This essential book on the making of Tubular Bells is still available, for £15. Based on exclusive interviews with Oldfield and his two engineers, Heyworth and Newman, this is the DEFINITIVE story of the early days at Virgin Records, the setting up of the Manor Studios and the recording of Tubular Bells. It includes rare photos from Heyworth’s private collection, plus a fold-out reproduction of the original manor brochure. ORDER NOW
In recent years he’s told numerous interviewers that he created the famous phrase from Tubular Bells by flipping Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor upside down. But today he’s dismissive of the idea. “That’s not really it. It’s similar to the Toccata, which I’ve always liked. But it’s not really the same tune upside down.” These days Oldfield attributes much of Tubular Bells’ success to its unusual key signature: “Most music is in 4/4 time, but that curious little figure at the beginning is in 15/8. It’s like a puzzle with a little bit missing. That’s why it sticks in the brain. And that’s why it worked so well as the soundtrack to The Exorcist – with that little bit missing everything is not quite right.” Not a fan of horror movies, Oldfield himself didn’t see the film until fifteen years after it’s release and, at some points, found himself the only person laughing in the cinema.
Mike Oldfield’s fifth album was partially recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, and the title suite especially nods to the bustle of the city at the time. Impeccably arranged and produced, the album was released in November 1979. It was Oldfield’s first album that included shorter songs, including a beautiful version of George Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm, and a new arrangement of North Star by Philip 2012 remastered edition contains three bonus tracks – a live studio session of Platinum, a 2012 mix of North Star by Mike and the single A side, Blue Peter. The second disc of the Deluxe edition, which contains an interview with Mike in its 16-page booklet, features nine previously unreleased tracks recorded on the Platinum tour at Wembley Arena in May 1980.
In 1973, an album was released that against all odds and expectations went to the top of the UK charts. The fact the album launched a record label that became one of the most recognisable brand names in the world (Virgin), formed the soundtrack to one of the biggest movies of the decade (The Exorcist), became the biggest selling instrumental album of all time, would eventually go on to sell over 16 million copies and was performed almost single-handedly by a 19-year-old makes the story all the more incredible. That album was Tubular Bells, and the young and painfully shy musician was Mike Oldfield.