Take The Last Train From Meeksville: Joe Meeks’s Holloway Road recording studio 1963-7

Writer and record producer Irwin Chusid called Joe Meek “The Ed Wood of Lo-Fi”[1] and Andy Partridge of XTC commented, “Meek spoke to the dead and heard music from other planets, making number one hit records in his kitchen.”[2]

Joe Meek made some great records although I would argue they were not always his most famous ones. Try listening to what is probably the last record he made with the Honeycombs, ‘I Can Tell (Something’s Up)’[3] or the great blues instrumental work out on The Tom Tom Cats’ ‘Tom Tom Cat’[4]. There is no evidence that he made music in his kitchen, though almost every other room at 304 Holloway Road became a recording space. As for the Lo-Fi question: many of Meek’s recordings still sound quite impressive though his style was certainly unconventional for the time. What his peers may have seen as heretical is often now considered standard practice for modern engineers and producers.

Meek’s early work at Independent Broadcasting Corporation Studios in Portland Place (IBC) and Lansdowne Studios still stands up well.  He knew how to make a recording commercial and was already experimenting with close microphone techniques, compression, artificial delay and reverb. After engineering a string of hits at IBC and Lansdowne and some experimentation at his flat in Notting Hill, he set up his own studio in the Holloway Road under the eponymous ‘RGM’ (Robert George Meek – his real name) record label and later ‘Meeksville’ (a reference to Motown’s ‘Hitsville’ USA).

The Studio

On entering the flat in the Holloway Road from a door at the rear of the ground floor we are faced with a set of stairs to the first floor where there is a bathroom at the top of the stairs. See appendix 2 for floor plans of the building. Turning right along the landing we come to two doors to our left. The first is the living room which houses a sofa and sideboard. Meek’s record player and Lockwood speaker cabinet, records and test pressings are piled in every corner. Through an opening is the kitchen. The second door reveals Meek’s office which faces onto the street. Everywhere there are boxes of tapes or records.

On taking the stairs to the second floor we arrive at the heart of the studio. Again, there is a bathroom at the top of the stairs but this time as we turn toward the front (road side) of the property we find two doorways. One is straight ahead and opens up into a large room (18 ft by 13 ft) with a curtain across the far wall and ‘peg board’ type sound treatment all over. The other opening is to the left into the control room. This room has a door but it is propped open and blocked by cables. The room is full of racks with dials and controls and tables covered in equipment alongside several types of tape recorder arranged along the longest wall. Every inch of the floor is covered with discarded tape and snakes of cable and there are piles of tape boxes and reels on every available surface.

Like any intelligent engineer Meek used every possible space in the flat to record. John Leyton remembers,

“ When I recorded ‘Johnny, Remember Me’, I was in the sitting room behind a little screen. The rhythm section was in the room with me. The violin section was on the stairs, the backing singers were practically in the loo, and the brass section was underneath, on another floor altogether and there was Joe next door, playing his machine like another musical instrument. It was quite bizarre. We did it over and over. Joe wanted plenty of exciting atmosphere in it, and it was a really exhilarating sound with the galloping, driving beat.”[5]

The studio and control room were built by Dave Adams who recalls that: “The studio windows were insulated, and then boards were nailed over them and acoustic tile and drapes [were placed] over the boards…we heard very little outside sound.”[6] Meek, in his audiotape autobiography now released as part of Castle’s ‘Portrait of a Genius’ boxed set, offered his own description:

“The size of an average bedroom. No larger. I’ve covered the walls with acoustic tiles … all the walls except one, which is covered with a thick curtain. This has very good absorbing power, and the studio is extremely dead. The floor is carpeted, and the ceiling is completely covered in tiles. One wall has some tiles missing, and this gives me a certain amount of brightness. But basically it’s completely dead.”[7]

The Control Room

The control room itself evolved over the period between autumn 1960 and Meek’s death in February 1967. In early photographs of the control room the set up is basic. Much of the equipment that features in later pictures and film footage was purchased between 1962 and 1964 with the bulk of the new equipment coming into the studio in 1963. In May of 1964 the documentary records clearly indicate a re-wire of the studio (possibly to stereo). The first studio at Holloway Road featured the modified Lyrec ½ track[8] alongside two EMI machines. He upgraded to an EMI BTR2 full track in February 1963. A further Ampex 300 full track machine was added to the studio in March of the same year with a stereo console of unknown lineage and several stereo tape machines including an Ampex PR10 twin track, a semi-pro machine, which does seem to feature in one photograph replacing the Lyrec. In 1966 it is possible that Meek purchased a multitrack recorder – an Ampex. There is a bill of sale but it only referenced a puzzling set of (serial?) numbers. Ted Fletcher is adamant on the matter, “The 4 track Ampex didn’t survive; that went down the stairs, there was a problem with it and it went down the stairs.”[9]

Others are less sure that there was ever a multi-track machine at Holloway Road, though it is fairly certain that Meek was mixing in and to stereo in the late 1960’s as stereo mixes have survived including an interesting stereo mix of Meeks biggest hit ‘Telstar’[10]. Recent releases of unreleased material from this era have also uncovered stereo mixes of ‘Its Hard to Believe’ by Glenda Collins, ‘You Took My Love For Granted‘ and ‘I Got’ by Roy Dexter.[11]

The studio[12] almost certainly had a major re-build in this period and I have concentrated my research on this later set up where the EMI BTR2 and Ampex 300 had replaced the EMI TR series machines and Meek had rack mounted much of his new outboard alongside existing mixers, amplifiers and compressors This incarnation of the control room looks quite well laid out, with a row of two and possibly three 19” rack mount units at the front of the space (against the wall adjoining the studio itself). The tape machines, except for the Lyrec, which is mounted vertically in the left hand rack, are all along the left hand wall of the room. Fletcher sites the Tannoy speaker (in a Lockwood cabinet) in the rear corner diagonally opposite the door. Despite the unfamiliarity of this speaker position for modern engineers who are used to having monitors facing them it is not out of step with professional practice at the time. According to Fletcher

“As you went in the door on the left hand side was a BTR 2, in the corner was the Lockwood and the floor was that thick in tape, and in bits of tape. You literally had to walk/wade through tape. There were trestle tables with gear on”[13].

