Telstar : Story Of Joe Meek

16 Jun


I happened by happy chance to catch this on BBC2 last week, and am happy to say it is available on DVD.  What an absolutely astounding and sometimes disturbing portrayal of the man who brought us so many memorable hits [“Have I the Right,” “Just Like Eddie,” “Johnny, Remember Me” and “Telstar.”], who worked with such names as Clem Cattini, John Leyton, Gene Vincent, Chas Hodges, names you do not realise you know until the closing credit and you see what they worked on in the decades that followed.

Joe Meek was a music-infused tone deaf, (supposidly) flamboyantly gay, songwriter and producer of the 1960’s, plagued by anxiety, paranoia, depression, possibly even mild schizophrenia (you wonder if this is another ‘genius beside madness’ person), addicted to slimming pills, not for their slimming aid but because they allowed him to think outside convention, avoid sleep, and be receptive to communication from the other side.

Meek is caught by the police engaging in a sex act with an undercover police officer and the shock and shame spirals him into even more alarming behaviour, and after a brief affair with Heinz Burt whom he lavishes suits and style grows increasingly erratic and distrusting of those around him, prone to sudden bouts of anger and threatening behaviour.

When a French composer accuses Meek of plagiarism of Telstar and starts a lawsuit in 1963, it results in royalties and all revenues associated with the track being frozen until the court case is heard.  With such funds being locked, Meek’s business is thrown into cash-strapped hell, this alongside his behaviour, means fewer people will have anything to do with him.

Sadly in an episode of paranoid hysteria he shoots his landlady and then himself with a shotgun registered to Heinz Burt, who is extensively questioned by the police but is release uncharged.

Three weeks after Meek’s death, the Courts ruled in his favour regarding the ownership of the track “Telstar” releasing the revenue to his estate which he left to his assistant and quite possibly only friend, Patrick Pink.

EDIT  ::  Further reading online shows many who knew Mr Meek are/were shocked and angered by how the film portrayed him and over dramatised some of the elements of the period in his life.  There is an open letter from Patrick Pink for all to read


Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Films, Review



3 responses to “Telstar : Story Of Joe Meek

  1. Clive Bubley

    June 17, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Minor typo – his name was Joe Meek not Meeks.

    Joe was NOT flamboyantly gay – he kept it rather quiet in fact as it was still illegal then. On all the occasions I was with him he never once made any inappropriate advances or suggestions!

    He was not at all loud-mouthed and crude as he was portrayed in the film. He was in fact very polite and businesslike. Yes, he could sometines get angry when one of his musicians did not do as he requested – just like many people.


    • amgroves

      June 17, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      I have since discovered quite a lot of errors with the film as pointed out by those who knew Mr Meek, there is an open letter on a yahoo group from Patrick Pink [I believe he is known by another name Robbie Duke]. It is a shame that film makers take a small element and over emphasis and repeat it through out a 90-minute piece of entertainment that is preported to be somewhat biographical.

      The abiding element that remaind with me after the film is how the twists and turns of someone who was obviously exceptionally skilled lead to such a tragic and sad end. Of course, no one can know the truth of the mans mind, we are all to some degree speculating, but I do wonder “If only” there had not been the Telstar litigation, “If only” he had received the proper backing and acclaim, things may have been so different.


  2. deleted user

    June 22, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Reminds me of a spooky incident that happened to me concerning the man – I didn’t know anything about the murder or the thwarted affair but having listened to Telstar, years ago found myself writing a poem almost as if from the man himself – I put it away and forgot all about it until my (now ex) husband read it and remarked how simalar it was to the true facts.



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