March 29, 2023
Mike Oldfield

It’s Autumn 1972. John Cale is vacating The Manor, a picturesque residential studio nestled in the Oxfordshire hills. It’s a recent acquisition by a budding music impresario called Richard Branson. The next artist booked in the studio is a wan, taciturn 19-year-old virtually unknown called Mike Oldfield. Noticing a shining silver set of tubular bells among Cale’s equipment, Oldfield asks if he can add it to the two dozen instruments he’ll use to record his one-man symphony, tentatively titled Opus One

Re-titled Tubular Bells and released the following year, after a slow start the almost all-instrumental album went on to become a commercial and cultural phenomenon, and launched Oldfield as one of the UK’s most acclaimed composers. The first album to be released on Branson’s fledgeling Virgin Records, its massive worldwide sales bankrolled the label for years to come and set Branson on course to becoming the country’s most recognisable captain of industry. 

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