Fletcher also remembers the standard set up in the studio which occupied the entire width of the flat and the front part of the 2nd floor:

“The drums were pretty well straight ahead as you went through the door; over the far side of the room was the piano, but that was sort of behind a screen, to the left in the corner was the vocal mic, and sort of kicking around the middle were whatever guitar amps were needed and stuff like that – always everything covered by cloths and blankets and very heavily damped.” [14]


Meek owned a stock of around 20 microphones: half of which were condensers, the remainder being 3 – 4 ribbon microphones and half a dozen dynamic types.

Meek describes his microphones thus:

“The main microphones are two (Neumann) U47s (Though Fletcher remembers only one working properly after one was dropped). I think this is a marvellous microphone, and I use it for all my vocalists. It has a very good characteristic for close work; that is for vocalists and instruments you need a lot of presence on. To help this I use a small piece of foam plastic; this stops pops and bangs when a vocalist is working close to it. I did have a stereo condenser mic, the Neumann SM2, but this has broken down on me. I believe it has a habit of doing this. First one side went, then the other, and to be quite truthful I haven’t mended it recently because it didn’t stand out more than the other microphones I use. The others are AKG microphones-dynamic types that are very popular today – I have about six of those. I have also a couple of Reslos: I use one on the bass drum, and, sometimes for a vocal group, working on both sides of it. Really the microphones aren’t all that expensive, but they’re very efficient. Being such a small studio they’re used very close to the instruments.”[15]

Using the technique Ted Fletcher has described (see below), with the range of microphones, mixers and outboard available in the mid 1960’s at Holloway Road, small ensembles would have been comfortably accommodated.

Meek rarely if ever recorded backing tracks in one take. Those who were there at the time remember him recording the backing band (Drums, Bass, Guitars, and sometimes Keyboards) either together or one by one, bouncing between the Lyrec and the TR’s or the BTR2. The strings, brass and finally keyboard or guitar solos would follow this in a third or fourth (or more if the rhythm track had been multi-tracked) pass recorded onto a clean track on the Lyrec. This way Meek could manage without much sub mixing for the smaller ensembles. The lead vocal could be added along with another overdub to the ‘rhythm’ or ‘orchestral’ track. The ability to get this right whilst mixing ‘on the fly’ underlines Meek’s technical prowess.

Microphone and line amplifiers were plentiful as almost all the equipment at Holloway Road had both microphone and line inputs built in (even the spring reverbs). He also had the capacity to introduce compression, equalisation and effects on the individual microphone inputs and between the mixers and the tape machines. Meek would have also been able to mix in effects tracks as he bounced tracks between machines. The complement of outboard included 7-9 channels of compression, 12 channels of equalisation, one fairly slow (assuming Meek had not modified it) noise gate and several effects including at least 2 spring reverbs, the Vortexion for delays and at least one if not two echo chambers.

Despite appearances, the studio worked well and sounded very good with a reasonable level of background noise[16]. Connections were not always of the highest standard however, and Meek was known to join bare wires together.

Much has been made of Meek’s technical ability but he was not a trained electrical engineer. He had enough knowledge gleaned from his first jobs at Curry’s and the Midlands Electricity Board fixing domestic electronics and his time with the RAF as a Radar Operator in order to allow him to service and maintain his equipment and to modify or build units from existing designs.  Fletcher comments:

“His knowledge was very basic, very minimal, he was Mr repair man. He could hang things together but he had no real understanding of impedance, though he did know about matching which he learnt in the forces. Stuff that was in the studio worked generally and he could get it going if it didn’t.”[17]

Recording Techniques

Meek has described his approach to making multitrack recordings of a small group (Drums, Bass, Guitars and Vocals) thus:

“ The main machine is a Lyrec twin-track. I usually record the voice on one track, and the backing on the other. The other recorder is a TR51. This I use for dubbing. The artiste has his microphone, a U47, in the corner of the studio, screened off from the rest of the musicians. He can sing his heart out, without anyone taking notice of him. He’s going on a separate track. The bass is fed in direct, the guitars have microphones in front of the amplifiers, and the drum kit has two or three microphones placed around it. Each musician has been given the chord sequence for a song, or has been listening to a record downstairs on my player, and dotted down the chords. Then we go ahead and we record until I have a very good track. I’m not worried if the artiste is in tune, or phrasing properly, I want a good rhythm track for the A-side. We do the same for the B-side, and then its all for the backing group. Off they go, and then I dub the artistes voice on again. I listen to the tracks we’ve already got…sometimes they’re good enough, but as a rule, he wears headphones and the tracks played back to him, and its dubbed onto my TR51. So we have voice and rhythm tracks.”[18]

Note that the vocal is dubbed whilst recording and mixing it with the backing track to fresh tape on the EMI TR51 tape recorder. This allowed Meek the freedom to bounce this mixed track back to one side of the Lyrec adding more overdubs with minimum generation loss.

In the later incarnation of the control room set up the technique remained the same, at least to begin with. Peter Miller who worked as a guitarist with Meek remembers:

“He only had two machines. All he could do was ping-pong between two machines, which he did a lot. He would very often get the band recorded onto the Lyrec, which was usually his first machine. He would put the band on one track, and put the vocal on the second track. The vocal track would also include maybe a guitar track or solo sax or something else, whatever lead instrument wasn’t playing at the same time as the vocal. And then he would mix that onto his EMI BTR2, mono, one track. And at that time, he’d do the mix he would add anything else he wanted, either another track, or effects processing.”[19]

Ted Fletcher has a later variation, which seems a very elegant solution, giving arguably better quality:

“The technique he used most of the time while I was there was to lay down the backing track on the full track of the BTR2 so that the recording occupied the full quarter-inch in mono. He would then remove the tape and put it on the Lyrec machine where he would erase one half. There would still be the original backing track on one half of the tape and he would add to that either the lead voice or backing vocal on the other half of the track. He would then mix the backing track and the vocal track together live while he was recording another part and send the three elements back to the BTR2, live in mono on full track. If he had everything he wanted by then, he would do a final mixdown with additional compression and EQ.”[20]

Again this allowed Meek to keep bouncing and adding tracks until he was happy with the song and would finally mix it in mono on the EMI BTR for mastering.

These techniques allowed Meek to bounce with minimum degradation creating mixes of 4,8,12 and even sixteen or more tracks. His ability to mix live ‘on the fly’ and direct to mono, which he presumably learnt at IBC recording Radio Luxembourg programmes, allowed him to record more tracks without destructive amounts of generation loss. This made his records stand out against the more conventional sounding releases from the major labels.

