The Mike Oldfield Story

Tubular Bells: The Mike Oldfield Story tells the story of one of the most iconic recordings of all time and the man behind it.

Video summary:

In 1973, an album was released that against all odds and expectations went to the top of the UK charts. The fact the album launched a record label that became one of the most recognisable brand names in the world (Virgin), formed the soundtrack to one of the biggest movies of the decade (The Exorcist), became the biggest selling instrumental album of all time, would eventually go on to sell over 16 million copies and was performed almost single-handedly by a 19-year-old makes the story all the more incredible. That album was Tubular Bells, and the young and painfully shy musician was Mike Oldfield.

This documentary features contributions from Sir Richard Branson, Danny Boyle, Mike’s family and the original engineers of the Tubular Bells album among others. The spine of the film is an extended interview with Mike himself, where he takes us through the events that led to him writing Tubular Bells – growing up with a mother with severe mental health problems; the refuge he sought in music as a child, with talent that led to him playing in folk clubs aged 12 and signing with his sister’s folk group at only 15; his frightening experience of taking LSD at 16; and finally arriving at the Manor Recording Studios as a young session musician where he gave a demo tape to a recording engineer who passed it along to young entrepreneur Richard Branson.

After the album’s huge success, Mike retreated to a Hereford hilltop, shunned public life and became a recluse until he took part in a controversial therapy which changed his life.

In 2012 Mike captured the public’s imagination once again when he was asked to perform at the London Olympic Opening Ceremony, where Tubular Bells was the soundtrack to 20 minutes of the one-hour ceremony.

Filmed on location at his home recording studio in Nassau, Mike also plays the multiple instruments of Tubular Bells and shows how the groundbreaking piece of music was put together.

via Micheál Burke

11 thoughts on “The Mike Oldfield Story

  1. as a kid i was completely fascinated by this album. i remember played the end of part one over and over.
    it sounds a little silly now but it was cool when i was a kid.

    in 1992 i got the “sequel” Tubular Bells II.
    its worth it for the song The Bell if only to hear Snape (Allen Rickman) announce all the instruments.

  2. was so inspired by this album. was so disappointed by TB II album. mainly the drum sound, which was so drum-machine 90s rock sounding with this big reverb and really dated and naff. I always felt like he was talked into making TB2 too “contemporary” …forcing him to put vocals over it.

  3. Mike is a huge hero to me, the living embodiment of the Ever-Popular Tortured Artist Effect. Here is a fine example of the load carried by people who are so gifted, their eyes are permanently crossed mentally. I strongly recommend “Crises” and “Five Miles Out” as particularly striking. “Crises” includes the great singer Maggie Reilly of the folk-rock group Pentangle on “Moonlight Shadow.” What a superior choice, with a voice like a bell. Also very highly recommended: “Amarok,” an hour-long opus that rather consolidates most of what Mike does so well, in great stages as it progresses. Its both rich and hilarious. Regrettably, his often-orchestral style would probably fall flat with those who see Daft Punk as the proverbial sh*t, but if you take the time to immerse yourself in a few honest listenings, you’ll either give up playing music or start woodshedding even harder. Mike is part of why I chose the latter and am glad of it. His music still grabs me, but he also made me demand better of myself in my own noodlings. That’s a big win-win. Thanks, Mike.

  4. This isn’t the story of Mike Oldfield. Its the story of Tubular Bells (and a small part of Hergest Ridge). Such a shame that everything else after that is missing.

  5. The Guvnor is right – it’s really the story of Oldfield creating Tubular Bells – but it’s still a fascinating hour!

    Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn aren’t as famous, but are equals to Tubular Bells.

    Oldfield has an amazing discography and a lot of it makes great use of keyboards and effects. The only real duds for me are his Killing Fields soundtrack and Music of the Spheres. His instrumental tracks are almost always interesting, his vocal tracks less so.

  6. Ohh man memories. MO is my musical hero, he is a reason i started to listen and than later to produce electronic music, a fantastic watch to ANY music fan!

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