of The Beatles fan club. Considering the fact they were about to wipe us off the face of British music scene, it was the least he could do!
That year The Springfields were also voted Top British Group in the NME, and The Beatles were Best Newcomers. During rehearsals I sat in the Wembley Arena with Paul McCartney, and told him I was worried about the name. After all, what sort of a name was Beatles?  I should have known. We sang their songs in our dressing room. When you do that, you are generally terminal.

Clem Cattini: The Beatles came along and killed everything for everybody. They just changed the face of music completely. Suddenly the instrumental groups went out of the window. The popularity of bands like The Shadows dipped almost overnight. The Beatles weren’t exactly bad for the business, but they were bad for some of us in the business. When they went to America I wondered what they were doing because it was like taking coals to Newcastle. They were doing American songs. But the marketing kicked in. It was the marketing that did it.

At the age of 20, Hurst married Sarah Hearne. Sarah was the daughter of Richard Hearne aka Mr Pastry who was a major variety and TV star on both sides of the Atlantic, but not quite as pleasant, according to Hurst, as his Mr Pastry persona would have suggested.  Anyway, a showbiz wedding was organised and attended by the stars of both the pop world and the world of variety, and took place by special permission of HM Queen Elizabeth at the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy due to Richard Hearne’s connections, but Mike was terrified, knew it was all a mistake, and nearly ran away on the day of the wedding. It was just too much too soon and the marriage was doomed from the start. At the same time, unbeknown to Mike, the glittering career was about to lose some lustre.

MH: In the summer of 63' we were doing a one night stand at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, During rehearsals we were 'taking' tea, as one does, when Tom came out with a jaw dropping suggestion. 'Why don't we break up?'  Dusty simply said , yes what a good idea, and me? Well I was too young and too inexperienced to see beyond the moment, and I blindly agreed. For innocent read naive. How could I have even suspected that Dusty, our Manager Griff and the record company had already planned this? Tom didn't care: he had never cared about performing, and generally doped himself up to the eyeballs to get through a show. I just thought I would have no problem with a solo career. I was foolish and young. It was agreed that the break up would be announced in September and take place in October.
We had done all the thing we wanted to do. Then there was the last gig of all. There we are at the Palladium and there were 23 million people watching the show. We got paid £375 between the three of us. Bruce Forsyth presented us with a silver cigarette box each and Dusty said to Bruce, “What’s in it? Money?”. We got paid zilch for that, our final gig.

The Springfields officially broke up in October of 1963. Mike set about building a solo career but already, doors were closing and phone calls were not being returned. As Mike says, he wishes he had realised at the time that nobody involved in the business was terribly interested.
MH: It sunk in though. I had a contract with Philips records but they didn’t want me to do the stuff I wanted to do. They wanted me to do straight pop, Gene Pitney material and I didn’t want to do that at all. I was looking for other agents and management and nobody wanted to know. Either that or they promised the earth and delivered nothing. So I had to do it for myself. I went out and put a band together. I found Jimmy Page in a coffee bar in Denmark Street. He was 17. I had met Tony Ashton already and Nigel Menday who played Drums. We called ourselves The Methods and rehearsed in the downstairs workshop of Duggie Millings in Saville Row. He was the Beatles tailor, and also Adam Faith’s. And Adam and the Roulettes and me and The Methods rehearsed alternately in this tailor’s in Saville Row. I still see Adam’s backing band, The Roulettes – drummer, Bobby Henrit (later to become a member of Argent). We went out and played country rock music, which nobody really wanted to know about. But it’s amazing how some people remember you because when I got the gold British Academy of Songwriters Award in 1998, a guy came up to me, an old time publisher, and told me he saw The Methods at the Belgravia club on New Year’s Eve 1963. He said, “I thought the band were great, it’s just that the material wasn’t right”. So, the material wasn’t right, but we went out on tour with Gene Pitney and Cilla Black and Billy J Kramer in ’64 and had a ball. We tried to ruin Gene Pitney’s act because he was so up himself. We got pretty fed up with this so during Pitney’s act, we would play along, behind the curtain. (Pitney had an orchestra in the pit). There was a delay between them and us and Pitney was upset to say the least. By the summer of ’64 Jimmy Page had left and Albert Lee had joined the band, but by that time the gigs were drying up and it died a natural death.

However ill-conceived the musical direction that Mike pursued with The Methods, a clear transition had taken place in the way pop acts were behaving, in particular the need to have artistic control. Mike had done The Springfields on variety bills, playing the Moss Empires and at Cinemas, as did all the acts on the Road. Now, the idea of a band, with a separate identity was getting into the public consciousness. The Shadows admit they were eclipsed because their image was still that of a variety act, where they all wore dinner jackets and took a bow at the end of the show.

Clem Cattini: The first tour I ever did in a band was on the same bill as Max Wall. (Wall was a surreal comedian and actor who had a clown-like stage outfit, along with big shoes). I felt sorry for Max because this was the start of Rock and Roll. Max tried to do a comedy turn as Bill Haley, with the kiss curl, and he just got booed. We started by doing weeks at places, like you did in weekly variety and suddenly the one night stand situation appeared and we started doing gigs in ballrooms.