Listening to some of Meek recordings over this period the distortion from multiple bounces and large amounts of very fast compression (he is said to have modified his compressors to increase attack and release times[21]) is obvious in its effect on the sound. It is therefore clear that Meek had an understanding of the punch needed in his mix sound before the music he made was squeezed through the less than perfect industrial production process onto vinyl and then onto a Dansette or Jukebox. As EMI’s Harry Moss puts it:

“We made records so that they could be played on a Dansette, and we used to argue that instead of making our records inferior to suit an inferior machine, we should tell Dansette to make better players or just go out of business.”[22]


Drum microphones were placed very close to the instruments. The kick drum’s front skin was removed with the Reslo[23] or AKG D12 microphone contained in a cardboard box, heavily damped with blankets and pillows. The ‘kit’ microphones were nestled amongst the drums and covered with blankets. The snare and toms were also damped with sheets of material. Bobby Graham remembers “Joe was always dabbling with effects. We replaced the snare drum skins with heavy taught cloth to give a tom-tom effect.”[24]

According to John Repsch, drummer Clem Cattini took a chance by looking under the blankets one day,

“Drum sounds were a speciality. People had been marvelling at the peculiar percussive noises he got ever since his IBC days when he committed heresy, dismantling bass drums to put microphones inside. Now, as then, it was still a hush-hush affair, and anyone asking about it met with a stony silence. One such secret was at last revealed when one-day drummer Clem Cattini dared peep inside. The outside skin had already been removed, showing a drum full of pillows and blankets which had been tightly packed into it; snugly wrapped amongst all these and held firmly against the inner skin where the foot pedal strikes was a small cardboard box. Nicely cellotaped inside this miniature echo chamber the microphone.”[25]

Meek hardly used cymbal or overhead microphones although Ted Fletcher can remember him experimenting with his home made Omni condensers as overheads.[26]

The Holloway Road drum sound is characterised by a ‘boxy’, dead, kit sound – in fact he is known to have asked drummers to play their cases or replace drums with dustbin lids for sessions. With only a sprinkling of high hat and cymbals, the snare and toms are damped and dead and often lose all their attack. A good example of this is the Honeycombs’ Have I the Right[27] where the foot stomping and microphone-crunching tambourine (played by Guy Fletcher)[28] have masked much of the original drum sound leaving a distinct ‘ring’ from one of the toms. Meek often added percussion as overdubs to make up for the lack of hi-hat or cymbals in the drum recordings.

Meek is also renowned for being one of the first engineers to directly inject the bass guitar (helping immensely with separation in such a small space) and to build a device to accentuate the percussive sound of the bass. As Meek describes:

“I feed the electric bass through an equaliser unit. On this unit I experimented and I feed the output back. Its possible to get feedback this way, but when you put through a choke it gives you the effect of a string being plucked.[29] This sounds effective on recordings.”[30]

Together bass and drums produce a percussive low-end rumble that underpins the Meek sound. Fletcher remembers the excitement produced by a Meek backing track:

“I remember thinking at the time, he was trying to achieve an effect of excitement by leaving holes in the middle. The backing track was really punchy, these days we would assume he was using gates on the drums, but of course he wasn’t using gates, just very close mic’ing and very high damping. When we heard the backing tracks for our own records with the Cameos, we thought ‘wow’ the backing tracks are fantastic. They were so punchy.”[31]

Meek was also known to build up rhythm tracks instrument by instrument. As Chas Hodges remembers:

“It was the first time I ever saw someone who was like magic. We all did our own little instrumental bits. There was a good bass in the first take and a not so good bass bit in the second one, but a good drum bit in that one. He just took the best bit out and the best drum bit, best rhythm guitar bit. All on separate takes and he put them on one take.”[32]

But one should not forget that the pop of Meek’s era was dominated by one instrument and, despite his obsession with the futuristic sound of the Clavioline[33], guitars feature on many of Meek’s recordings. Again his approach was to place microphones very close to the grilles (Vox AC 30 or WEM combos) on the speaker cabinet. As Fletcher describes:

“It’s the fact that if you mic something close enough, you can turn all the gains down, so you don’t hear anything else, nothing particularly clever about it. He used to like people to play loud, but when you play loud there is a lot of energy, and he captured that. The guitar amps were loud but covered with blankets; you had to lift the blankets off every now and gain so they didn’t catch fire!”[34]

According to Barry Cleveland “some of England’s best guitarists played on (Meek) sessions, including “Big Jim” Sullivan, Steve Howe, Roger Hall, Peter Miller, Jimmy Page, and Ritchie Blackmore, who was Meek’s first-call guitarist between 1962 and 1965.”[35]


The Joe Meek vocal sound is another of the outstanding qualities of his recordings. Meek describes the signal path:

“The vocal mic goes through a little ‘cooker’ I’ve made, that has got bass, top and middle lift in it. It was originally a small amplifier. It has three channels, so I can mix in a vocal group with it, and possibly a front-line instrument. It’s quite handy, I can mix without having to walk around the control room too much.”[36]

The ‘Cooker’ (an old RCA pre-amp) was used as both a vocal equaliser and as a sub mixer for backline instruments and backing vocals.

Meek’s use of close microphone techniques also extended to the singers and backing vocalists. Ted Fletcher remembers:

“The vocal mic, which was stuck in one place always – it was fixed in the same place, was suspended on a huge, great industrial mic stand. And the U47 was swathed in foam rubber until the head of the mic was actually as big as a football. It was swathed in pop shields, and the approved method was to sing so that your nose was just about touching the pop shield. You had to get very close, present sound, and that’s how he did it.”[37]

Final vocal tracks were generally recorded as an overdub whilst the vocal and backing ‘rhythm’ track were mixed together live (often alongside a guitar solo or other lead instrument overdub). Meek occasionally also laid down guide vocals (or even more rarely a lead vocal) directly to the ‘spare’ track on the Lyrec when recording backing tracks. Singers generally worked using headphones, though Fletcher also remembers using a tiny Tannoy (“the type used for announcements”) during backing-vocal sessions with the Cameos.[38]

Meek is known to have monitored loudly on playback. This was a habit he acquired during back-to-back sessions at Lansdowne Studios. He would however, have had to have kept the level very low whilst tracking at Holloway Road as the doors between the Control Room and the Studio could not be closed properly due to the cables running between the rooms. The limited supply of headphones would probably have been reserved for the lead singer, the string or brass players on tracking sessions and the singer and guitarist or other soloist for overdubs.

