Sometimes, whenever I find an article about a influential producer, I will post them here. It is rare to find them, and that makes them valuable. The producers are very important for a band as they can make or break careers. One of the producers that everyone should know is Michael Peter Hayes or Mickie Most as you probably know him as. He set up the famous record label RAK Records along with the manager of Led Zeppelin, Peter Grant. RAK had a huge roster of artists, among them famous names as Smokie, Suzi Quatro, Hot Chocolate, Heavy Metal Kids and also hired the famous songwriting team Chinn and Chapman to score a lot of hits for their artists.
Most was also the father of Calvin Hayes who was a member of the band “Johnny Hates Jazz”.
For someone willing to dig a little, his life could probably be an exciting book or even film. There is a lot more to tell about the life of Mickie Most who left this world a greyer place in 2003, aged only 64.
Hit-maker Mickie gets Most from the stars
By Alan Smith
Mickie Most owns a £45,000 house, a £42,000 yacht moored at Cannes, and an elegant £3,500 Rolls-Royce. “Money is for spending,” he says. “I`d spend the last penny I had.”
Four years ago he was selling parts of his record collection to scrape together the price of a meal. Then he got a singing job in a Newcastle club, heard the Animals, recorded them with a number called “Baby Let Me Take You Home” and started himself on a trail of hit discs stretching around the charts of the world.
Today you’ll find The name Mickie Most on hits by Lulu (“The Boat That I Row”), Jeff Beck (“Hi Ho Silver Lining”), Herman (“There’s A Kind Of Hush”), the Yardbirds (“Little Games”), and Donovan (“Mellow Yellow”).
He was offered the job of recording The Monkees, but turned it down because it meant spending too long in the States.
You won’t find weird, way-out instruments on the discs Mickie produces. “Making good, commercial hits” is his aim and he claims to be so in touch with the pop scene he can virtually predict the highest position discs will reach.
He is a blaze of energy: attacking a meal of fish and chips, arms waving to express a point, talking rapidly about anything and everything — from poverty in India to why Lulu missed hit records for a while.
“Me energetic?” he asks. “I wish I was! I sat in the office yesterday reading comics.”
Nevertheless, this recording manager with the Most is still able to turn out hit discs at the rate of one every few weeks, as well as comb America for hit songs and currently work on the soundtrack album for the Herman movie, “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter.”
I was so intrigued by the energy and efficiency he puts into his work, I asked him if he could reel off all the hits he had ever made.
“What!” he exclaimed. “All of them?”
Then he thought a moment, and said: “Okay — the Animals’ `Baby Let Me Take You Home’, ‘House Of The Rising Sun’, ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, ‘Bring It On Home To Me’, `Got To Get Outa This Place’, ‘It’s My Life’, ‘Boom Boom’ (in the U.S.), the Nashville Teens’ `Tobacco Road’ and `Google Eye’, Brenda Lee’s ‘Is It True’ . . .
“. . . Herman’s ‘I’m Into Something good’, ‘Show Me Girls’, ‘Silhouettes’, Wonderful World’, ‘Just A Little Bit Better’, ‘Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter’, `Listen People’, `Must To Avoid’, ‘You Won’t Be Leaving’, ‘This Door Swings Both Ways’, another one I can’t remember; ‘No Milk Today’, ‘Dandy’, ‘East West’, ‘There’s A Kind Of Hush’
“… the new Lulu, the new Jeff Beck, the Yardbirds’ (a big one in the States, that), Donovan’s `Sunshine Superman’, ‘Mellow Yellow’, `Epistle To Dippy’, plus 25 albums . . .”
He attacked another piece of the fish on his plate.
“Herman’s Hermits rely on me one hundred per cent.” he volunteered. “Donovan . . . well… a little different. He still wants to be independent.
“But Don has the good sense to take advice and if he writes 15 songs and I don’t like any of them, he`ll probably shrug and do some more.
“It’s more of a ‘performance’ to record Donovan than some of my other artists. Jeff Beck is the same. He thought ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ was a funny song and he didn’t want to do it.
