Telstar: Joe Meek, the Super Producer

Telstar: Joe Meek, the Super Producer

If you’re only remembered for one thing after you die, but that one thing is incredible, it was a successful life. Of course, there’s no way to know if your work’s appreciated after you’re gone. And even if there was a way to figure that out, you’d still be dead. That’s always a bummer.

Joe Meek felt like he got screwed over by the record industry in England. And while he wasn’t exactly right about that, the producer and song writer scored a few big hits in addition to helming hundreds of dramatically unique recording sessions.

As with a great many performers – or creative types in general – it seems that Meek’s personality, combined with a healthful does of uppers made him a relatively difficult guy to be around. Add in the fact that he believed himself (and probably rightly so) to be a genius producer and there’re probably only a few steps between Meek’s craziness and that of Phil Spector.

Telstar, the fictional account of Meek’s life, takes all of this in and attempts to document the final few years of his existence. Beginning as a staged production and making its way to the big screen, though, points to not just the bizarre circumstances of Meek’s life, but what a talent he was.

Using the arch of a relationship Meek had with a session player, whose made out to seem like a scorned lover to a certain extent, Telstar delves into the period of the producer’s life after he’d landed his greatest success. Unfortunately, the Beatles sent in a demo and the man passed on the opportunity to record the Fab Four before they were the Fab Four.

Money getting mismanaged and a tumultuous relationship with a financial backer all but removed the possibility of success for Meek. What made it all worse was the fact that Meek’s lone (would-be) goldmine was hung up in a French court due to plagiarism charges.

Shown in flashbacks throughout the film and eventually detailed as its close, Meek ostensibly destroys his studio, burning various accolades he’d accumulated over his career. He becomes completely irrational and purportedly shoots his land lady before putting the rifle in his own mouth.

As horrible an end to a life as that is, the music Meek helped record during the late fifties and early sixties is the aural opposite of it all. What’s worse is that not too long after he killed himself, the verdict of that French trial came in. And the ruling was in Meek’s favor.