The Meek Sound

Meek’s sound changed over his career, but the sound that became his trademark with recordings such as Telstar is distinguished by its marked compression and equalisation. Fletcher takes the subject further. When asked about the particularly big ‘hole in the middle’ that is a feature of Meek recordings particularly in the first few years at Holloway Road he says:

“I think it was the fact that he was working too fast, he wasn’t thinking. Some of his stuff was awful. What he did maintain was beautiful quality vocal sounds – he did manage that always. Mind you I don’t think it was particularly hard to do, if you’ve got a U47 and even a Vortexion – that mic amp in the Vortexion is absolutely fine. The U47 straight into a mic amp, an Altec compressor and on to the BTR2 or the Lyrec; its going to sound good.”[39]

Much of the control room layout is still a matter of conjecture. We do know he had a disc cutter, which came from Advision and there is plenty of equipment on the lists from the company records and the sale after Meek’s death that would, in all probability, have been assigned some space in the control room. Fletcher remembers the Vortexion being located on the landing used to provide delay effects and there are photographs, which locate most of the new outboard (Compressors by Altec, the Fairchild rack and spring reverb detailed in the equipment list in Appendix 1.). It is clear that Meek had also improved the ergonomics of the control room with patch bays and rack mounting for much of the equipment from the original studio.

Meek’s favourite outboard still seems to have been centred around two ‘legendary’ black boxes. A BBC limiter that Meek himself describes as “30 years old” and a home made valve unit (possibly in the style of a Langevin compressor / limiter) that may have been similar to the unit he made at Lansdowne in 1958 which is now in the possession of Adrian Kerridge. According to Fletcher:

“There was a valve compressor there which was always ‘in’. It had no covers on it, exposed valves and a bit of chassis, and he bunged everything through it as a matter of course so that everything was compressed every time it went through it! Which was generally between three and four times.”[40]

It is generally agreed that beside these two units Meek also favoured the Altec compressors. As for the Fairchild units, these may have been less of a success. Fletcher recounts:

“ All I remember is that they were the little modular things that fitted into a rack; they were very elementary, very simple things with one or two knobs on the front and a vertical edgewise meter. They sounded not very good actually; I don’t think they were much use! The main compressors he used were the valve ones.”[41]

These primitive Fairchild optical circuits may have inspired Meek to take them apart and make his own versions. Ted Fletcher remembers building some prototypes with Meek, which inspired Fletcher’s Joe Meek company some years later.

Wet & Dry

Another of the enduring technical legacies of the ‘Meek sound’ is his use of artificial reverb on dry signals recorded with microphones very close to a sound source in a very dead room. There is disagreement from Meek collaborators and associates as to whether Holloway Road ever-contained a dedicated ‘echo chamber’.[42] Ted Fletcher is adamant:

“Yes it did exist; it was a room up the top in the flat – an empty room, and it was an echo chamber. I don’t think it was very successful but it did work and it was there.”[43]

However Ted’s brother Guy contradicts this:

“Joe used the tiled bathroom in his flat as an echo chamber, with a speaker at one end and a mic at the other…”[44]

Meek himself adds to the debate:

“Above my Control Room I have a room that I’ve made into an echo chamber. It’s quite remarkable for the size of it; it gives me a great echo sound, which is on all my records.”[45]

The room Meek mentions does exist and is also the room, which is supposed to have housed the Holloway Road tape-library. It may be that Meek simply ran out of room upstairs and had no choice but to use the bathroom or that he simply wanted two different sounding chambers. Dave Adams who helped Meek build the studio at 304, does not remember an echo-chamber and other Meek collaborators are sure that he never used the bathroom to record. However Screaming Lord Sutch was clear about this when interviewed in 1991: “I Needed a bit of echo. So he takes this long lead and I ended up in the toilet…”[46]

It is likely that Holloway Road did have an echo chamber as described by Meek and others. It would not have been hard to set up with what he had to hand. It is also quite possible that the 2nd floor bathroom at Holloway Road was used as an echo chamber and a recording space. As Cleveland points out the evidence is there for all to hear:

“Nonetheless, the sound of an echo chamber can be heard clearly on nearly every recording made at 304 Holloway Road, so a room was used for that purpose…”[47]

The Sound of Space

Meek’s favourite effects were reverb (springs as well as chambers for vocals and overdubs) and tape delay for guitars and it is obvious that he also heavily compressed guitar parts and sometimes used distortion. As Cleveland explains:

“Many of Meek’s recordings feature heavily distorted guitar tones that would have given the teenage Hendrix pause, beginning with the supersaturated pedal-steel sound on the Blue Men’s ‘The Bublight’ (1959), through to the ultra-fuzzy riff on Jason Eddie & the Centremen’s ‘Singing the Blues’ (1966), which also sported a truly bizarre run-away-delay part.”[48]

The hundreds of recordings Meek made in the 6 years at Holloway Road range from Pop to Gothic, Country & Western, Blues, Flower Power (The Bystanders ‘She Comforts My Sorrows’[49]) or plain Rock – Birds of Prey’s ‘City Lights’[50] alongside his trademark instrumentals and ‘pretty boy’ singers with their odes to dead American singing stars.

Strings and brass also feature on Meek’s recordings, particularly in the later years (The Cryin’ Shame’s ‘Nobody Waved Goodbye’[51] is a good example) and he again has his own particular approach to recording these instruments:

“Sometimes [we] use four strings, never any more; four violins, perhaps a French horn, and a harp. Sometimes a choir, perhaps three girls. The method I use for recording strings is to have a microphone pretty close to them. The four of them sit [in opposing pairs], and then I delay the signal with the [third] head of the Vortexion. I feed this back in again, which adds a reflection that gives you eight strings. On this I put my echo-chamber sound and also some of my electronic echo. After I’ve finished, I’ve ended up dubbing from my TR51 onto [one track of] the Lyrec. [And after recording the orchestra on the Lyrec’s second track] I have the extra orchestra on one side, and the voice and the [rhythm] track on the other.”[52]

Ted Fletcher remembers that Meek particularly favoured the stairs and hallway between the first and second floors for both strings and backing vocals (the ‘choir’ as Meek referred to it). This allowed him to get some isolation from the rhythm section as well as adding the natural reverberation provided by the stairwell (A technique that has been used by the Rolling Stones among many others). Fletcher says:

“The most echoey space was the stairwell, which really was quite echoey because it was a three-story building, quite open with lots and lots of hard surfaces, it was very reverberant.”[53]

The brass players may have also used the hallway or the living room to record, though Meek must have used speakers or headphones to provide ‘fold back’ to the musicians.