Hurst had to go out on the road again as a solo act. By the end of ’64, the marriage to Sarah was obviously over, the big money was over, together with a Belgravia flat, and the E-Type Jaguar and more importantly, the career seemed to be over. All Mike could get in the way of bookings was the Northern Clubs. It must have seemed that the common understanding, that pop gave you fifteen minutes of fame and then spewed you out again back on to the factory floor or the office, was true. Hurst sold his Martin Dreadnought guitar to Dec Clusky of the Bachelors, in order to pay the bills. Money had to be made somehow.
MH: I did a week up at Burnley Casino as a solo act. I turned up and the manager said, “Have you got your dots?” and I said, “Do you mean my music? Do you have a backing band?” and he said yes, and pointed to someone in the corner, and it was Mabel, on the organ. I put my music in front of her and she played, and it was dire. So I told the owner not to bother about Mabel. So I said, “When do I go on?” and the manager said, “Between bouts four and five”. I was playing in between the wrestling and two years earlier it was the Palladium with Dusty and 23 million people. It was the pits, but I somehow never thought my career was at an end, though I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get out of playing solo between wrestling matches. I used to drive back to London every night because I couldn’t stand it up there.
I did a week at a Cabaret Club in Liverpool. The first night was a disaster. You could put this down to me, it may be that I couldn’t hold their attention, but it was terrible. No reaction, nothing. So I went up to the bar and there was Gerry Marsden, who by that time had had number one hits with How do you do it, I like it, and You’ll Never Walk Alone. So anyway We chatted and I told him I couldn’t hear anything over the knives and forks and glasses and laughing. And Gerry said, “Don’t worry about that, it’ll be fine tomorrow night.” And I told him that I wished I had his confidence. Tuesday night came around and the audience was fantastic. Wednesday night was the same; just great, and Gerry was there again and I asked him how he knew the gig would be ok. Marsden said “Cos Big Ed’s here” and pointed to this massive guy at the end of the bar. “He’s a friend of mine, works down the docks and he’s been round telling the audience to shut their bloody traps. And Mike, he’ll be here for the rest of the week for ya.”

There was some respite from the change in fortune and the calls to agents that somehow never got returned. Hurst was befriended by PJ Proby. Proby was another huge star at the time who specialised in scandalising his audience. After accidentally splitting his trousers during a show, Proby contrived to keep the trouser-splitting in the act and consequently got news headlines and a lot of publicity. He had had a string of hits in1964, using among others, Jimmy Page, on recording sessions.

MH: P J Proby had a house in Chesterfield Terrace, off the King’s Road. He was going out with Diana Dors at the time. The whole thing was extraordinary. He had a painting over his fireplace of himself, depicted as Jesus Christ, in the clouds, with a halo. He had a maniac servant called Bongo Wolf and Bongo took Proby’s Bassett Hounds for walks all day long. Proby’s life was a nightmare, a sort of surreal film. There were the usual things like orgies and drugs. I got out of it when I realised that the whole scene was insane, but I was fascinated because I loved his accent and he was a great personality and I was drifting around the place and Jim was there.

Then, at the beginning of 1965 Mike met Marjorie Peers. They had narrowly missed each other at Roger Whittaker’s wedding, but Marjorie had child commitments and did not make it, though she did get to hear through friends who went that there was a really nice guy called Mike Hurst among the guests. 

Marjorie: I met Mike at the studio of Ready Steady Radio, which was broadcast on Radio Luxembourg. I only remembered his name because my father had been mad about The Springfields. Very often, the artists who had been on Ready Steady Go went on to do Ready Steady Radio. I was there because my husband at that time, who was an agent, had one of his artists on the show. They had a little stage and the rest of the room was in darkness. There were no seats, you just stood and watched. Sandi Shaw came on and as usual for Sandi she was singing in bare feet. This tall person, who was standing next to me in the darkness, who I couldn’t see said, “Those feet – they’re so disgusting!” And I said, “Oh no, not at all” and this stranger said, “ I happen to have absolutely beautiful feet”. 

Despite the novel pick up line, Marjorie says, “We talked again when the lights came up and it was all forward from then.” Mike and Marjorie married in 1966. They have six children and 17 grandchildren. 

The evening of the Ready Steady Radio show, Mike accompanied Marjorie and her then husband to dinner. The result was not only the beginnings of their nearly fifty years together, but an opportunity to present Teen Scene on BBC’s Light Programme. Even so, when Mike met Marjorie, he was not exactly at the pinnacle of his career.

Marjorie: I never met The Springfields because Mike had just finished with them and he was trying to make it as a solo artist. We were both married at the time, but of course it was clear that both of us had married far too young the first time, both of us had been married at twenty, but that is what people did in those days and we had divorces to deal with first. We were fairly poor when we started up together. I was a complete fool – how did I put my faith in him at that stage?  I was besotted! Since then, the kids have had the most wonderful childhood because not long after we got together, Mike met Cat Stevens. The Children are all musical, unlike me. Mike would come in some days and try and get me to do harmonies and it was difficult to convince him that I was not at all musical. But the kids are. Mike’s mother came down to stay with us in Henley and started a theatre group and the family have carried that on. Four of them have their own children’s theatre groups in different parts of the country.

