Mike Oldfield Gets Back The Rights To Tubular Bells

The Times reports that Mike Oldfield has regained the rights to his trademark work, Tubular Bells:

This will be a landmark year for the musician and composer, now 54. In personal terms, it has brought an addition to his family in their new hillside home high above the Balearic island’s capital. And career-wise it will bring not only the release of his first fully classical album, Music of the Spheres, but the return to his control of his first and most famous recording, 1973’s Tubular Bells. “I can still remember being in the kitchen of the Manor at Shipton-on-Cherwell [then owned by the fledgling entrepreneur Richard Branson], about to sign this two-page contract,” he says. “Someone pointed out that it was for 35 years, but I couldn’t get my head around the fact. I was just 19 and couldn’t conceive of 2008 ever arriving. Now, of course, it’s here.”

In an autobiography, Changeling, published last year, he told how by putting his signature to that two-page agreement, he tied himself in to a ten-album contract with a less-than-generous royalty rate (effectively, Branson was his record company, his publisher and his manager). Only after delivering that full quota of recordings was there a renegotiation of terms and, while a more favourable arrangement was reached for a further three years (in 1990 he left Virgin for good), he wrote that the two men then didn’t speak for some time.

Tubular Bells helped send Richard Branson on his way to being a billionaire and Oldfield seems to have done alright for himself, too. N

Not sure where this will leave Tubular Bells 2003 – Oldfield’s 30 year anniversary rerecording. It’s a great version, but it also seemed like it may have been a way of making some money off his seminal work.

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