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Chestnut Bank Productions





Byron Elwell


Joe Meek is often described as a troubled genius, a Maverick producer and the British answer to Phil Spector. Whilst the first bit of that is certainly true, Spector's musical output doesn't really bear close comparison with that of Meek. The parallels are more realistically to do with temperament and eccentricity. Meek produced several big hits for the Tornados, Johnny Leyton and The Honeycombs, among others, and famously was the first British producer to hit the number one spot in America with Telstar, a release which celebrated the first satellite launch. A brilliant technician and engineer, he had struck out on his own as an ‘Indie’ – an independent producer at a time when this had simply never been heard of. Not only did he do this, he actually managed to beat the big record companies such as EMI and Decca for chart positions and sales. And how they hated him.

Meek's studio was a flat in Holloway Road, north London, and musicians and equipment had to climb flights of stairs and then be fitted into any available space, including the bathroom, in order for Joe to record. From these unlikely surroundings the technical genius of Meek was able to produce some fantastic innovative new sounds and techniques and to devise gadgets and sound equipment that the bigger studios could only wonder at. Telstar, Johnny Remember Me, Wild Wind, Have I The Right? and many other hits.
Despite his huge success, Meek continued on a self-destruct path which ultimately resulted in a murder and suicide, his death coinciding with the anniversary of the death of his great hero Buddy Holly.

Byron Elwell was inspired by the work and legacy of Joe Meek and runs Chestnut Bank Productions, recreating the instrumental sounds of the early sixties in those pre-Beatlemania days. Here, Digger talks to Byron about what he is doing.





Digger: Can you please tell us about your background and how and why Chestnut Bank Productions was formed?

Byron: I started with music in the 1960's. Having been influenced by Telstar by the Tornados, I formed a group and purchased a Selmer Clavioline. A fascinating little keyboard, worth it's own feature. I later joined Dave Kaye and the Dykons in 1970 and we played at all the Elvis Presley conventions worldwide. Chestnut Bank Productions was created by me as a front to my music and, in 2004, when we moved into a large Victorian house, I developed a music studio on the third floor.

Digger: What is it about Joe Meek's work that generates such strong passions in people?

Byron: Joe Meek was a sound genius who was way ahead of his time with sounds. He had none of today's gimmicks so he had to be creative with his sounds. More people are beginning to discover his sounds.

Digger: What are the main inspirations for what you are doing?

Byron: My main inspiration is that there are a lot of people out there who yearn for the early 1960's instrumental sounds.

Digger: Why is Retro and Vintage so enduringly popular? And is it here to stay?

Byron: Retro and Vintage has always been popular and has been an influence on many of today's artists. It certainly is here to stay and has never gone away.

Digger: What are the most popular lines?

Byron: The most popular lines with me are instrumentals. I have recorded originals like Telstar but also around thirty of my own. My most popular composition is "Tornado" which I wrote for the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust's brand new steam loco, Tornado 60163, built at a cost of over 3 million pounds.

Digger: What gives you most pleasure about what you are doing?

Byron: What gives me most pleasure from what I do is the composing. To create a rhythm, add a prominent lead and a little Joe Meek magic.

Digger: What sort of feedback and responses do you get from customers?

Byron: Feedback has been fantastic. I have a very loyal following in the Joe Meek Society who have given me their utmost support, and also outside the Society. A great supporter is Tom Hammond who has is own web site for the Tornados. All these people make it worthwhile.

Digger: Where is Chestnut Bank Productions developing in the future?

Byron: Chestnut Bank Productions will continue to be the front for my music and continue to promote the sounds of the Telstar Era. 




Chestnut Bank Productions - Relive the Telstar era

Welcome to the site that recreates the instrumental sounds of the 1960's along with new material in the 60's style by Byron Elwell.

Chestnut Bank Productions produce instrumentals under the guise of the Space Babes.

The Space Babes are ethereal electronic voices, created by keyboard player, Byron Elwell. Various harmonies are created and played through the keyboard, along with the lead instrument. They were created to help bring new interest to instrumentals and so far it has worked extremely well on many numbers.

When recording I do not use backing tracks. I create a suitable rhythm and arrange the various instruments to suit the recording. I then play the base of the song with my left hand and the melody with my right. Effects are added as required. Drum variation can be controlled by a foot pedal. The majority of my work is in the style of Joe Meek, the record producer who, besides writing Telstar, wrote and recorded many others.

DE56 2HN

Phone: 01773 856615


Other recommended links:

Joe Meek Society website

Tom Hammond's Tornados website






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