Hurst was still married to Sarah Hearne but it was Marjorie’s then husband Chris Peers who opened another door. Peers was a well-known agent and knew everybody in the business. He’d even seen Mike as a sixteen year-old hopeful in the days when Mike’s mother was plugging away trying to get him a career. There seemed to be an escape, at least a partial escape from the long car journeys to the North to do his “turn”. 

MH: Chris fixed for me to do Teen Scene, a record and interview show on The Light Programme that tried to reflect the beginnings of Swinging Sixties London. I did an audition and the producer was a guy called Wilfred De’Ath. He was preposterous and a bit of a pseud and loved to have the big stars around. The show was done by the BBC talks department, but De’Ath loved all the models and the glamour, so Chrissie Shrimpton was called in as a co-host. London was starting to swing at the beginning of 1965 and the brief was to get people who were in the middle of it to come in and be interviewed. We used to finish the show at 10.30 on a Monday night and we would all go down to The Sands in Bond Street and drink until the place closed. Michael Caine was did the show, and so did Michael Crawford, Malcolm McDowell, Francesca Annis and Jean Shrimpton. Everybody was on that show. I chose the music and it went down a storm with the talks department. I was playing stuff from America; The Beach Boys, The Lovin’ Spoonful. The Talks Department hated it. We were called in almost once a week and told that this was not the sort of music we should be playing. They wanted Cliff Richard. But it they also wanted Swinging London and that was what they got, but it was a weekly battle. The BBC just did not get it, hence the emergence of the Pirate Radio stations who did get it and who later helped make my records with Cat Stevens big hits. 

Teen Scene had P.J. Proby as a guest. His act was already causing a scandal, if a contrived one. Proby came on the show with a psychiatrist and Mike led them on to some dangerous ground. The shrink was commenting on how Proby’s act brought the girls in the audience to a climax and Proby drawled, “Ah don’t do that, Ah leave ‘em hangin”. This was not what The BBC wanted to do and the presenters got carpeted. Bob Dylan did the show straight from a flight across the Atlantic and though not controversial, he was monosyllabic, treating Mike to the interviewer’s nightmare of one word answers. And the questions got longer and the answers got shorter. The Dylan interview only warmed up during the last thirty seconds when Mike asked Dylan about a song that Mike had realised contained a coded message to Joan Baez, but by then it was too late. It was live and it was gone. Mike was not, by his own admission and experienced interviewer and had written and read out his questions. When he got to the bottom of the page, the air was pregnant with Dylanesque pauses. Apart from that, they were having a ball. The BBC hierarchy failed to enjoy the party atmosphere that the show had and after three months, Teen Scene was taken off the air. Eventually the show re-emerged on Television as “A Whole Scene Going” with Peter Asher as presenter. By that time it was clear, even to the BBC, that a new cultural concept needed to be addressed. After being paid £125 a week to present Teen Scene, the future looked bleak again.


By the end of Teen Scene, Mike was in a relationship with Marjorie and it was she who suggested he become a record producer.
MH: I said I didn’t know how to do that and she asked me how Johnny Franz produced The Springfields and I said “by sitting at the mixing desk reading a copy of the Daily Telegraph”. She said, “You could do that”. So I asked Andrew Oldham for some work.

Andrew Loog Oldham
Hurst had met Andrew Loog Oldham before whilst on touring as The Springfields with Del Shannon also on the bill. Oldham, in his blustering way had appeared at their dressing room door and Hurst had let him in. Oldham told them he wanted to become Shannon’s publicist.

MH: This spotty kid with red hair and sunglasses knocked on the dressing room door and asked if Mr Shannon was there, so I said, “Who are you?” He said, “I am Andrew Loog Oldham. I am the best publicist there is and I want to represent Del Shannon.” I let him in and Andrew did the spiel and in the end Del Shannon took him on. Andrew later returned the favour. He got me some work as a producer and the first band I produced was The Golden Apples of the Sun for Andrew’s Immediate label. Then there was Tony Rivers and the Castaways who I did a Beach Boys cover with. Of course, it was not as if I was an unknown quantity, due to the success of The Springfields.
Andrew Loog Oldham had managed The Rolling Stones and went on to set up Immediate Records, one of the few independent labels of the time. Immediate was synonymous with swinging sixties cool and featured such bands as The Small Faces, Amen Corner, The Nice, Chris Farlowe and P.P. Arnold. Hurst was, to use a contemporary phrase, where it was at.

MH: Then I went to Mickie Most and did the same thing. The first track I did for Mickie was Come Away Melinda with Barry St John, which was at least a top fifty record. It’s a depressing song, but I had some fun with it. It was a big arrangement, with strings, so that was a challenge for me. Mickie had the song and I found Barry St John to cover it and it was a hit, and Mickie was furious; he said, “I should have put my name on that”.

