Mike Oldfield Biography 1992

January 1, 1970

Virgin Records


"People are fed up with hearing music made for boardroom committees and sales figures, they want to turn on music and escape into another world, a world that can actually give them something. I want my music to do that. I want to give people the equivalent of a Disneyworld ride or a Spielberg film. It should be that good."

When Mike Oldfield talks about his music, he does so with an almost paternal expectation. You know he cares, know he has high hopes for it. Over two decades he has nurtured a succession of musical works and presented each to the harsh glare of public scrutiny, to be met with consistent and often astoundingly successful results.

His latest is one that has been clamoured for almost since its prequel was first heard: on August 31st Mike Oldfield releases Tubular Bells II, his debut album for WEA.

The original 'Tubular Bells' was recorded by a 20 year-old Oldfield in 1972. Its success was extraordinary, becoming one of the most successful albums in UK chart history and selling over 16 million copies worldwide. The record's popularity was such that, when Oldfield's second LP came out over a year later, the album it nudged into the No.2 slot was... 'Tubular Bells'.

Aficionados of 'Tubular Bells' will recognise some aspects of the new release -- "There's no point in writing a sequel if it's completely different," points out Oldfield. "There's certain parts where the two works converge, but then they'll separate and follow two distinct paths again.

Other contrasts with regard to 'Tubular Bells' are obvious to Oldfield now: "Apart from the fact that there's a 100 hertz mains hum running through the whole album, it all sounds so serious -- arms pushing down on the keyboard, stern eyebrows frowning -- the new one is a lot more open and expressive, a lot more free."

Oldfield found success at an early age and has achieved a long list of goals over a varied and distinguished career. -- But there's no question of the composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist exhausting his musical ambitions: "After Tubular Bells came out people called it 'New Age'. It wasn't, it was much more dynamic. When I listen to new age music I often find it boring -- things done very cheaply and without a lot of love and care or attention. Now I'm prepared to be an ambassador for instrumental music, I want to show kids starting out that you don't have to write music for the charts, it can be different, it can be out of the ordinary. They shouldn't be afraid to experiment."

Oldfield is, of course, an old hand at experimenting and when he tells of recording Tubular Bells II with TREVOR HORN, a fascinating picture emerges of two musical magicians exchanging secrets of their art.

"I learnt so much about computers from Trevor, but then I'd say 'let's use the old 12 string through the compressor effect' or, 'I think I'll try the old 9 ambient hand claps effect'. And he'd be baffled."

Such are the tricks of the trade, to be appreciated and enjoyed, but Oldfield knows that they're only one part of the recording process and that, when all else is stripped
away, the only thing that truly appeals is timelessly simple.

"It's not the writing that's important, in the end all you can do is write 'clever' things. But one melody played by somebody who doesn't care for that melody will sound like nothing. Another person can play that melody and bring it alive."

'Tubular Bells' was a phenomenon in every sense of the word: recorded by an unknown 20 year-old on a tight budget without synthesisers, it not only revolutionised recording techniques but proved that instrumental works could prosper in the chart-world.

'Tubular Bells' was astonishingly successful, It sold over 16 million copies worldwide (including 3 million in the UK alone), went to No.1 in virtually every country of release and provided the financial backbone for the construction of the Virgin Records empire.

Now, twenty years later, Mike Oldfield has recorded the sequel, Tubular Bells II (out August 31st) produced by TREVOR HORN and Oldfield. Once again, Oldfield is poised to confound people's expectations of instrumental music.

On September 4th Mike Oldfield gives Tubular Bells II its worldwide premiere in surroundings befitting its ethereal charm, Edinburgh Castle. This unique event will be broadcast on the same day by the BBC.

Since the release of 'Tubular Bells', Mike Oldfield has consistently solidified his reputation as one of the 20th Century's most successful composers. In addition to numerous solo albums, he attracted international acclaim for his Oscar-winning film-score to 'The Killing Fields'.


Mike Oldfield Tubular.net
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net