The EMI Archive, particularly the key part of it (the first 50 years) that is the responsibility of the Trust, was, and maybe still is one of the great secrets in the world of music history.
However, in the last few years, our archivist and trustees have been inviting a number of influential and interested organisations to begin to understand the unique importance of our collection, with the desire to make more of it available to researchers, exhibitions and anyone wanting to find more about the history of recorded music. It goes without saying that all visitors are amazed by the breadth and depth of our treasure trove.
Among the more recent manifestations of this interest are these very exciting projects, in which we have played a part.
American Epic Coming 2016
“This is America’s greatest untold story.” ROBERT REDFORD
This is a major TV series, due to be screened in America and here on BBC4 later this year which tells the story of the birth of popular recorded music in the USA. The archive became aware of it when we were approached by one of the production company’s researchers. Seemingly in their detailed search for examples of some of the earliest and most important recordings of American popular song, country, blues, hillbilly etc., they found that a large number of them were in too poor a condition to be useable. Then someone told them that very early in its history, The Gramophone Company (the fore runner of EMI) struck a deal with RCA in America, whereby each company would share its recordings with the other. As result a copy of every recording by RCA was shipped to Hayes.
Unsurprisingly, in those early years, The Gramophone Company was primarily if not exclusively interested in recordings by British singers and musicians, and the American discs were carefully stored away. By the time the music industry became interested in issuing recordings form its history, the link between EMI and RCA had long been severed (RCA is now part of Sony Music), and these thousands of discs remained unplayed and untouched in the Hayes vaults. Such was American Epic’s delight in realising that we had pristine copies, they borrowed over 70 discs, which were carefully hand couriered to America, where they were copied and the results will presumably feature strongly in the series. Look out for it, though we expect it will receive a lot of publicity when the screening dates are announced. None of these recordings was EMI property, but the wisdom of the archive not to dispose of anything under its auspices is yet another illustration of its uniqueness!
This is a Voice - The Wellcome Collection - 17 April to 31 July 2016
The Wellcome Collection, a charity devoted to human wellbeing, has just ended an intriguing exhibition at their Euston Road museum site. ‘This is a Voice’, in a series of stand-alone areas explored a wide range of topics associated with the human voice and communication in a very hi-tech way, all of which prompted immediate reactions varying from surprise and disbelief to bafflement and mystery!
The People’s History of Pop - February 2016
The People’s History of Pop (PHOP) is a year-long BBC initiative involving local and national radio and television and centered on the musical memories and collections of “the man in the street”. The archive has been featured twice. Firstly, BBC Radio London in co-operation with the company redeveloping the old EMI factory site in Blythe Road, Hayes, set up a special studio for a day and invited Hayes residents, a huge percentage of whom had worked, or had relatives who had worked for the company over the years since its 1906 opening.
They came in their hundreds with their memories and artefacts and helped create a fascinating programme, as well as renewing old friendships. Of particular interest to them was the collection of archive photographs showing the many different aspects of EMI at Hayes, and the staff who did the work. Amazingly, two ladies whose job was to check that the gramophone records were blemish-free, found they were both in a photograph they had no memory of ever having been taken!
For more information on PHOP EMI event in Hayes LINK HERE
The most high-profile part of The People’s History of Pop is a four-part BBC4 series, spread over the year and each reflecting a decade in the history of pop, which, probably correctly, was identified as having started in 1956. The first two episodes (1956-1966 and 1966-1976) have already been screened, with the remaining two will come in autumn and winter. Among all the personal collections and memories, the Archive Trust was invited to tell the story of its purchase at auction of the tape recorder and tape recording of a 1957 Liverpool concert by John Lennon’s then skiffle group, The Quarrymen, recorded on the day that John and Paul McCartney met for the very first time. Then Archive Trust Chair David Hughes was invited to meet Twiggy, the host of the first programme, to tell the story and listen to the Quarrymen’s version of ”Putting on the Style”. We have a more detailed account of this special piece of music history, which you can find on LINK HERE
Screening of 'Memories on Film' at The Old Vinyl Factory - 22 June 2014
The EMI Archive Trust were invited to screen some selected film’s from our ‘Memories of EMI Campaign as part of this years ‘Calling the Tune Film Festival’ – Sunday 22 June 2014 at The Old Vinyl Factory, Blyth Road, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 1HA.
This session included a presentation from Hayes students on their project on the history of Hayes, followed by a screening of ‘At Your Service (1962)’, a comedic short film made by Hayes Town Council in the 1960s about the services provided in the borough.
Take a look at this short film of the days screening ‘Memories of EMI’ – Sunday 22 June 2014
Memories on Film
We have been overwhelmed by all of the incredible stories and images sent in via our ‘Memories of EMI Campaign.’ We are now looking for your stories and memories of EMI, the Company, the music, the factories, the artists as well as the studios. We are hoping to capture your memories on film to share and keep for future generations. Help us to unlock the memories stored in EMI’s great legacy!
If you are interested or would like more information please contact us on:
Take a look at our latest Memories on film with Tris Penna at Abbey Road Studios.
To wish you and those close to you a very Merry Christmas, we have launched our very own EMI Archive Trust Advent calendar, with memorabilia from the early days of The Gramophone Company being shared in the 24 days of December leading up to Christmas.
We have Christmas catalogues, the big stars of the era and much more to celebrate this wonderful time of year.
New HMV 363 store
The EMI Archive Trust supplied a scan of the original 363 Oxford street shop designs from the 50’s which have been used as inspiration for the New His Master’s Voice Store at 363 Oxford Street in London. We are so proud to see HMV using its heritage to cement its place on the high street.