Barry St John was a Scottish female singer. Come Away Melinda is an anti-war song written by Tim Rose. On this cover version it featured a little girl’s voice on it - Mommy, mommy, come and see. Oh, mommy, hurry do (St John did the little girl’s voice as well). The song Mike produced is credited to Mickie Most on the label who was not above claiming credit if he thought he had a hit. It reached number 40 in the Radio Caroline Sounds of ’65 charts in December of that year. At the top of that chart was of course The Beatles with Day Tripper and We Can Work it Out. Come Away Melinda may have been depressing but it encouraged Hurst in the direction of orchestral arrangements, something he was to excel at. 

MH: I used to run through the songs with the arrangers about a week before the recording, tell them what I wanted to hear and what kind of instruments, and left it to them. It gave me a respect for really good musicians and it was something I loved. I used people I believed in, like Mitch Mitchell on drums and the rest of the Blue Flames and I have to say it did me a lot of good as a producer. The session players all came out of bands, and you carry that with you. When you go into the studio as a producer you take control. You walk in there with something as unquantifiable as an artist, a song that you don’t know whether it will work or not and a bunch of musicians. You put all those things together and you are the one that has to make that work. I loved taking on that kind of responsibility.

Already the underpinnings of the commercial version of the counterculture were in place, with Independent labels like Immediate and the Pirate Radio stations such as Caroline and London. Both Most and Oldham were independent producers, part of a move away from the old fashioned “in house” style that had both stifled new talent and ironically, spawned The Beatles, more by accident than design. It was left to the independent producers to push the boundaries. Some were musically literate and had a passion for finding new talent, as opposed to sitting in a big office, waiting for the talent to come through the door. Phil Spector had made it ok to impress a production style on a record, as opposed to merely switching on a machine and hiring arrangers.

Mickie Most

Mickie Most in particular was a significant player in this respect, over in the UK. Mike Hurst describes Most as a “dyed in the wool bastard” but he could pick his songs, though was not necessarily so sure about the right artists to record them. Oldham is not generally considered to know much about music but he could spot talent and knew how to present it. With the Rolling Stones he created a bad boy image that confronted and sank the popular crooners of the time who smiled on cue and wore cheesy dinner suits and dickie bows.

This preceded the Summer of Love when the various threads of the creative maelstrom truly came together, less than two years later, in 1967. The defining ethos of the Sixties was approaching critical mass and Hurst was lucky enough, experienced enough and talented enough to be in the right places at the right time. At Deram, Hurst produced a New Zealand Band called The Human Instinct, a notable track being, A Day in My Mind’s Mind, considered to be a minor classic of the Psychedelic genre and one of the first of the British productions that were heavily influenced by the Summer of Love. Hurst considers it a failure, in terms of its lack of chart success, but it was pointing the way to more complexity in pop music and parallels the kind of approach that George Martin was doing with The Beatles, if only because everyone at that point was taking LSD. The Human Instinct also managed a creditable cover of the Byrds hit, Renaissance Fair with Mike Hurst as producer, who inspired some very taught string arrangements for it.

A Day in My Mind’s Mind is possibly one of the few 60’s rock tracks that actually contains a hidden message. Some major songs were accused by various interested parties of subverting youth. Some songs were the subject of court cases where records were played backwards and bizarre instructions to listeners were alleged to be planted. At the outset of the track, a Morse code message is tapped out, quite clearly. To the uninitiated it is just a series of bleeps, but to those in the know, the message reads, Fuck off, Decca. They never knew.

For the time being, the lean times were over. Hurst was not merely reading the morning paper at the mixing desk, he was learning his craft and getting the skills that would make him a sought after record producer. Hurst was, like any artist, absorbing the vibe. At that time the vibe was still coming from the United States, and at the top of the pile, at least from the British point of view, was Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys.

MH: The biggest thing that turned me on was The Beach Boys. The harmonies were sublime. I listened to what Brian Wilson was doing with percussion and what Spector was doing with percussion. I started using things like two drum kits and playing a bass line on piano. Micky didn’t do that because Micky didn’t know about that and neither did Andrew, who only really cared about marketing. But to get a bass line and then a piano with the same bass line, playing a very low octave and then one octave up on that, and then you have something that sounds fantastic. With tracks like, She’s not the Girl I Once Knew they had the beginnings of Pet Sounds. It sounds corny now if you try and explain how you got the sounds, but there were no computers or anything digital, so if you wanted a different drum sound you would try hitting a a leather chair with a leather belt. You would put an amplifier, in front of a microphone in the Gent’s cloakroom of the studio and use the echo. There’s no drum beat on I Love My Dog, which was the recording that convinced me I could control the studio environment and consciously create hits. I used what I call a West Coast line-up; one cello, two trumpets, a trombone and a rhythm section. I just used cymbals. On the first take, when I first heard it all back I was petrified. I thought I would have egg on my face, I would lose money and it was going to be ridiculous. But then on the second and third takes, I did think it was good. The Pirate stations played it and did do well. A trick I learned from Micky Most; Micky used to have a little transistor radio on the control desk, hooked up to the mixer in order to feed the music into the radio to see how it would sound. The whole experience of producing was like piloting a starship.


While working for Andrew Oldham and Micky Most, Mike Hurst came across an article in The Sunday Times Colour Supplement about an American “producer” called Jim Economides. The article had Economides claiming to have produced The Beach Boys, but as his name suggests, Economides was economical with the truth. As it turned out, he had fled the United States, pursued by the Mafia, and later left England owing everybody money. There is little evidence that he ever went near The Beach Boys, and his US production credits are sketchy to say the least, but he did manage to convince a few artists that he had.

