As a teenage musician our next guest took the world by storm with his composition Tubular Bells. That musical achievement, it's fair to say, made Mike Oldfield a millionaire. Well he's now released his all vocal album called Earth Moving and he's joined us this morning to talk about it. Good morning to you.
Actually, erm, Tubular Bells, we're very sordid aren't we to talk about money and music together, very sordid of us, but it did make you a lot of money didn't it and there was a time when the world looked very good for you but yet you had ups and downs didn't you for several years after that?
Sure I did. Well actually Tubular Bells didn't make me a millionaire because of.....
Didn't it? Should have done - it sold millions.
Yes but at that time of very high tax rates and also my royalties weren't very high at that point. And also I was very disorganised and didn't have a very good accountant and various things. But since then with my sales in Europe, yes I've done very well indeed.
What did it actually do for you in terms of - you know, you were a seventeen-year-old, very very young guy to be doing that who really just loved playing with the instruments at Abbey Road and doing your own thing in a very solitary way. When you were plunged into that kind of fame, did it have an effect on you for a time?
Well really I rejected the fame and I moved off to a little house up in the Welsh hills and got on with my next piece of music which annoyed everybody intensely because I wouldn't do interviews and I wouldn't do any tours and I wouldn't do anything. I just wanted to get on with my next piece of music.
I suppose it's strange but at the time I remember we all thought you were strange. I suppose the idea was that you should have been in swinging London at the time.
Yeah, I should've been down the discos and doing gigs and being sociable but at that time I didn't want to do that.
But you're a loner by nature aren't you? I mean I can remember you -
I used to be, I'm getting a little more sociable now.
Well you have to be - how many children have you got?
Er 4 and er 1 on the way.
Oh! Congratulations on that. Now, Earth Moving. When you think of Mike Oldfield you think very much of instrumental compositions but there are voices everywhere.... on this one.
Well this album I wanted to do a completely vocal album. I've been perfecting my songwriting over the last few years and I felt I wanted to make one songwriting statement. But that's it for now with songs. The next album is going to be all instrumental.
Can you make more of a statement with song?
Well you've got to choose one little area of life, one little observation, one little human situation and make your own comments about it. It's more personal I suppose and it's also more restricted. You have to stick to the formats, like the verse, chorus, middle eight, solo, you know, it's very regimented whereas with an instrumental you can do anything, can't you, you can......
Your album tells a series of different stories. Do you think that the pop scene actually needs something that ,rather than just being surface, perhaps in many cases computerised, needs to get back to the old system which used to be a tune and a story?
Yeah, most of music today is computerized. I'm not sure whether people really realize that but erm, you know, there's hardly ever a musician playing these days. It's just a computer. And I'm well up with computers, I know how to work them but I think that they've got limitations and so for the next album I'm chucking all my computers out the window, I'm going to actually hand-make it with these two hands.
If the scene's so bland do you think it's time then that we return to the Who smashing guitars, all sorts of - Rolls Royces being driven into swimming pools......
No I don't think there's any virtue in that either you know. What I would like to see is lots of young musicians coming up, you know, like 13/14 year-olds who can actually play the guitar properly and play a keyboard properly. I feel young people are discouraged these days. If they're too good people think that they're not hip, not punk, you know and erm they're just discouraged. I think it's about time musicianship took a lead again.
And in that context we're going to chat to you later and perhaps hear you singing....
[At this point MO looks straight to camera, frowns and mouths "Eh?!" - wish you could see this - Sair.]
....but in that context it's worth saying Tubular Bells 2, 3 and 4 are coming out soon aren't they, soon?
Well the first part was 1 and 2. I'm starting work in a couple of weeks' time on Parts 3 and 4. It's going to be identical instrumentation. The music's going to be different but as I say, there's going to be no synthesizers, no computers, just these.
[Mike Oldfield holds up his outstretched hands in front of his face.]
We'll chat to you later Mike.
Mike Oldfield and Anita Hegerland, good morning to both of you. The title of the song you're going to sing is - what?
And what's the - I know you like stories behind all the......
[Another funny frown, a scratch of the head and silent "Eh?!" from Mike Oldfield - Sair]
....what's this story about?
Well it's actually inspired by our daughter Greta.
How old's Greta?
And is she a good girl?
She's a very good girl. I hope she's watching.... [Mike Oldfield waves to camera] ....Greta.
Blonde or brunette?
Blonde of course.
Blonde [to Anita Hegerland] like you?
Anita Hegerland: Yes, yes yes.
[Another presenter:] Congratulations to another one on the way as well we hear.
Anita Hegerland: That's right.
That's 5! Crikey! OK, Innocent from the album Earth Moving.
Very enjoyable - that's really a hymn of praise to Greta aged - ?
Anita Hegerland: 14 months.
Isn't she a lucky girl? _Is_ she innocent by the way?
Anita Hegerland: She is, she's very sweet.
Not all the time, come on....
Anita Hegerland: She is actually.
Mike Oldfield: But it's about all children you know. It's about all children. They're so wonderful when they're small. It's a shame when they grow up and start getting naughty and .... when they're helpless they're -
And we could talk forever couldn't we about millions, albums, music, isolated retreats that you've had but I suspect they're the most important thing to you by a mile aren't they Mike?
Definitely, yes. Wonderful thing in the world.
And when's the next one due?
Anita Hegerland: Er, probably in February.
Ah, we wish you well.
Anita Hegerland: Thank you very much.
Look forward to the song commemorating that one.
Anita Hegerland: Thank you.
Mike Oldfield: Alright.
We'll talk to you later.
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net