George Peckham (cont.)

Pawns at the Star ClubTheirs read: “In case of a fire walk in an orderly fashion to the nearest exit. Do not run.” Mine read “In case of a fire RUN like bloody hell, push anyone out of the way and get out as fast as you can” and so on, down the list of things to do. I never mentioned it to anyone, but Bill was standing by the lift one day when he suddenly called out my name “Peckham you’ve been at it again.” One of the lads came down to the studio and I was with George Harrison at the time, so he popped up to see my handy work and came back down. I thought ‘Here we go, I’m in trouble now,” but he was as good as gold. He was laughing and said “Did you do all of the floors?” and I said that I had.

I remember coming into work one morning and was confronted by a very annoyed Bill Swain. He said, “Right where have you hidden my teeth “(He had false ones). I begged him to believe me, but as I was laughing so much, he just wouldn’t believe me at all and kept insisting that I give them back to him as he would be off duty in half an hour.

The more he told me that he had problems trying to eat his sandwiches overnight the more I just couldn’t stop laughing - and the more he said that I am a liar the more I just laughed even more. The bad part to follow was that we did find them in the filing cabinet, but they had been glued together and now Bill was fuming with me. Between laughing I begged him to believe me that although it was very funny I really just wouldn’t do a thing like that to anyone. He just wouldn’t believe me at all, and I can swear to this day it wasn’t me and no one owned up to doing it either, so the blame always remained that I had done it, no matter how many times I swore that it really wasn’t me. No one would believe it. Poor Bill he’s probably gone to his grave still believing that it was me.

In the beginning of the 1970’s we had formed a band at Apple with me on guitar. The others were Mike O’Donnell and Martin Lawrence and we had various guys to be the drummer.

Mike was a tape operator at the studio, Martin was a mate from Liverpool and we were going to call the band ‘the Apple Band.’ We had photographs taken for the front cover of the supplement informing the Industry that Apple Studios was at last opening. As it was a new studio a test band was needed to check out that all the microphones worked and the amplifiers and the acoustics and the desk all functioned. 

I volunteered our band to be available for this, which worked out very well, as we had written about half a dozen numbers and didn’t have the money to record them. We did so well that we actually recorded a whole album on these test sessions and Ringo helped us out by speaking to Barnaby Records in California. One of his pals was head of production and was up for the album and arranged that with each quarter of the LP he would give us a quarter of the advance money, which was great for us.

Pawns in the studioAt last we would be able to buy guitars and things. We had recorded a Bread single earlier which Mickie Most had wanted to release on his Rak Records label. He did and his brother Dave Most did the plugging for us. The next thing we had an invite to do ‘Top of the Pops,’ which was great, but we didn’t have guitars for the television show. George got to hear about this and he said to come to his house ‘Friar Park’ and between us we would find a guitar for me. We did, it was George’s guitar from ‘Magical Mystery Tour.’ Later he said he wanted it back for sentimental reasons, obviously, so he got me to come back to his house to choose another. He gave me his Rickenbacker, a little black one but a lovely guitar to play. He told me John had borrowed it at one time and really liked to play it, but George had got it back from him.

Just as everything looked very good, Allan Klein called me to say that he had heard that we had a band called the Apple Band, and he finished the conversation by informing me that if we didn’t change the name he would sue the band. That was Goodbye to the Apple Band name and we changed it to Matchbox. The record on Mickie Most’s label was also changed to Matchbox. It didn’t make anyone millionaires or kick the charts but it was better than nothing, and this also applied to our LP which I don’t think ever got released in the USA. Never mind.

Eventually I felt that Apple may be reaching the end of the road as the Beatles seemed always to be in disarray as to what would happen at Apple. So I felt that it was high time that I should move on. I did so by getting a client I had worked with for a few years: Freddie Packham (No Relation) to get some backing finance to open a cutting room called The Master Room in Riding House Street W.I.

It was a bigger room than Apple and had its own reception for clients to wait in a very comfortable atmosphere. It was a good move as I still had a full diary of clients to fill the accountant’s books and also I still had Paul McCartney and George Harrison’s cuttings to do as well. It became quite a prestigious studio and I was to be manager and a Director. This was fine ‘till the dishing out of the percentage of profits. Two and two always seemed to become one when I was supposed to get my 10%. This went on for as long as I could stand, when one day my old friend from the Animals, Chas Chandler, decided to buy IBC Studios in Portland Place just up the road from the BBC.

Chas had been cutting all his Slade records with me for years and when he asked if I would be prepared to leave the Master Room and come and work with him to make the cutting room there financially solid, I said ‘great,’ as I loved working with Chas. He knew exactly what he wanted, never bullshitted anyone, and was a very fair man to deal with. Some people in the music industry couldn’t handle his honesty too well as he went straight to the point and most of the people in the industry liked to waffle and make it up as they go along, but not Chas.

I stayed working with Chas for ten years and they were ten very happy years going through the Punk era. I loved it. Everyone was saying “What a load of crap” while I was saying ‘listen to it properly, it’s great, and it’s about time that someone took the piss out of this industry.’ I also said, ‘if you listen they are writing really good songs, just try to listen without any prejudice.’ This was again proved to me by Tim Rice when he brought in a tape to cut and he covered up the title and said “I bet you won’t recognise these two tracks.” He was right. The singer was Paul Jones, ex Manfred Mann band and the song was done with a kind of smooth Beach Boys type of feel, California style - and low and behold it was ‘Sheena’s A Punk Rocker.’

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