The Story Behind “The Teenage Opera”
by Mark Wirtz
One upon a time, in January of 1967, I had a dream. Not a daydream, or a
fantasy, but a real dream in my sleep. Actually, it was more like a dreamlette- about an
aging door-to-door grocer named Jack in a small, turn of the century village, who was
as mocked by the children as he was taken for granted by the town folk. When Jack
unexpectedly died, the town folk reacted with anger about the inconvenience of now
having to be self reliant about their staple provision, while the children were
heartbroken, in truth having loved and appreciated Jack all the while.
That was it. Simple as that. Little did I know, that this innocent “dreamlike”
would turn into “The Teenage Opera,” which soon twisted my fate into a real life
opera far more dramatic and plot filled than the musical one could ever have been. Its
life altering impact and consequences not only resonate and haunt me to this day, but
the saga is a still ongoing one - 30 years later.
To trace the true moment of birth of the Teenage Opera, not just the story of
“Grocer Jack” (which has been, and will forever remain symbolically synonymous with
T. O. ), we need to go back to January of 1966, when, in a small studio on London’s
Bond Street, I experimented with a musical vision by independently producing my
composition “A Touch Of velvet - A Sting Of Brass” under the moniker “Mood
Mosaic.” My vision was as simple as it was ambitious, and evolved as a theme which
formed the core of my music work throughout my career - to create movies on record.
Sonic, sensually graphic “movies” which, projected on the “big screen” in the listener’s
mind and heart, would touch the audience into an experience as seen through the eyes
of their own imagination, viscerally interpreted by their own unique emotions.
“A Touch Of Velvet...” (the musical portrayal of a love making event) was the
original, primitive prototype of what I aspired to - a recording which, much like
making a movie, made the musical experience the “Star,” rather than a featured artist
whose image and typical style would limit the freedom and possibilities of
instrumentation and sound concepts. My idea was to select all participants in my
“movies on record” just like “casting” actors and technical crew in a film. My vision
didn’t stop there. In order to have the same freedom of change of “ambiance,” “color,”
and “scenery” which you have in movie making by “shooting” different segments in
varying locations, with different “characters,” I implemented a method by which I
recorded my “movies on record” in separately recorded “scenes” that I would later edit,
cross-fade and ultimately “melt” together into a seamless whole. This method drove
musicians and sound engineers crazy at first, until they heard the finished result by
which they were so impressed that they changed from being indignant opponents to
enthusiastic fans and “partners”.
Speaking of driving coworkers crazy, in this case sound engineers, there was one
further practice of mine to which I stubbornly adhered, turning most mixing board
jockeys with whom I worked into nervous wrecks - my insistence on recording tracks
“live,” INCLUDING sound effects. Instead of leaving things like echoes, equalization,
limiting/compression and other effects to the eventual “mix” (a method which was and
still remains the norm in music recording to allow for the freedom of later
experimentation), I recorded (and thereby indelibly “locked in”) the finished sounds at
the time of the performance. My attitude was simply, “If I want a fat man on tape, I
record a fat man, not a thin man and then force-feed him later”.
Furthermore, I recorded all principal music tracks in true stereo, including
rhythm sections, an utterly unprecedented procedure in Rock recording at the time,
when the pop music market was based on the sale of singles that were released strictly
in mono. Only in the event of LP releases, which, at the time were mere compilations
of an artist’s or band’s previously released singles hits, were stereo mixes “contrived”
as an afterthought to cater, as the mono version’s companion, to the only marginal
market of stereo record buyers.
These “fake” stereo mixes were usually far inferior to their mono counterparts.
Done in a rush, they simply generated isolated, non-fused “left, middle and right”
sound images, by randomly allocating however many mono-recorded tracks there were
on the original multi-track master tape to techno-strategically rather than music-true
designated positions. To wit, even the Beatles, who spent several weeks lovingly
mixing the mono master of their fabled “Sgt. Pepper’s” LP, let George Martin mix the
stereo version in a couple of days, without even bothering to make an appearance to
monitor and protect the fidelity of their vision. Moreover, as it was not uncommon to
add additional music parts during the original mono mix (due to saturation of available
tracks on the multi track master tape), these “extras” were missing in the stereo mixes,
as was the case in a number of Beatles stereo versions of their work.)