Take a look at more pieces from our paper collection here.
Memories of EMI
The strong legacy of EMI is a testament to the people who worked for the company across the years. The Trust would like to celebrate those employees with our ‘Memories of EMI Campaign’. We’d love to hear from previous employees, family members and friends of employees to learn about their stories of what life was like working for EMI.
We are looking for people who worked in the factories, studios, record company offices or anywhere else. We are interested in pictures at work, socials, sports teams and even the pub! Have you got a photo of you and your colleagues working or playing at EMI? We’d love to see your picture and learn who is in the photo and what is going on?
Get involved via our social media:
– Post photographs and a short description on our Facebook page, (be sure to tag anyone you know!)
– Get in touch via Twitter – @EMIarchivetrust Send us links to any interesting articles, videos and other online content about EMI employees #memoriesofEMI
Or get in touch via email:
– If you have any stories of your experience at EMI that you would like to share send details to –firstname.lastname@example.org
– We are also looking for stories to feature on our blog. If you are bale to share a story and answer a few questions from us please let us know via email – email@example.com
We look forward to unlocking the memories stored in EMI’s great legacy.
Abbey Road Studios. The World’s Greatest Music Exhibition' at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
The World’s Greatest Music Exhibition’ at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai , runs 23 September until 22 November 2013.
The Trust has been invited by Abbey Road Studios’ to share some of the archives wonderful heritage photographs depicting the early years of the Studios. These feature as part of an exciting new exhibition which celebrate Abbey Road’s history.
The center piece on loan from Abbey Road Studios’ is one of their famous Challen pianos played by many famous artists over the years.
At the launch 14 year old Chinese piano prodigy, A Bu, played solo and was later accompanied by the Peace Hotel’s own Old Jazz quartet. The performance included a jangle box version of “Yesterday.”
Fairmont Peace Hotel website.
Calling The Tune Film Festival
Calling The Tune Film festival (21—23 June 2013) was a collaboration between The EMI Group Archive Trust, Cathedral Group PLC and Brunel University supported by Film London and The British Film Institute. The festival was hosted on the old EMI factory site; ‘The Old Vinyl Factory’ and showcased the wide cultural heritage of Hayes, including some never before shown footage of the Old EMI factory before its closure in 1988.
On Saturday afternoon, a range of films from the EMI archives were shown, including the pioneering stereo sound experiments of EMI research scientist, Alan Blumlein. The festival showed rarely seen footage of Alan Blumlein and his team testing stereo sound technology which he invented in the Central Research Laboratories on the EMI factory site. (Stereo sound is still in use today.)
Several members of Alan Blumlein’s family came to watch the films and support the event.
“I just wanted to thank you very much for Saturday and great to see you again. William, Lewis and I had a wonderful time.”
Alan Blumlein (Grandson) with sons William and Lewis.
The evening continued with Ken Loach’s new documentary, The Spirit of ’45, and on Sunday afternoon with a selection of work featuring Hayes in the fifties and sixties. The festival concluded with a showing of the EMI film ‘The Railway Children’ in one of the recently refurbished factory buildings. Richard Mervyn, the son of one of the film’s actors, William Mervyn, was in the audience, and spoke at length to the crowd about his father’s work on the film.
Richard Mervyn Interviewed at Calling The Tune Film Festival 2013
EMI at the Foreign Office GREAT BRITAIN Campaign Exhibition
A joint exhibition between EMI Group Archive Trust, EMI Sound Foundation and The Torch Trophy Trust
EMI was invited to promote the UK through the GREAT Campaign which showcased the best of British in design, music, innovation and many other categories. The display was held in the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices during the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
In the run up to and throughout the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Number 10 played host to an unprecedented number of visiting international dignitaries, VIPs and international media. This presented an unmissable opportunity to promote the UK through the GREAT campaign, showcasing the best of GREAT British music, design, industry and business.
The FCO display consisted of products, exhibits and visual materials representing each of the GREAT pillars. Throughout the London 2012 Games the display was held in the spectacular FCO Durbar court; a space that was used entertain and engage many of international audiences and media.
A little piece of history
Welsh language history series Darn Bach o Hanes (a little piece of History) recently visited the EMI Group Archive Trust on the hunt for the first recording in the Welsh language.
On March 11th 1899, Madge Breese, niece of Trevor Lloyd Williams then Chairman of The Gramophone Company, entered a dingy recording studio in the basement room of the Old Cockburn Hotel on Maiden Lane to record the Welsh National Anthem – Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau , AR HYD Y NOS (All Through the Night) and BELLS OF ABERDOVEY.
Miss Breese’s career as a recording artist appears short lived as she did not return to Maiden Lane to record again, however her legacy as the first artist to record in the Welsh language lives on in this little piece of history.
The Trust would like to thank the team at Cwmni Da for bringing this story to life.
About the programme:
Presenter Dewi Prysor looks at the Welsh connection in the history of recorded music. He learns about the Welsh roots of the music recording and publishing company EMI, attempts to record his own voice using some early technology, and visits EMI Group Archive Trust to listen to the first recording in Welsh
First screened S4C 26 August 20.25 to 21.00, English translation will soon be available through the EMI Group Archive Trust.
Nimbus Records specialise in the transfer of vocal records on 78 rpm disc dating from 1900. The method of transfer involves the use of thorn needles and a giant acoustic horn on a carefully restored gramophone. Kind permission of Euros Wyn (Producer Cwmni Da and Antony Smith, at Nimbus )