On this day: 7th July 1944

Seventy years today,  7th July 1944, a German V1 rocket landed on the EMI factory in Blyth Road, Hayes, as a result a concrete shelter roof collapsed, killing 34 and injuring a further eighteen.

Today we honour the men and women based at the EMI Factory and Hayes, whose contribution was essential to the British War effort, in both civilian and military roles. We particularly remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on that fateful day.

A memorial to those killed in the bomb attack on EMI can be found in Cherry Tree Lane Cemetery.

Memorial at Cherry Tree Lane Cemetery, Hayes. 7th July 2014

Memorial at Cherry Tree Lane Cemetery, Hayes.
7th July 2014

 

Photographs: Courtesy of The EMI Group Archive Trust
Speech: Winston Churchill – War of the Unknown Warrior – Broadcast July 14 1940
Recording: The Gramphone Company, Hayes Middlesex – HMV C.3209
Usage Rights
All usage to be cleared by EMI Group Archive Trust

 

 

 

 

 

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Art you can dance to. How the record sleeve was turned into something beautiful.

It seems quite remarkable that it took until 1939 for the music industry to take advantage of the natural advertising real estate of the record sleeve. Until that point record sleeves were plain and drab. In 1939, Columbia Records in New York hired a young 23-year-old to become art director of the company. His name was Alex Steinweiss and he was given the job of creating ad’s for Columbia’s latest recordings.

Never mind the adverts, Steinweiss thought the products themselves needed improving. “The way records were sold was ridiculous,” he said in a later interview. “The covers were brown, tan or green paper. They were not attractive, and lacked sales appeal.” He persuaded the suits to let him loose to design something more attractive. This was his first attempt, not bad, huh!

Steinweiss went on to design over 2,500 record sleeves in his career which extended into the 1970’s, including these ones:

Perhaps a hint of Dark Side Of The Moon?

He set in motion the notion the record sleeves were the perfect home for 12″ x 12″ pieces of art and design. All those wonderful images of swimming Nirvana Babies, Sgt Peppers, Yellow bananas, bulging trouser zips and  light diffracting through a prism started from here, with this man’s great idea.

Sadly Alex Steinweiss died at the weekend, aged 94. He left behind a collection of wonderful images both on record sleeves and beyond. You can learn more about him in this wonderful little video:

HMV 363 Oxford Street

This was the Daddio of record shops. HMV 363 Oxford Street, London in the late 1950’s:

The shop plays a part in The Beatles story. HMV, which was then part of EMI, had a small recording studio that members of the public could record songs for their sweethearts. In February 1962 Brian Epstein was in London doing the rounds of the London record companies trying (unsuccessfully) to get a record deal for the boys. He stopped at HMV Records at 363 Oxford Street to get some acetate discs made from the (unsuccessful) reel-to-reel Decca demo. The disc-cutter was Jim Foy who mentioned the group to publisher Sid Colman who in turn mentioned them to George Martin at E.M.I.’s studios in Abbey Road NW8. George gave The Beatles a recording test some months later and the rest is history.

People also bought music there!

You can browse more wonderful photos from HMV in the 1960’s here

The original HMV shop burnt down in 1937 to be rebuilt and reopened 2 years later on 8th May 1939. Sir Thomas Beecham, the famous conductor, opened the store. Here is his speech and photos of the fire.

The original shop was opened in 1921 by Sir Edward Elgar (who also opened Abbey Road Studios ten years later)

The shop closed down on April 2000. A certain George Martin was there to send it on its way with a Blue Plaque.