What made it possible for me to record the original performances in true stereo,
was the fact that, instead of typically “building” the music arrangement, of a tune in
the studio by overdubbing impulsive improvisations on stacked, separate tracks, my
music parts were meticulously prepared and orchestrated before I even walked into the
studio, thus basically consuming only two tracks per performance (to perhaps later be
joined by two further, corresponding tracks via overdubs - yet still in true stereo)
instead of numerous ones in the random stacking method. With every note written that
would be played, my main challenge was to write my orchestration charts in such a
way that they still had a feel of spontaneity and improvisation to them without
sounding written. Given the above, my ‘true stereo” recording method added yet even
more challenges and frustrations to engineers who, I am sure, felt like strangling me at
I must at this point acknowledge and salute, in infinite admiration, gratitude and
respect, maestro engineer Geoff Emerick (the TRUE genius creator of the legendary
“Abbey Road Sound), my lifelong buddy and teammate in the most significant works
of my career. Geoff was the one and only exception in my eternal (if friendly) battles
with engineers. From the first day Geoff and I worked together, we formed an instant
alliance and bond of mutual understanding, passion and creative courage. I cannot
recall a single instant when I proposed a daring idea or quest which Geoff didn’t only
support, but contributed to with unflappable faith and dedication - often making the
But, I am jumping ahead. At the time of completing “A Touch Of velvet,”
meeting Geoff Emerick, as well as the opportunity to pursue any further efforts in the
realization of my “movies on record” vision, was still a year away. In the meantime,
EMI Records accepted and released my master of “TOV,” which became an instant
“turn table hit” and popular theme on several international radio or TV shows.
Encouraged by TOV’s success, I proceeded to independently produce a number of
further recordings with various artists which I “discovered” while also hunting for
outside production opportunities around town. Beyond lending my own, distinctive
arranging style to them, the resulting recordings were for most part conventional in
format, and none of them became hits (though eventually valued collectors items).
Nevertheless, they not only gave me the opportunity to hone my craft and develop my
studio and arranging skills, but stood out enough to prick the ears and attention of
people in the industry. Two pairs of those ears would ultimately not only influence the
fate of “Teenage Opera,” but in consequence my entire career.
The first pair of those ears belonged to noted impresario Robert Stigwood. Little
did I suspect that my meeting with him would ultimately lead to the biggest mistake of
my career. Robert was listening to the playback of one of my works when he quite
suddenly and unexpectedly propositioned me. In fairness to, and respect for Mr.
Stigwood, I must state in retrospect that, as “passes” go in the sexually freewheeling
world of the music business and the entertainment world in general, Mr. Stigwood’s
“foray” was the most dignified and benign I would ever experience again in the “biz”.
In fact, Stigwood was a mere “Tinker bell’ compared to the gross advances which I
would later experience routinely, especially in Hollywood. With gentleman demeanor,
Robert not only yielded to my resistance and apologized, but gallantly summoned his
chauffeur to drive me home.
Nevertheless, still very young and innocently naive at the time - not to mention
my morally conditioned Catholic background - I was traumatized by this first event of
its kind, leaving me with an impression that haunted me for some time to come.
The second pair of ears were those of notoriously eccentric “bad boy” of
Rock’n’Roll, US producer Kim Fowley, who was on an extended visit in London when
we first met. Taken with my production and arrangement of the Beach Boy’s tune “I’m
Waiting For The Day” with my female artist discovery “Peanut”, he not only hired me
to produce and arrange several tracks for him (including his own “They’re coming To
Take Me Away, Haha”), but quickly became my champion and tutor as much as my
hero. I was mesmerized with Kim’s flamboyance, unique thinking, reckless courage
and utter disregard for music business convention, or protocol. To me, Kim - the
eternal, paradoxical commuter between the gutter and esoteric supremacy - a pig and a
saint, a fool and a genius - truly personified the ultimate spirit of Rock’n’Roll.
