Speaking Words of
How Mike Berry Introduced
Paul McCartney Into the World of Music Publishing
By Bill Harry
Mike Berry is something of a legend in the British music scene, due to his remarkable success in the field of music publishing.
Born in Hull, Yorkshire, he originally began his career in the music business in 1964 when he became deejay on the offshore pirate radio station Radio City where he also supplied tape programmes for two U.S. stations.
He says, "I first met the Beatles at 8.30 on Friday, December 3 1965 at the Odeon, Glasgow when I tried to record an interview with them for the soon to open local pirate station Radio Scotland.
"There was just myself and the four Beatles and I was scared out of my wits to face John Lennon.
"When asked by George Harrison 'What's your first question?' all I could think to say was, 'is there any booze around?'"
It broke the ice and descended into Goon-type chaos.
He told me, "One night on shore I met up with a promotion man from Robbins Music who asked me if I fancied 'sitting in' for two weeks at a new publishing company, Sparta Music, while its MD Hal Shaper was away.
"Apart from a year at Apple, I was there for twenty years!"
The first group Mike was involved with was the Moody Blues, who had just topped the British charts with 'Go Now.' Mike's first hit as a music publisher was with 'Shotgun Wedding' by Roy C. He said, "I heard it in a seedy club in Gerrard Street, London and waited several hours until late in the evening when the owner kindly opened the jukebox to allow me to write down the details of the record's American origin."
Mike arranged for Roy C to appear in London at Tiles club in Oxford Street. but he was dumbfounded to discover that the artist could only sing two numbers. After he'd finished the two numbers, to rapturous applause, Roy C asked the audience 'should I sing them again?' The response was positive and he sang the two numbers four times that night.
"My first big writer signing," says Mike, "was my then friend David Bowie, and it was his very first publishing agreement."
In 1966 Mike began to meet the Beatles down at the Scotch of St James club in London and they were aware of the number of hits he'd been having as a music publisher.
"Following the success and hits in 1967, someone recommended me to the Beatles to help run their fledgling company Apple Publishing, during which time I signed the Iveys, later to become Badfinger and writers of the multi-million seller 'Without You.'
"I had first seen them down at the Flamingo Club and thought they were the best writers of pop songs since Ray Davies."
Mike recalls, "I met Terry Doran in December 1967 and told him I was loath to leave Sparta, but that the prospect of Apple was exciting. It was a new company, the prospect of working for the Beatles was at that time the peak of my short career. I knew that my involvement with them would introduce me to a world of influential people.
"Terry gave me a couple of days to think it over. I was urged to take the job by everyone I knew and rang him to confirm my salary. He offered me £25 a week, which, after a drunken lunch, was increased to £30.