MH: I read the article and thought it was a joke and that he had never produced The Beach Boys but I was sufficiently impressed, so I rang up the Sunday Times to find out where this guy was. I got hold of him and he made an appointment for me straight away. Jim offered to pay me a salary to produce, which seemed to be a step in the right direction, since up to that point I had just been paid on a per session basis. He called everybody “Boob”. He said, “You can do this, and I’d like you to do that and let me know when it’s finished”.

Marc Bolan
And he just sent me off. And that’s how we met Marc Bolan because he came into the office. Jim had done a deal with Decca for seven or eight thousand pounds to produce a number of singles for them, which he never did, because he got me to produce Marc Bolan and never came up with anybody else for them. Jim really liked him and asked me to do something with him. I did the first two records with Marc. (The Third Degree and The Wizard, credited to Economides) Marc was very raw when he came in. What he did was good but I didn’t appreciate at the time that it could get better. I thought it was ok but that’s it. What I recognised in him was the burning desire to be successful. If that’s star quality, then he had star quality. I do believe you have to have that burning desire to make it. You don’t have to have incredible talent, you just have to have that self-belief. Cat Stevens had it.

Economides had done another deal with another record company for eight or nine thousand pounds, but he never provided them with recordings. Then Cat Stevens came in.

Cat Stevens

MH: Cat Stevens walked into the office with this music publisher and wallpaper guy, Bert Chalet, who says, puffing on a cigar, “I’ve got this kid”. I thought he was really good but Jim Economides thought he was total rubbish. Jim turned him down because Jim didn’t have any ears and Bert approached me privately and asked me to do a few tracks with him and it was Chalet who financed the session. Bert could spot talent but had no idea how poor these musicians were. He had a magnificent flat in Portland Square and told me, with some incredulity, that “these kids, they’ve got no money!” And I said, “What a surprise”. Bert had seen Cat and friends pass around one “cigarette” between them and so he took pity on them and offered a cigar. I went into the studio with Cat and did four tracks, one of which was Here Comes My Baby. Actually, this was the first song I recorded with Steve at Pye Studios, Marble Arch, London, along with "Smash Your Heart," "Come On And Dance" and one other, in full "budget" mode. There were only a handful of musicians, and the arrangements were done by one of Georgie Fame's Blue Flames.
It was at that point that Steve and I parted company, until he walked back into my life a few months later, after every record company in London had turned him down! I suppose we were meant for each other. The records went nowhere. Jim Economides ran back to America owing everybody a fortune and never paid the rent on the Albert Gate Court, overlooking Hyde Park. I had no money coming in and negotiated a job in the States and was on the point of leaving for America. I was offered a job with Vanguard Records in LA who were keen to buy into the British sound. I was ready to burn my bridges and go.
The next thing I know, there is Cat Stevens on our doorstep and he says he can’t get anywhere and would I still like to do something with him. At which point, he played me I Love My Dog and that was that.
I had to get a studio and had to get musicians together, so I got a guy called Chris Brough whose dad was Peter Brough, the ventriloquist who did Archie Andrews, and got him to come up with £275 for musicians. Chris wasn’t raving about Cat Stevens, but he believed in me as a producer, which was nice at the time. So I went into Decca records and sat down with Dick Rowe to negotiate some studio time. I couldn’t tell him I had a new artist to produce, so I told him I wanted to do a song with Mike D’Abo who was with the Manfreds. I said I was going off to America, which I was, but that I would like some studio time just to make a final record over here. Rowe took pity on me and said he would give me three hours in studio two at Decca. So he gave me three hours and I went in and made I Love My Dog with Cat Stevens.

Rowe was something of a legend in the business, having turned down The Beatles. 

Clem Cattini: Dick Rowe hadn’t got a clue about music, but in some ways it was a good thing because basically he was a punter, more of a music fan than a musician. He got people like Mike, who were musically inclined and had a concept of music. You have to remember that, in those days, a lot of the music producers were car salesmen.
MH: Later, I took the finished article in and confessed to Dick Rowe that I had not told the truth. He went mad, but I said, “Ok, fair enough, but have a listen to the record”. And then he went mad. He got the CEO of Decca, Sir Edward Lewis down, the Chairman listened to the recording and said, “My boy, you are a genius”, and decided there and then that I Love My Dog would launch Decca’s new label Deram. It wasn’t a major hit but it did what it set out to do and that was to launch Cat Stevens and the Deram label which became quite a cool label.
(When you listen to the track, check out the contra-bass clarinet, which emits a sort of low frequency vibrato wubber. WW)

It certainly made my name as a producer.
I got Dick James music to publish I Love My Dog and Dick thought he was on to a winner and that was when it all went very wrong. A lawyer rang me and asked if I wanted to be sued under my real name or my show business name. 

Cat Stevens had plagiarised someone else’s song. The Lawyer sent Hurst a copy of a song on some obscure label in Asia, called Rose Petal Time that was note for note the same as the Stevens version except for Hurst’s contribution, the “na na na na..” part which Hurst also doubled up on the vocals for. It was the only original part of the song.

