Con O’Neil superbly portrays the brutal intensity that was Joe Meeks life in actor turned director Nick Moran’s 2009 debut feature film the biopic Telstar. Our story takes place between a time when the solo rock and roll star was on the wane and the Mersey beat era had not quite hit the heights it would attain.
Inspired by John Repschs 1989 biography of Meek and adapted from the acclaimed hit stage play of the same name by Moran and James Hicks which also featured Con O’Neil in the lead role. Joe Meek was the first British independent record producer, a mad genius fuelled by uppers who produced a series of successful 45s, including the world wide hit that gives the movie its name, all from a flat above a leather goods shop in North London’s Holloway Road.
As well as O’Neil the film stars, amongst others Pam Ferris as Violet Shenton the landlady, JJ Field as the love of Joes life Heinz Burt, James Corden as drummer Clem Cattini, Raif Little as Chas Hodges (one half of Chas and Dave) and Kevin Spacey as the financial backer Major Wilfred Banks. One of the bonuses of this film is play ‘spot the walk on part’ which includes a fair proportion of the characters portrayed in the movie i.e. Jess Conrad, Clem Cattini, John Leyton (who I once met) Chas Hodges and British New Wave star Rita Tushingham. Watching this drama about a genuine pioneer it made me wonder what Meek would have made of today’s dull and boring pop music, manufactured to the Simon Cawell formula?