The separation that Meek achieved was partly down to the amount of damping and screening he used (using wooden screens and old army blankets) along with the close microphone technique and the use of direct inputs. Meek may have directly injected keyboards although most of the keyboards at 304 had their own speakers and they are just as likely to have been picked up with an AKG D19 or something similar. The piano would simply have had a microphone popped into the top of the body above the hammers. Meek’s was a player piano from which he had removed the mechanical part leaving plenty of space for a close microphone.

Arranger Ivor Raymonde, who worked on string sessions with Meek, describes the amount of separation between microphones that he could achieve:

“There were some sessions where he got fed up using these group musicians, and I did quite a few records with him with what we called a ‘legitimate’ rhythm section; people like Kenny Clare or Ronnie Verrell, Jim Sullivan on guitar, and so on. And Kenny Clare, I remember this very clearly, he’s a pretty loud drummer and this room was quite a small room. A choir mic was open, the drum mics were open- one on the bass drum, one on the kit tom-kit; there’d be a string mike open – I remember this particular session – there were two trumpets and a trombone; that’s six microphones were open. And I went in to talk to Joe…. And Joe turned off Kenny Clare’s drum mics and not a sound…which technically is almost unbelievable in this tiny room.”[54]

Fletcher concurs: “He was fanatical about separation. Although he couldn’t get good separation really, he was pretty fanatical about it.”[55]

Besides his use of spring reverbs, tape delays and echo chambers Meek was also known to use tape speed as an effect. The recording and / or playback speed of the tape machine could be altered either by using edit tape applied to the capstan or by controlling the tape machines directly using an Oscillator. Fletcher remembers his use of edit tape,

“His favourite trick was edit tape around the capstan, which would have produced some modulation as you couldn’t get the tape perfectly straight – it would always flutter a bit.”[56]

By recording tracks slowly and speeding them back up on playback or by speeding up the playback of the final track in the mix, Meek used speed to add ‘excitement’ and make up for the limited vocal range of some of his singers. He is also known to have experimented with tape flanging. According to Don Charles:

“He was doing phasing [sic][57] on tapes before anybody else was ever doing it. He just slowed the track down; he’d stick his thumb against it…”[58]

It is easy to forget how new and unique Meek’s records sounded at the time they were made. For example he used ‘found sounds’ and early forms of synthesis – the introduction to Telstar and the ‘I Hear a New World’ recordings being notable examples of musical montage. Tape editing gave Meek a range of techniques with which to both correct poor performances and produce a sound that could not be created live. Many of Meek’s records had an ethereal ‘space age’ sound that had simply not been heard in the pop charts before although Meek had plenty of potential sources of inspiration. Films such as ‘Children of the Dammed ‘and’ Forbidden Planet’ were hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s and I am sure the latter film’s award winning soundtrack would not have gone unnoticed.

As for Meek’s ability to ‘produce’ a great record, he certainly attracted both good and bad publicity from critics of the time and caused consternation and anger at the major record companies who were clearly confused and upset by his commercial success. In an interview for Melody Maker Meek was asked, “Don’t you think you are unfair, inflicting your own musical notions on artistes and moulding them all into your style instead of letting them develop naturally?” Meek replied

“No, that’s not really true at all. They all have different styles when they arrive – and they arrive in droves at the door. It’s a mad scene. There are so many singers wanting to work with me. But I don’t mould them into my ideas completely. I just try to cultivate any talent that they have and make them sound commercial. I did that with John Leyton on his early discs, I think. I don’t foist my own plans down their throats, no.”[59]

Fletcher refines the approach:

“It depended who they were, if they were professional, then he would listen. But most of his singers weren’t. In those terms; he would try to make them do what he wanted them to. Which, quite often ended in tears but he would try and stamp his authority on them.”

The work rate was certainly prolific in the late sixties. Fletcher outlines their weekly schedule:

“We would go up for a session on a Tuesday and do a double session; one in the morning and one in the afternoon and it was normal to do the vocal backings on two records. I think he would work on in the evenings editing. We would start the day at 10 am break for lunch at 1pm and then a three-hour session in the afternoon.”[60]

The general consensus is that Meek would make at least three records (6 sides) per week in this period and the amount of material contained in the 69 ‘Tea Chests’ stored upstairs at 304 would certainly support this. He was known to work late into the night and often worked twenty hours a day.

Can you hear it?

In 1967 the studio was probably working in stereo at least some of the time and Meek had mastered the techniques required to get the best from his equipment and environment. Sadly, the hits did not come. He clearly tried a range of different approaches and his later recordings show glimpses of the direction he may have pursued if he had continued to make records. The sound is more ‘stripped down’, less quirky and dramatic (gone are the marches that epitomised his early work) and indicates a direction that would have seen Meek happily produce the rock bands of the late 1960’s and 1970’s.

Meek was a strong if untrained songwriter, a poor musician, but a very clever engineer and talented record producer. He certainly evolved some inventive techniques and approaches to his craft that continue to influence popular music. His approach to recording levels was soon to become the industry benchmark with manufacturers competing to produce tape that could handle more elevated levels. Fletcher remembers the Meek technique:

“The levels on the tape were always 6dB above what anybody else would dare to do and they were distorted and the mastering engineers at the time would criticise him and he wasn’t very happy being criticised. He was a one off professional and he had been around. He had done a lot of work for Radio Luxembourg and he knew what he was doing. He knew how when it came to getting the sound ‘out there’. They certainly never refused to master his records – I don’t think that’s true – but there was a lot of ill feeling. Engineers didn’t like mastering his stuff. They thought that professionally it was just not good, not done, in the same sort of way engineers used to like the faders up the other way and wear brown coats.”[61]

Meek may not, as is often claimed, have been a genius, but he was certainly intelligent, creative and in possession of an enquiring mind. He was also driven and able to think ‘outside the box’. His ability to think laterally and see solutions where others saw only barriers also serve to mark him out as a complex and elusive character.

