Saturday, 25 August 2007

Telstar Man

Very interesting story here about Joe Meek, legendary music producer, the man often touted as 'the English Phil Spector.' Of particular relevance to us is his lifelong fascination with outer space- driven by a stint as an RAF radar operator- which clearly influenced his most famous recordings. Telstar, an instrumental song recorded by the Tornadoes, is the best-known of these; and as well as being the first British-produced record to reach the top of the American charts, is frequently cited as one of the most influential singles ever recorded.

It was produced in his home studio at 304 Holloway Road, London: an address now marked with one of English Heritage's famous blue plaques. (A privilege also extended to the flat wherein Jimi Hendrix spent the last few years of his life, 23 Brook Street, a few miles away in the exclusive district of Mayfair.) As well as his name, the plaque bears a depiction of the Telstar satellite that inspired him: the first to transmit telephone and broadcasting signals; and thus the symbolic progenitor of the globalised mass media of our present day.

Telstar was the product of a multi-national agreement between AT&T- the company formed by Alexander Graham Bell- NASA, the British GPO, and the French. It was equipped with a helical antenna which received microwave signals from the ground; which it then rebroadcast to its main receiving station at Goonhilly Downs in Helston, Cornwall.

Helston is situated on the Lizard pensinuslar, and is known as the home of the Furry- or Floral- Dance: one of the oldest folk customs still practised in the UK. Interestingly, as well as being associated with much Arthurian folklore, since 1968 Helston has been twinned with Sasso Marconi, named in honour of the radio pioneer born in the nearby city of Bologna in 1874. Marconi's association with the Lizard is long and important: the first radio signals were successfully transmitted from Poldhu Cove; Marconi personally selected the site, and became a well-known figure in the area. And both the Lizard and Helston, its capital, are important 'stops' along the so-called Apollo Axis: a major alignment of sacred sites stretching from Skellig Michael off the western coast of Ireland, to Mount Carmel (and beyond) in Israel.

Trewavas Head on the Lizard peninsular; whose famous dragon guards Albion's coast. (Photograph by Ellis Taylor.)

As Paul Broadhurst asks in The Dance of the Dragon, the story of his quest to map this ley-line, 'Is it possible that Marconi found something inspirational at this place that appealed to his sensitive and questing nature? Did he 'tune in' to the energies of the Apollo Line and use its spiritual powers to initiate a new current in human evolution? Perhaps, in some unquantifiable way, Marconi was the modern equivalent of a priest, or prophet of the coming age, and as such was guided by forces he himself did not entirely understand.'

In an interesting parallel, the inventor of television John Logie Baird conducted some of his early experiments on Box Hill, a famous summit just off the ancient North Downs Way. This is the prehistoric track, in more recent times known as the 'Pilgrim's Way', so closely connected with Kent and Surrey's crop circles; as well as the sacred sites of Canterbury and Winchester. Box Hill itself has a long association with artists and writers; and according to her colleague in the Theosophical Society, C W Leadbeater, is the place where Annie Besant had some of the most important clairvoyant experiences of her career.

Could Joe Meek, too, be regarded as an avatar of the New Age? Obsessed with the occult, he would use his skills as a recording engineer in cemeteries, in the hope of recording voices from 'the other side.' He adored Buddy Holly, with whom he claimed to be in spiritual communication via the seances he held in his flat; and died, at his own hand, on the eighth anniversary of the guitarist's death. (After first shooting dead his landlady.) And his pet project, finally released in its entirety in 1991, a concept album in which he sought to communicate his belief in extra-terrestrial life, was tellingly entitled I Hear A New World.

** UPDATE **
23 Brook Street: 'Two commemorative blue plaques in a London street reveal that Jimi Hendrix and George Frederick Handel lived next door to each other. Handel (1685-1759) lived and died at number 25 Brook Street; Hendrix (1942-70) lived for one year at number 23.'
Source: Beyond Coincidence, by Martin Plimmer and Brian King


David said...

Well Alan Moore would probably agree with you about (listen to his Highbury Working); Andy Collins could tell us all interesting things about the Lizard and his Watchers; my childhood was changed by time on Goonhilly Downs; Joe Meek as an agent of VALIS is my theory, though what with the voodoo he did, he might just be an early dabbler in English Hoodoo.

aferrismoon said...

Because of Maxwells Silver hammer thing at Tod's blog, i looked into Brian Epstein, who died while the Beatles were meditating with the Maharavishi in Bangor.
Informative article- cheers
Ps. took some pictures of stone Owls today.

BTB said...

What did you find out about Mr Epstein? I would be very interested to know.

Any Beatles-related weirdness is grist to my mill.

Thanks for your comment, David. If you would care to elaborate on your references to Goonhilly Downs and Andrew Collins/The Lizard: please do.

Oh, and whilst we're at it, any thoughts as to the eytmology of a glorious name like Goonhilly?


martin said...

Speaking of place-names, did you hear Tsarion on Red-Ice referring to Greenwich as "the place of the sun"?

martin said...

Odd Faul McCartney photos:

BTB said...

Thanks Martin. I didn't hear Tsarion making that particular remark. Do you have any more details?

Thanks for the Faul McCartney photos. I'll take a look.


martin said...

Apologies for the bad Faul link. I'll try again:

The Red-Ice show was Michael Tsarion - Colonization & The "Celts" (August 16, 2007. At around 35 minutes in Michael describes teams of cartographers going around Albion. He reckons that they heard the Gaelic term for the sun to sound very much like green and translated it as such.
The second I heard this I immediately thought of your work on the Greenwich maritime theme.
Similarly, the word for fire or beacons was close to black as in Blackpool which, as Fredrik says, ties into Matthew deLooze's work on the Festival of Lights in Blackpool.


BTB said...

Thanks Martin...

And may I ask what your opinion is on the 'Faul McCartney' theory?


martin said...

I must admit that talk of culture creation, Theo Adorno, Faul, the introduction of LSD into mainly college and university campuses in the sixties, Tavistock Institute and Stanford Institute, Ed Sullivan Beatlemania, disturbs me a good deal.
Frankly, I don't know what to make of it yet. I do, however, remember clearly what the real Paul looked like (being of an advanced age) and some of the Faul pics look laughable to me. The biometric results on the web seem to back up the fact that Faul is an impostor, too.

aferrismoon said...

Well, I thought that Brian Epstein was a victim of 'queer-bashing', he'd been hit on the head. Quite obviously not as it appears he had a wierd drug problem, various types of speed. Every article I've read says that, so my memory of him being attacked must be a memory mix-up. Perhaps it was Stuart Sutcliffe who got beaten up.
Despite that his influence on the Beatles, and his erratic behaviour, maybe he got in the way of guys who really wanted to collect a lot more from the Beatles than Brian would allow.
A few sordid little deaths, mucky things , followed the Beatles, and Muck-Artney
I'm inclined in a slightly symbolic way to invoke the death of Robert Maxwell with Maxwell's Silver Hammer, I imagine an irate Bond-type pensioner who instead of a box of Milk Tray appears behind Maxwell and Silver hammers him deftly into the brine

Newspaceman said...

Ben - its goon a bit hilly - slow the horse down.