Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I may have already mentioned this. It was a film about the life of Joe Meek, the guy who produced 'Telstar' by the Tornadoes, 'Johnny, Remember Me' by John Leyton, and various other less well known tunes. It starts off with a wonderful scene in which 'Johnny, Remember Me' is being recorded in Meek's pokey flat. There is such a sense of something amazing being conjured into being that someone who did not know the sad trajectory of Meek's life could think that they are in for a film about creative triumph over adversity. Just to make clear that they would be wrong, the film then cuts to a sobbing Meek making a bonfire in his gutted flat, throwing a picture disc of 'Johnny Remember Me' onto the flames.

The film continues on like that, tracing Meek's initial success while intercutting with the failure and despair at the end of his life. Eventually the main narrative catches up with the other, by which point the film has definitively stopped being a barrel of laughs. This maybe is one reason for Telstar's lack of box-office success – it starts off as a 1960s pop music romp before veering off into far darker territory.

Anyway, I recommend this film – it is an interesting if depressing story well told. It is very evocative of its time. The performances are impressive too – Con O'Neill as Meek, Kevin Spacey as the Major (Meek's business partner), and the various other types knocking around.

One thing I found fascinating was the where-are-they-now bit that ran over the end credits. Various characters in the story came to pretty poor ends. This however, this is not true of them all. Of the three recurring musicians of Joe Meek's house band (who in the film serve as John Leyton's backing band, the Tornadoes, Heinz's backing band, and so on), the chubby drummer turns out to have been some incredibly successful session player. One of the guitarists later becomes Chas (or Dave) or Chas 'n' Dave, while the other becomes Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple.

An inuit panda production

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