“You can hear that so much effort was put into it. The equipment used back then was so primitive in today’s terms. When you listen to this you know it’s almost impossible that he could have squeezed any more energy out of the set up he had”.[62]

Ted Fletcher

[1] John McCready, Joe Meek Mojo unedited article from Website, http://www.mccready.cwc.net/meek.html, 21/05/07.

[2] Sterrett B, A Space Man in the Music Industry, http://www.archive.org/details/csr037, 21/05/07.

[3] Disc 4 track 30, Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[4] A side, Starlight, ST 045, 1961.

[5] Lewens L, Repsch J, ‘The Strange Story of Joe Meek’, Arena, BBC TV, 1991.

[6] Cleveland B, Production Values Meek First, Electronic Musician, Feb 1st 2002.

[7] Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[8] A ½ track mono head records one track in one direction and another in the other direction when the tape is flipped over. About 1/3 of the tape width is used by each track and the remaining 1/3 provides a buffer region between the two to prevent cross-talk. A full track records a single track in one direction across the whole width of the tape.

[9] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[10] Track 1 Disc 2, Vampires Cowboys Spaceman & Spooks – The Very Best of Joe Meek’s Instrumentals, Castle, 2007, CMDEDD1456.

[11] Diamond Joe The Sound of Meeksville, Cherry Red, RPM 325, 03/07.

[12] See Diagrams 1-3 below in Appendix 1.

[13] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[14] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[15] Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[16] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[17] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[18] Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[19] Creative Music Production: Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, B Cleveland, Mix Books, 2001, p.131.

[20] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[21] “I’ve heard records he’s done, I know the equipment he had, and he must have modified that kit because those compressors don’t sound like that.” Liam Watson – owner of Toe Rag Studios. James D, Liam Watson & Toe Rag Studios, The White Stripes, Sound On Sound, October 2003.

[22] Cleveland B, Creative Music Production: Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, Mix Books, 2001, p.52.

[23] The D12 is more likely than a Ribbon, which is very fragile, as a bass drum microphone.

[24] Bobby Graham (Drummer with Outlaws) on recording ‘Swingin’ Low’. Creative Music Production: Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, B Cleveland, Mix Books, 2001, p.107.

[25] Repsch J, The Legendary Joe Meek The Telstar Man, Cherry Red Books, 2000.

[26] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[27] A-Side, Pye, 7N 15664, June 1964.

[28] “On the final mix of ‘Have I the Right?’ we were just sort of tickling it up and getting the master ready with Joe late one evening,” Fletcher recalls. “The ‘come right back’ line still wasn’t heavy enough for him. He tried all sorts of things to get this right: we kicked cardboard boxes, hit cardboard boxes with sticks, and in the end, he said, ‘No, Guy [Fletcher’s brother], it’s not loud enough. What you’ve got to do is this.’ And he put an AKG D 19 microphone on a little short stand on the floor and gave a tambourine to my brother and said, ‘Hit the microphone with the tambourine.’ So my brother gently tickled the microphone, and Joe said, ‘No, no — hit it, hit it, hit it!’ During the takes, my brother was smashing this tambourine onto the top of the microphone so hard that he completely destroyed the microphone and the tambourine. There’s a horrible cracking noise on the record, and if you listen carefully, you can hear it.” Cleveland B, Production Values Meek First, Electronic Musician, Feb 1st 2002.

[29] The use of high frequency EQ with a feedback loop would make the dead bass note of a ‘choke’ (dampening a note to shorten it by manually stopping the string vibration) brighter by accentuating the high harmonics through the creation of a resonant harmonic peak and a short ‘ring’. Explanation provided by Richard Liggins, Oct. 2007.

[30] Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[31] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[32] Thunderbolt, No. 49, Joe Meek Society, February 2007,p.14.

[33] The Selmer Clavioline was an early electronic instrument which played the lead line on Meek’s production of the Tornado’s Telstar

[34] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[35] Cleveland B, Uniquely Meek, Guitar Player, July 2005.

[36] Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[37] Creative Music Production: Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, B Cleveland, Mix Books, 2001, p.161.

[38] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[39] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[40] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[41] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[42] Echo was the word used for both reverb and discrete ‘echo’ or delay devices.

[43] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[44] Creative Music Production: Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, B Cleveland, Mix Books, 2001, p.104.

[45] Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[46] Fountain N, The Joe Meeks shall not inherit, Weekend Guardian, February 2nd 1991.

[47] Cleveland B, Production Values Meek First, Electronic Musician, Feb 1st 2002.

[48] Cleveland B, Uniquely Meek, Guitar Player, July 2005.

[49] Disc 4, track 22, Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[50] Disc 4, Track 25, Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[51] A-Side, Decca, F 12425, June 1966.

[52] Joe Meek Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

[53] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[54] Repsch J, The Legendary Joe Meek The Telstar Man, Cherry Red Books, 2000.

[55] Creative Music Production: Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, B Cleveland, Mix Books, 2001, p.161.

[56] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[57] This technique sounds like tape flanging not phasing.

[58] Repsch J, The Legendary Joe Meek The Telstar Man, Cherry Red Books, 2000,P.165.

[59] Repsch J, The Legendary Joe Meek The Telstar Man, Cherry Red Books, 2000 p 187.

[60] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[61] Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007.

[62] McCready J, Joe Meek, Mojo (unedited article), http://www.mccready.cwc.net/meek.html, 21/05/07.


Books/Articles and journals:

Cleveland B, Creative Music Production: Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, Mix Books, 2001.

Cleveland B, Production Values Meek First, Electronic Musician, Feb 1st 2002.

Cleveland B, Uniquely Meek, Guitar Player, July 2005.

Fountain N, The Joe Meeks shall not inherit, Weekend Guardian, February 2nd 1991.

Hands S, Joe Meek: The RGM Legacy – Portrait of A Genius, http://www.musicomh.com/comment/joe-meek_0805.htm, 22/05/07.

James D, Liam Watson & Toe Rag Studios, The White Stripes, Sound On Sound, October 2003.

McCready J, Joe Meek Mojo unedited article from Website, http://www.mccready.cwc.net/meek.html, 21/05/07.

Petridis A, if anything went wrong he’d explode, The Guardian, Feb 7th 2007

Repsch J, The Legendary Joe Meek The Telstar Man, Cherry Red Books, 2000.

Sterrett B, A Space Man in the Music Industry, http://www.archive.org/details/csr037, 21/05/07.

Thunderbolt, No. 49, Joe Meek Society, February 2007.