“The trouble is most artists see themselves differently to how I see them. They’ve got a private image of themselves and most times it`s wrong.
“I’ve always had this thing about spotting a hit record. Look at Lulu — ‘Boat That I Row’ is the first record she’s done with me and it’s in the charts. At Decca, they were giving her all the wrong stuff. Tragic, because she’s a fantastic artist.
“When I was a kid and Frankie Laine was all the rage, I remember I’d always be the first to pick out what would make the charts. I’d have bought a coming hit record long before any of the other kids.
“I don’t like any other music but good, commercial pop. That’s what makes me successful. All other kinds of music must become rubbish. I don’t want to know about other kinds of music. I don’t want to taste what people called better music because I feel there isn’t any better.”
Mickie works with the theory that every record in the chart must be good of its kind simply because it’s there.
But it doesn’t stop him disliking records like “Release Me,” or “Puppet On A String,” which he describes as “a joke song.”
For a few minutes the conversation seemed to veer between the spending habits of the English (“the meanest in the world,” says the man with the Most); Aden (“we should just take over and show them”), poverty in India and Africa (“don’t kid me, they’re not that bad”) and money in general (“did you know I earn more than Pye Records?”).
About HERMAN, Mickie says: “I saw a picture postcard of him taken in Manchester. With a face like that he couldn’t fail — so I signed him. It’s the cutest face in the world.
“I’m not saying anybody could become a hit on records. But with the character and appeal Herman has in his face, he just has to win.”
LULU, according to Mickie, was a great talent wasted on poor songs. “Songs are the king,” he says, “the most important item in building an artist. That’s why I spend so long in the States combing music publishers’ offices for numbers.
“I’m not saying I can’t find good numbers in this country; it’s just that in the States the field and the choice is so wide. Over there you can go around and find guys at the piano day and night, turning out songs like a way of life.
“Lulu has such a terrific feel for her music. As I say, this `Boat That I Row’ hit is the first we’ve done together, so there isn’t that much I can add. But she’s a real professional.
Of the ANIMALS — with whom he is no longer associated — he says: “I think they resented some people feeling that much of their success was due to me.
“Did you know they didn’t want to record any of the songs that were their hits — ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ and so on? They didn’t like any of ’em!
“Another thing you have to remember is this. If someone is in a group, he`ll never get rich. Even if the group makes a million dollars, it’ll still virtually disappear by the time it’s shared out, and expenses and the tax man have had their bite. That could well have something to do with their split-up.”
How come an out-of-work singer – which is what Mackie was at one time — has risen to a point where he can talk almost casually about a million dollars?
“Luck,” says Mickie. “When the Beatles opened the door to the U.S. disc market, I was lucky enough to be right behind them with the Animals and Herman.
“Before the Beatles, the Americans looked on England as a joke. Now the English products are a very, very big market.
“DONOVAN is very big in the States and he’ll get bigger. He is a very much improved artist. I think he’s got a marvellously strong voice, and I make him sing very close and down to the mike, to give him warmth.”
Mickie would welcome an opportunity to wax TOM JONES . . an artist he admires intensely for his feeling and vocal power. “He is a great singer” he says. “And he has a lot more soul than many of these Negro so-called soul stars.”
Finally, as recording manager for the YARDBIRDS, Mickie realises that they’ve slipped in Britain recently, and he feels it might be because their records have been too way-out.
“Little Games’ is half and half,” he told me. “A good number, with some of the Yardbirds’ style thrown in as well.”
We left the restaurant and walked through the noise of Oxford Street to Woolworth’s, where Mickie intended to buy a copy of “The Boat That I Row”, in order “to boost sales” and because he needed a copy in a hurry.
After a long wait and a browse through their records – most of which seemed to be Mickie Most productions – no one came and we left again.
“That’s the trouble with this country,” he said sorrowfully. “No interest. Me, I hustle for every penny.”
He does, too. Mickie may be too blunt, honest and straightforward to many people, but he’s got gallons of go-go and he knows how to go farthest on them. And that’s what his artists – and the charts need plenty of!