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The Making of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells



Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells (1973) always seems relevant. It is like a well of creativity and youthful optimism that never gets empty. Here I’ll give a review of Richard Newman’s book from 1993, released on Music Maker Books, called The Making of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. It is a fascinating read.

The Making of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells tells the story of the young men who set the stage – or studio – so that Mike could record and mix his highly original and different debut album. From outside it might seem like a one-man album, but he was not alone in this enterprise. In this book we get to know Tom Newman, Simon Heyworth and others who participated in the process.

Behind the scenes
As you might understand, this book is more about the circumstances that made the recording possible than Mike’s inspirations and goals with the music. Later books, like Mike’s autobiography Changeling (2007) and the fan biography Mike Oldfield – A Life Dedicated To Music (2013) by Chris Dewey draw a much better picture of the young Mike – with all his talents and emotional baggage.

The book includes this early leaflet for The Manor studio.
Tubular Bells – Recorded & Engineered by Simon Heyworth & Tom Newman

Richard Newman’s book gives a great sociological insight into the early 1970s UK, and more precisely, young Richard Branson’s bold studio project. It shows the level of persistence and insight he already had at this time. In time he would change the world of business – much like Mike Oldfield changed the world of music.

The book mostly consists of interviews written in the form of a conversation. It has a nice flow and makes an interesting read. It also includes nice photographs:

Building the studio was a lot of work.

We recently celebrated the 40 year anniversary of Tubular Bells, while Richard Newman’s book was released in connection with the 20 year anniversary. Between this and today both Mike and the others have given many more interviews. This makes the book less relevant. Yet anyone interested Mike’s music, the building of 1970s studios or the recording of a groundbreaking piece of music, will enjoy this book. It also shows that Tubular Bells‘ commercial success was something no one, including Mike Oldfield and Richard Branson, could predict.

The book is available on Amazon.