Ted Fletcher, Interview with Author, 3rd May 2007

TV, Radio and Video:

Lewens L, Repsch J, ‘The Strange Story of Joe Meek’, Arena, BBC TV, 1991.

Robinson T, Pass J, Holloway Dreams The Joe Meek Story, Associated Rediffusion Productions, BBC Radio 2, 06/02/07, 13/02/07, 20/02/07.


Chris Barber, Petite Fleur, A-Side, Pye-Jazz, 7NJ 2026, January 1959.

The Blue Men, I Hear a New World, Triumph, RGX ST5001, May 1960.

The Blue Men with Rod Freeman, I Hear a New World, RPM, 1991.

The Cry’n Shames, Nobody Waved Goodbye, A-Side, Decca, F 12425, June 1966.

Honeycombs Have I the Right, A-Side, Pye, 7N 15664, June 1964.

Humphrey Littleton, Bad Penny Blues, A-Side, Parlophone, R 4184, June 1956.

Tom Tom Cats, Tom Tom Cat, A side, Starlight, ST 045, 1961.

Various Artists: Diamond Joe: The Sound of Meeksville, Cherry Red, RPM 325, 03/07.

Various Artists: Diamond Joe: A Treasure Chest Of Rarities And Collectables From The Sound Of Meeks-Ville, RPM Records, rpm325, February 2007.

Various Artists: The Exceptional Joe Meek (the Missing Recordings & Rarities), Oxford OX-CD HR 304, 1994.

Various Artists: Is that a Ship I Hear?/Do You Come Here Often?, Columbia, R 7984, 1966.

Various Artists: Joe Meek: Portrait of a Genius The RGM legacy, Castle Music UK, UPC: 505015917839, 9/5/2005.

Various Artists: Joe Meek: the Alchemist of Pop (Home Made Hits & Rarities 1959-1966), RGM CMEDD 496, 2002.

Various Artists: Joe Meek, Various, Comfort Stand, csr037, 07/04/04, http://www.comfortstand.com/catalog/037/index.html

Various Artists: Missing Recordings And Rarities: There’s Lots More Where, F Minor, OXCDHR304, 23/05/2005.

Various Artists: They Were Wrong: Joes Boys: Volume1, Castle, CMQDD1457, 05/02/2007.

Various Artists: Vampires Cowboys Spaceman & Spooks – The Very Best of Joe Meek’s Instrumentals, Castle, 2007, CMDEDD1456.

Frankie Vaughn, Green Door, A-Side, Phillips, PB 640, October 1956.

















































































Appendix 1 (Equipment List)

RGM & Meeksville  – 304 Holloway Road


4 channel homemade mono mixer (rotary controls and top boost on each channel – in rack in control room above Vortexion)

(9/1962) Vortexion WVB 4/15/M – 4 channel mono mixer (rack mounted in control room)

(7/1964) 6 channel stereo Mixer – unknown type

Morcom WQ 4572 EDA combining unit (this is a mystery but it sounds like a line level mixer of some kind)


Tannoy Red in Lockwood cabinet x2 (one in control room one in lounge)

Small corner mounted Tannoy cabinet x2 (one used to monitor second output of Lyrec, the other in the echo chamber – Canterbury, York or GRF Tannoy cabinet)

BTH Loudspeaker, ‘A corner loudspeaker’ & National loudspeaker for tape recorder (One of these may be the small speaker Ted Fletcher mentions used as fold back for backing vocals)

Dallas Column speakers (may have been used to monitor later stereo machines or elsewhere in the flat)

AKG (K50) Headphones x3


Quad 22 pre-amps x 2 (both in control room rack)

RCA LM1/322 15A pre-amp

DYNA PAS/2 (USA) stereo pre-amplifier


Quad II valve power amplifiers x4

Lee Products AC88 Amplifier

RCA LM1/322 16 (incomplete)

Dyna power amplifier x2

‘A Power amplifier’ (possibly a homemade unit)

Sagatone Stereo Amplifier

Leak TL 25 amplifiers x2

Tape Recorders:

(9/1960) Lyrec TR16 twin (half) track (7.5, 15, 30 ips) ¼” – Modified to produce synchronous overdubs by Meek (this was in a rack mount and is pictured next to the racks and running in conjunction with the BTR2)

(2/1963) – EMI BTR 2 (¼” full track pictured on the left hand side of the studio next to the Ampex

(9/1960) 2 Head EMI TR 50 full track ¼” (given to Ted Fletcher 1963-4)

(9/1960) 3 Head EMI TR 51 full track ¼” (given to Ted Fletcher 1963-4)

(3/1963) Ampex 300 full track ¼” (pictured on left hand wall against chimney and next to BTR)

(No date but after 1962) Ampex 351 – half track 2 track ¼” (this may have been bought to replace the Lyrec or for stereo mastering)

(No date but after 1962) Ampex PR10 half track ¼” (this is pictured in the control room in place of the Lyrec, it may have been a spare machine as reports are that this was not a great sounding machine and was/is hard to maintain)

Concert portable recorder (probably used for sound effects)

‘Stereo recorder’ (no detail on this)

Ampex 3 or 4 track machine; possibly a Model 300 ½” valve machine. Although it could also have been the AG-440 4-track ¼”or ½”, though this model; which featured solid-state electronics was not introduced until 1967, the mysterious bill from Ampex UK dates the sale as January 10th 1966 (Ted Fletcher is convinced that this machine was a multi-track and was destroyed after Meek threw it down the stairs)


2 x Neumann U47’s and amps (only one worked well – the vocal mic)

1 x Neumann SM2 (Stereo Mic based on KM56 – often broken)

Telefunken NSH condenser mic with amp

1 x Telefunken ELAM 251 with amp (AKG made C12 type capsule – a neutral/ bright sounding mic compared with U47’s ‘warmth’ – there is a picture of the studio with what looks like one of these microphones on a guitar amp)

1 x Telefunken ELAM 250 with amp (earlier version of above)

(9/1962) 2 x ResloSound Ribbons (probably the VTL or VR)

1x ResloSound heavy-duty ribbon (There is some debate on the models. There may have been a heavy duty version that Meek used in Kick drums)

1x AKG D12 (Ted Fletcher is sure Meek had one of these and used it in the kick drum. It could have been confused with the Reslo)

(9/1962) 4 x AKG D19 – 40Hz to 16Khz range (standard dynamic cardioid mic with bass roll off – used on snare and toms/cymbals and guitars)

(9/1962) 2 x AKG D60 (Hyper-cardioid Dynamic – possibly a drum, piano or guitar mic)

1 x RCA variable impedance Dynamic microphone

HMV 235 CH Ribbon (Ted Fletcher’s microphone which was left at the studio – large, classic, radio presenter-style microphone with ‘Nipper’ badge)

(9/1962) Western Electric Ribbon (Probably an Altec 639A and 639B – this is listed as a cardioid but is in fact selectable between pickup patterns depending on the model)

(3/1964) Beyer M61 – Cardioid Microphone with a limited dynamic range 70 Hz – 12KHz (possibly a replacement for the D19 broken recording ‘Have I the Right?)