MH: I called Steve (Cat Stevens) around to the office and he walked in and I said, “Yusef Lateef” and Steve went white as a sheet and I told him he was an idiot. He didn’t think anyone would ever find out. And we handed away half the music publishing royalties, so he never did that again. Dick James was not happy.

(Stevens’ version differs in detail from Mike’s recollection: My buddy Jimmy Mitchell had all these jazz records — Nina Simone and Roland Kirk — and he had an obscure one, Eastern Sounds by Yusef Lateef. The song "Plum Blossom" just had this great melody, and one day I wrote words to it. And I developed it. It became an important song for me. And later, after I became Muslim, I realized I had to own up and correct that, so I told Yusef Lateef about it, gave him a big cheque and in fact started paying him royalties.)

MH: The next one was Matthew and Son. We got a lot of airplay on Radio London with I Love My Dog. The Pirates were crucial in giving the record buyers what they really wanted and without Radio London, the song would have struggled. With Matthew and Son, the station director didn’t rate it so I asked him to play it for a week and give it a chance, which he did. On one day alone it sold 80,000 copies. We recorded it in six hours including the “B” side and it has stood the test of time. John Paul Jones played bass on it and the bass is very prominent. Clem Cattini played drums, and I knew Clem from way back, when he was with The Tornadoes.

By this time, Hurst’s lifestyle had long changed for the better. He and Marjorie were able to move to a large and well-appointed house at Henley on Thames in those early days of success. The obligatory housewarming took place. Those present at the party included Simon Dee, David Frost, Manfred Mann, Cat Stevens, Paul and Barry Ryan. The guests were issued with cans of spray paint and as it was Halloween, everyone was encouraged to paint on the walls, since the place was going to be restored and re-decorated. He was still only 25 years old.

MH: The funny thing is, I have always been reticent about things – about me – and about people who are interested in me, but I am sure that I have always been able to face life and have never really backed away from anything, however young and inexperienced I was, so the success was not too difficult to handle, even at a young age and perhaps that had something to do with my mother and her theatrical background.
From then on I was producing records non-stop and doing work with people like P.P. Arnold, The Alan Bown Set, Spencer Davis and Manfred Mann, who I did Mighty Quinn with and Colin Blunstone who I did the remake of She’s Not There with.
Blunstone is on record as saying he wanted the “Mike Hurst Sound” and they made four or five singles together, none of which charted. 

MH: The first session of The First Cut is the Deepest, with P.P. Arnold, she was out of it. She was so drugged that there was going to be nothing usable so I sent her home. But she was great after that, and that was down to Andrew Oldham. He sorted all his artists out, even though he always got stoned as well.

Hurst turned the odd success or two down, famously, Gilbert O’Sullivan, and particularly The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

MH: This tall gangly guy came in, with long hair and a beard. He’d written this song and would I listen to it. He had a piano player with him so the guy sat down at the keyboard and the guy with the long hair and the beard said, “I’ve just got to put my gear on”. So I thought he was going to change clothes. He went out and came back in about two minutes later with a metal cup strapped to his head. So I said, ok, off you go then. And the piano starts the first bars of Fire, and as he does, Arthur Brown strikes a match, lights the cup on the top of his head and it bursts into flames. Arthur is singing “Fire, ba ba ba” and his hair started smouldering and smoking and I was dying! I had tears running down my face. When he finishes the song, Arthur says, “So. What do you think?” and I said, “Arthur, It’s the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life”. He said, “Do you want to sign me?” and I said, sorry Arthur, I can’t. It’s just not for me. Three months later, it’s number one. What can you say?

Manfred Mann were a band for whom pop success was something of an albatross around their necks because they wanted to play the blues, something they later did as The Blues Band, apart from Manfred himself who was very laid back about it all.

MH: Tom McGuinness and Mike Hugg wanted to do the blues but the fact is they were a pop/rock band. Manfred was incredible. He was the most laid back character I have ever come across. You went into a session, from the day before or the week before and he’d taken the master tapes home and lost them. So life was quite strange. He’d sit there and read the paper most of the time as well. I didn’t want to do Mighty Quinn. They came to me and asked if I would produce it and I listened to the Bob Dylan demo and it was horrible. I didn’t think there was a hit in it. I could not hear anything in the song. Manfred persuaded me to do it, and I was doing an album with them anyway (Mighty Garvey), so I agreed to do Mighty Quinn and it was number one everywhere in 1968. They had a sound a bit like the Byrds, with Tom McGuinness’ National Steel guitar. I tried to make it sound more American. It was after all, a Dylan song. It could have been a mistake because of course they are English, apart from Manfred, who is South African, but as it turned out, it wasn’t a mistake. Klaus Voorman did the flute on it as well as playing bass. In retrospect the song had a great hook.
In 1967 Hurst met someone who was to remain a friend and musical colleague up until the present day, Ray Fenwick. Fenwick had joined Spencer Davis and later went on to work with members of Deep Purple, including touring with the Ian Gillan band. Fenwick also has a distinguished rock and music CV.
Ray Fenwick: I first met Mike when The Spencer Davis group were recording an album called With Their New Face On and the single that Mike was doing was Mr Second Class. And all these years later we are incredibly good friends. Mike’s a fabulous producer. He’s top dollar, but he’s very modest. When I first heard I love My Dog, that was such an original, great record and then he came up with Matthew and Son, also a great record. He produced The Four Tops and it is one of my Mike Hurst favourites. He did For Your Love and it’s such a good version.

