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 http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/joemeek/message/5888