(3/1964) Beyer M23

2 x Micro Kit Omni Capacitor tube microphones (made by Meek – also used as drum kit microphones on some sessions)


‘Honky Tonk mini player piano’ (with thumbtacks on hammers)

(Selmer) Clavoline & amp/speaker combo (attached to the ‘side’ of the piano)

Hohner Granton Glockenspiel

WEM Fifth Man Unit (experimental Guitar ‘synth’)

(Selmer) Lowrey Organ 2-Manual with 13-note vamp board

Selmer Pianotron (a compact electric piano similar to the Weltmeister Claviset or Hohner Clavinet)

Amplifiers & speaker cabinets for instruments:

Selmer (True Voice) amplifier and speaker

WEM twin loudspeaker cabinet

A ‘similar’ speaker cabinet

WEM AR cool6 amp/speaker combo

WEM Starfinder Series speaker

WEM chrome speaker stands x 2

Univox (Jennings Organ Co. Vox) amp/keyboard loudspeaker (the Univox was an electronic single voice electric organ made by Vox in the 1950’s and designed to be attached to a piano, the organ may have gone ‘missing’ or this item may have been mistakenly listed)

Test/Maintenance equipment:

Range Trecoscope Oscilloscope

Advance J1 Oscillator (these oscillators were used to produce Meek’s famous SFX and to control tape speed as well as to calibrate tape machines)

Advance J2 Oscillator

EMI tape head de-Gausser

Grayshaw valve milli Volt Meter

Ferroraph De-Fluxer

Disc Cutters:

MSS (Marguerite Sound Studios) Disc Cutter (these were ‘midget’ portable machines – used by the BBC during the war – Meeks machine may have been a RDP/1A or a later model)

Simon Sound Services Disc Lathe (this is probably the Disc Cutter from Advision he acquired in October 1965)

(9/1962) Ferranti Disc Cutter

(7/63) ‘Correction unit’  (this may have been an EQ to correct the signal for the disc cutter)


RCA Orthophonic pre-amp (3 inputs, EQ and filters – the ‘cooker’)

EMI 807 and EMI Power Pack 807 3x line amps

BBC Valve Limiter (30 yrs old- 1930’s and no model number – this was often used for vocals)

Dyna Limiter

Homemade compressor (possible an optical device; Fairchild or Langevin style)

(3/1963) Altec 438A – compressor (2u, Grey, Mono Valve unit included microphone amplifier – In rack in control room, fixed settings)

(3/1963) Altec 436B – compressor (2u, Green, Mono Valve unit – in rack in control room, input attenuator; this was the compressor he often used for backing tracks)

(9/1963) Fairchild 660 – limiting amplifier (1/2 rack mono valve limiter – in 2nd rack in control room)

(9/1963) Fairchild 663 – Optical solid-state compressor/limiter (*these units were part of an ‘Integra’ rack mount system 4-8 units deep with units mounted vertically. This rack appears to be in the 2nd 19” rack nearest the door in Meek’s control room)

(9/1963) *Fairchild 661 Auto ten (a fairly slow optical noise gate or ‘noise attenuator’)

(9/1963 & 1/1964) *Fairchild 673 Dynalizer x2 – a dynamic equaliser using Fletcher Munson Loudness curve equalization essentially an automatic loudness control. (Uses the same optical system as 661 and 663)


*Fairchild 665 – Programme Passive equaliser with amplifier this was a combination of the 664 Program EQ (3 band switched frequencies mid band – passive 17dB insertion loss) and the 662 (Preamp/Line Amp (15 to 50dB gain – big output transformer – very grainy)

Racal Compressor and EQ – built by the company for Meek and based on a Altec with a Pultec style EQ

Astrosonic response control unit (9 band Graphic equaliser – pictured above the Lyrec in the control room)

(3/1963) ‘Tone control unit’ (possibly homemade)

(5/1963) ‘Mid Lift control’ (also probably home made; possibly one of the tobacco tin devices mentioned in an early Ted Fletcher interview)

EMI 843 passive Equaliser

EMI 844 passive Equaliser (these units are were very basic; 2 rotary controls and not great according to my sources at EMI)

IBC CU-3H active equaliser with power unit (possibly a Pultec type valve EQ similar to the one he built at Lansdowne, there is a device that looks like a Pultec in early pictures of the studio – pre racks and patch bays)


The homemade spring reverb (fan heater spring)

Fairchild 658 pro-spring reverb – The 658 / 658A “Reverbertron” was based around several spring tanks mounted on a large rack panel included an optical attenuator its control panel is clearly seen in the 19” rack below the Quad pre amps in the control room.

Grampian 636 spring – this unit had a balanced Mic input, a line input and 2 aux line inputs. Ted Fletcher is convinced Meek had one and may have inherited it.

Binson Echo (there is some mention that Meek used a Binson at one time; it may have been loaned to him or owned by one of his guitarists)

(9/1962) – 3 Head Vortexion WVB 1/4” full track (used as delay, may have lived on the landing outside the control room)

Echo chamber above 304-control room (painted black containing a microphone and speaker/amp)


Lowther FM Tuner

6 Boom microphone stands, several short stands

Swell foot pedal

2x 19” rack units one with; ‘mixer and patch board panel’ (some pictures indicate a third shorter rack)

EMI 755/1 60 point patch panel

Connoisseur Hi-Fi Gramophone

(5/1964) metro Sound recording heads

Cintel 117-volt autotransformer

Shipton Isolating transformers 240/20/20/40 x2 (1 auto, 1 manual)

12v-100v-250v out DC converter

Gardino autotransformers

Music stands x 9

Appendix 2: Floor-plans