After Matthew and Son, Hurst’s relationship with Cat Stevens began to go downhill. Stevens was not even 20 years old, Hurst was 24. It was not so much a mature diversity of opinion but a function of youthful ego and testosterone. 

MH: You get one 18/19 year-old youngster who is now the talk of the town, who everybody wants to know, and equally so, you have a 24 year-old producer who thinks he’s the bees knees and the answer to everything and when those two things clash you have problems. I could have handled those problems if I had been older and understood more about life, but I was a bull in a china shop. Steve got his brother David involved. They came in for a meeting with me and Chris Brough and it kicked off. David pointed at Chris and said, “I know where you get your money from” and then looked at me and said, “Where do you get your money from?” I just looked at him for a moment and I said, “I know what you are saying. You think I am taking your brother’s money. Well I’ll tell you something. You see that guitar in the corner? If you are not out of here in ten seconds I am going to whack that around the back of your head.”

David Georgiou did leave the room, but a law suit followed. In the middle of this, Hurst and Stevens were churning out hits. I’m Gonna Get Me a Gun seems appropriate. Stevens wanted to sever the management/producer relationship with Mike Hurst and legal proceedings began during the production of the New Masters album, which saw the nadir of their relationship. Stevens attributed the lack of success of New Masters to Hurst’s production, a testimony to the breakdown in relations and the intractability of Stevens’ contract with Deram/Decca. One of the tracks, The First Cut is the Deepest was recorded by P.P. Arnold, also produced by Hurst around the same time. (Stevens reputedly sold the song to Arnold for £30). It subsequently became a hit for Arnold and launched her solo career, with Hurst’s homage to Phil Spector production values and his passion for the kind of soul vocal that he’d shared with Dusty, and has been covered almost every decade since. The Stevens version sank without trace, and indeed, since New Masters appeared after the P.P. Arnold hit, Stevens’ version was technically a cover. It is obvious that Cat Stevens needed to move on, regardless of the personal tensions and the contract with Deram. He joined Island Records and went on to make Mona Bone Jakon, which represented a major departure from the orchestrated hits like Matthew and Son, and the rest, as they say, is history. Somebody has to give you a break. Somebody has to believe in you when nobody else does and it was Hurst who gave Cat Stevens his break. No label would have given him the artistic freedom he needed at that time had there not been some chance that he was a marketable commodity.

The Hurst/Stevens divorce took place in court and like most divorces was messy and nasty. It was also the point when one of the most artistically creative decades of the Twentieth Century was drawing to a close. Cat Stevens did not want Hurst to manage him anymore and that formed the basis of the court appearance.

MH: Steve had Oscar Beuselinck, a former MI6 agent and big shot showbiz lawyer, who was the father of Singer and Actor, Paul Nicholas and I got Andrew Loog Oldham’s lawyer. And this lawyer said, “Whatever you do, don’t lose your temper and don’t say anything”. But Oscar Beuselinck gets up and says that his client asserts that Mr Hurst has not furthered his career. When he said that I didn’t keep quiet. I looked at the judge and said, “Ask him, ask him what his client was making three years ago. He was earning £15 pounds a week in his dad’s restaurant and now he’s earning five grand a week”. Then Beuselinck went on to say that his client was a minor when the contract was signed and that the parents did not understand English when they signed on his behalf, which was just a lie. But I lost the case. The joke was, we had to go on recording together because that was the one thing they could not get out of, the contract with Deram. It was not much fun.
As the decade was coming to an end, Mike Hurst was writing songs again. In 1969, and once again, Hurst was signed as an artist with Capitol, in the USA. A solo album called Home was forthcoming, Billboard and Cashbox gave it great reviews and a US tour followed. Hurst was writing a lot of songs and second album, In My Time was produced. Both had an extensive roster of fine musicians, including: Jon Lord, Ian Paice (Deep Purple), Tony Ashton, Dee Murray, Ray Cooper, Nigel Olsson (Elton John Band), Rod Argent (Zombies and Argent), Ray Fenwick (Spencer Davis, Gillan), BJ Cole, Chris White and Doris Troy.

Mike Hurst's all time favourite tracks:

Be Bop a Lula – Gene Vincent
An amazing production. You have to consider what equipment it was made on and the time it was made (1956); we are almost talking about straight to disc. It’s crystal clear, crisp and clean as a bell. I don’t know who produced it.  There are no credits on the record. If you compare it to most of the stuff that came out then it’s streets ahead. His vocal is a bit over emotional here and there, but that’s Gene Vincent. But the band, the sound of the band, they couldn’t have been split up, there must have been so much overspill all the time, so it is just a great recording that stands up today.

Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
I was in Holland with Cat Stevens and we were being driven to a gig and a radio interview in Hilversum. We had the car radio on and they said they were going to give the first play of The Beach Boys and Good Vibrations. And as soon as they said that I asked the driver to pull over. I was staggered. It’s a bit like a piece of classical music because you have so many different movements – I mean, the whole thing changes, about six times – before then people said you couldn’t make records like that, you couldn’t make records where the rhythm changed, or everything dropped out and there was nothing but vocals. People would never have done that because they would have said it was un-commercial. It’s Brian Wilson’s brilliance. It’s one of the two or three classic records of all time. In thirty or forty years’ time someone will still be playing Good Vibrations, and what a thing to leave behind you. Brian Wilson can do a live show and just reel off the hits. There is only one other person that can do that and that’s McCartney. Wilson hit the peak with Pet Sounds, and of course Good Vibrations came out of the Pet Sounds sessions.

River Deep, Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner
I know Tina from the past. I always thought she was a remarkable woman with a remarkable voice. When that came out, and the fact that Ike wasn’t even on the records is neither here nor there, but teaming her up with Phil Spector was when Spector reached his peak as well. People look back and say it was the Ronettes, but River Deep and that record jumped out and hit everyone between the eyes. There is a lot of energy in that record. There’s a symphonic quality to it and I bet Gershwin would have liked it.

The Price of Love – The Everly Brothers
The Everlys had broken up and come back together again and it was their change of record labels; they went to Warner Bros. It’s the kick drum! It’s incessant and powerful. It’s simple compared to the last two choices, but that was their peak and a recognition that they were in the Sixties. They never followed it up because they broke up again shortly after. I played a gig or two with Phil. I was in a club called the Pickwick Club and the manager of the club introduced me to Phil Everly. This was 1964. We sat down and had a drink. Gordon Waller of Peter and Gordon was with us as well. Then the house manager asked Phil if he would come up and sing with the Pickwick’s house band, the Peddlars. So Phil said, “Don’s not here. We don’t see eye to eye at the moment, so it would be tough”. I piped up and said I knew all the songs and the harmonies, and Phil said “ok, yes”, and we did Bye Bye Love and Wake Up Little Susie and Bird Dog and they gave us a bottle of champagne and asked us back the next night. And we went back every night for the week and did the Everly brothers with Mike Hurst.
(Live version)

Mas Que Nada – Sergio Mendez
It’s a little bit of Brazil. The singing is good. He had a couple of girl singers. It just makes me feel happy when I listen. There is some lovely piano playing on it.

Walk on By – Dionne Warwick
One of the great romantic records of all time for me. Bacharach and David: what can you say about them that has not already been said? It’s the sort of song which, if you are in love or desperately in love and things don’t work you know that the song is what it is all about. It has the wistfulness, the loneliness. Opening lines of songs, like “If you see me walking down the street” – you know what is happening straight away. And if you think that the same lyricist did Magic Moments for Perry Como, it’s amazing how somebody moved on from that.

Sea Train – Sea Train
I still don’t really know who Sea Train were. It’s, again, crystal clear. The stereo mix is beautiful, a very clever record; classical music, rock music, effects – it’s just got it all. It’s a collective of blues players, but whoever Sea Train were, they moved on from that. There’s Bach fugue in there, electric violin, used like a guitar is sensational. The production is crisp and clear. It’s sparse as well. There are places where there is just a bass. They place the instruments in various parts of the soundscape which nobody does anymore because  they listen to them on iPods.

Lucretia McEvil – Blood, Sweat and Tears.
It’s fusion music; jazz, soul and rock. Blood Sweat and Tears were essentially a group of student musicians who were experimenting with music but it was all tied around one person, David Clayton Thomas, the lead singer. It’s the soul in his voice.

I’d like to get to know you – Spanky and Our Gang
I played this to somebody last night and they said it sounds a bit like the Mamas and the Papas, and yes it does except that the Mamas and the Papas didn’t sing in key! Only in America could you have a girl called Spanky MacFarlane. It’s pure Sixties. It’s the Flower Children and the happiness of the 1960’s before it all broke apart in ’68. It has a lot of meaning for people who were there. It’s very American. “Glee” could do that.

Lovin’ Spoonful – Nashville Cats.
Well, John Sebastian is a great songwriter. It points the way to so many American bands who have had the advantage of Country Music.

We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel
All of his are so different. When he did “We didn’t start the Fire” he’d never done anything like that. It’s a kind of history lesson in song.

Black Velvet – Alana Miles
That’s my, or rather her homage to Elvis, because it’s the story of Elvis Presley. She talks about the “little boy with the smile”. It’s a moody track, very, very moody. I don’t know what happened to her after that. It’s a bluesy record and not a commercial homage to Elvis.

(Mike Hurst finished his selection there. I observed that he had not included any of his hits, either as producer or performer and asked him if he would.)
Of all the records, it is probably not Cat Stevens even though Matthew and Son, the album was a high point. I could say happily that eight or nine of them would have stood up as singles.
But for me, because it has become the classic song that is a hit every 15 years or so is First Cut is the Deepest.  I first recorded it with Cat Stevens, then PP Arnold.  And of course since then, Rod Stewart has covered it and also Cheryl Crow. Every time I hear a cover version or the original, I think, OK, I have done something right here.

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