It is quite unusual to be able to see a movie, leave the cinema and walk down the road to where the action took place. Anybody intending to see Nick Moran’s newly-released “Telstar” might therefore want to see it at the otherwise-unprepossessing Holloway Odeon.

Starring Con O’Neill as maverick record producer and songwriter Joe Meek and Kevin Spacey as his business partner Major Banks, the movie tells the story of Meek’s rise and fall, beginning with his 1962 hit single Telstar. Named for and inspired by an early communication satellite, this instrumental track was recorded by Meek’s band The Tornadoes at his makeshift recording studio, located above a leather goods shop at 304 Holloway Road, a few minutes walk away from the Odeon.

Telstar reached No 1 on both sides of the Atlantic, but Meek’s success was short lived. Hampered by paranoia, drug use, depression and a ferocious temper, his career began to falter and he fell into debt. Many of his problems likely arose from being an openly gay man in an era when homosexuality was barely tolerated.

The downward spiral ended in tragedy on 3 February 1967 when Meek shot his landlady after an argument about unpaid rent and then turned the gun on himself.

Holloway Odeon.

Poster promoting “Telstar” at Holloway Odeon’

304 Holloway Road today – now a convenience store.

Privately-manufactured plaque marking the location of the studio. Above can be seen a satellite dish, an ironic commentary on how satellite communication soon became commonplace.

© Christopher Seddon 2009


Author: prehistorian

Prehistorian & author