Tune in tomorrow early 03:32 GMT or stay up late 23:32 GMT for BBC WORLD SERVICE documentary – Delivering the King’s Speech! This programme explores the fascinating history of royalty releasing records, and incorporates rare material from the EMI Archives and an interview with EMI historian Tony Locantro.
Marking the 75th anniversary of King George VI’s declaration of war against Germany, Louise Minchin relates the untold story of how the King’s Speech reached the entire world.
Inspired by the discovery of the original pressing of the speech in the EMI Archives – mounted in goatskin leather and signed by the King himself – Louise uncovers how the King’s words reached the furthest corners of the British Empire. Starting with the fascinating history of royalty releasing records, and incorporating rare material from the EMI Archives and interview with EMI historian Tony Locantro.
Delivering The King’s Speech delves into the earliest days of the BBC Empire Service (later to become the BBC World Service) to find out how the King’s message was sent across the globe and how it enabled the Empire Service to win the fight against the anti-British propaganda broadcast by the Germans.
If you’re neither an early bird nor a night owl you can also tune in throughout the day!
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:
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.
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.