The George Peckham
Part Three: Apple
By George Peckham
I joined Apple Studios in November 1968 as a trainee cutting engineer, being the sound engineer who would balance the sound and then cut the Master Disc which goes to the factory - and then all vinyl is pressed from this. I was also to assist at Apple Electronics Magic Alex’s division at Boston Place by Marylebone Station. This was where Mr. Magic would churn out loads of his inventions such as a light box which in conjunction with your record player would have flashing lights flicker with the music - a wonderful invention when you consider that about 80% came back for repair as they failed to work after a short time!
Mr. Magic was also building a Studio Desk for the Beatles new Studio, supposedly incorporating the latest technology which when it was delivered to Savile Row and assembled, was instantly called the “White Elephant” as it was finished in white leather. But it was massive! The knobs on the desk were of an older technology ‘big knobs,’ the panels across the rear of the desk that would face into the Studio from the control room didn’t really kick off. In fact most of the desk struggled to get going at all. Everybody was very upset as we all thought that Magic Alex had let the Beatles down and perhaps he wasn’t so ‘Magic’ after all.
There were also other problems within his design of the studio. He had left the old wooden fireplace which was beautiful but NOT acoustically correct, as any sounds made in the Studio would go echoing up the chimney then would come back down a few seconds later giving you an automatic echo whether you wanted it or not. Yet his ideas on panels on the walls was a very good idea, being one side total steel shiny side, the other side being packed with thick sponge making it absorb sounds so you could open panels and close others to obtain the right kind of acoustic sound to suit the instruments being played at the time.
Anyway getting back to the ‘White Elephant’ - it coughed and spluttered, came on, went off, and generally gave everyone a hard time. About that point the Beatles decided that if they were going to make classic music in their own Studio they would have to do a re-build, which they did.
An architect called Victor Charlton came round looking at the building to give the Beatles what kind of figure and how long this master plan could take. There were lots of discussions and eventually we were told that work would commence, but we would have to make our base over at Apple Electronics building. The Cutting Room would be moved there so I, Malcolm Davis, John Smith, Claude Harper, Eddie Klein and Geoff Emerick would all be working from there.
I will now go through who the previous names are: Malcolm Davis was a cutting engineer who was stolen from Abbey Road. It was Mal who trained me in as a cutting engineer. He did a very good job and I know that he is proud of what I have achieved because of him.
John Smith also was ‘stolen’ from Abbey Road. John was a good transfer engineer who I taught later to master vinyl.
Claude Harper was another poaching from Abbey Road. He was and still is a very good technical engineer. Both Claude and I did work down at John’s Studio in Ascot in preparation for him to record - which he did record his “Imagine” album and lots of other tracks in too.
Eddie Klein worked with Claude on the technical side and would you believe that he was also stolen from Abbey Road!