One of Kim’s many idiosyncrasies was his habit to preface virtually every noun
with the adjective “teenage.” He would catch a “teenage” taxi to a “teenage” restaurant
where he would order a “teenage steak,” before making his way to a “teenage” studio
to cut a “teenage” record. No wonder, that to this day, Kim remains, in mind and
spirit, the oldest teenager in the world.
Our friendship and mutual admiration having united us into a virtual partnership,
I was only too happy to accept Kim’s invitation to join him on his forthcoming return
journey to Hollywood, where he intended to promote me as his new, imported
“Teenage Genius” discovery.
My Pan Am airline ticket was in my pocket, my suitcases were packed and I was
charged and ready for my transplantation to Hollywood, when three days before the
departure date, EMI’s product manager Roy Featherstone, at the behest of EMI’s head
of A&R, Norrie Paramour, requested a meeting with me during which he offered me a
contract to join EMI as a producer with virtually unlimited creative freedom. Unable to
resist, I accepted and canceled my plans with Kim Fowley, whom, subsequent to his
return to the US, I would not meet or have any contact with again until 10 years later
when, upon my relocation to Los Angeles, we reunited for a number of major projects
(including hit albums with Helen Reddy and Leon Russell). Yet, his spirit remained
with me as inspiration and motivation.
Within only a day or so after my meeting with Roy Featherstone, my new
contract with EMI was signed and filed. Remember, those were the days when there
were no such things yet as “negotiations” or “advances” in the record business, and the
protective involvement of a lawyer was unthinkable. There was simply an offer and a
subsequent acceptance or rejection. EMI’s offer to me was understood to be
specifically as a producer, and as such simple and clear, with a financial consideration
of a £ 30.00 a week salary, a 1% royalty, plus basic arrangement and conducting fees
in accordance with musicians union terms. After briefly reassuring myself that the
financially related clauses were as verbally agreed, I signed the contract in good faith
without even reading the rest of the legal lingo. Coincidentally. Only a week later,
Tony Roberts and Ian Ralfini signed me to an exclusive publishing contract to Robins
Music as a composer/writer.
The EMI Studios on Abbey Road
My EMI contract officially began January 1st, 1967. By January 7th I was in
Abbey Road’s studio 3, lifting my baton to count in the orchestra for my first
production under the new deal (a rock version of “Only You” with Jackie Lynton). The
engineer assigned to me for the project was Geoff Emerick, who had recently been
promoted from tape operator to mixing engineer.
Far from the exciting experience I had expected from my first recording at
Abbey Road Studios, it was a chilling, sobering nightmare. Having been spoiled, and
come to taking for granted, the up to date facilities and equipment of the various top
London recording studios in which I had previously worked, while living up to its
reputation as one of the world’s finest classical music recorders, EMI studios were at
that time (in contradiction to myth and legend) an antiquated, ill equipped can of
worms for Rock recording. (Only by the end of the decade had the studio developed
and evolved as one of the most formidable high-tech rock recording facilities in the
To be fair, the room acoustics, vast archive of microphones, electronic wiring
and technical maintenance of all three studios were superb. And yet, while towering as
a Nirvana for classical music lovers and sound purists, it was hell for us Rockers, who
liked our sound brash, processed and distorted. The mixing consoles offered only the
most elementary equalization options, consisting of a master switch which let you
chose between a “pop” or “classical” setting, two old time radio-like equalization knobs
assigned to each fader (one for the frequency adjustment of “bass” the other for
“treble”) and some meaningless sound filter switches. In terms of outboard equipment,
a few Fairchild limiters/compressors serving all three rooms were available, so long as
they were booked well in advance (sort of like several toilets sharing one flusher for
which you had to make prior reservations). Oh, yes, there were also a couple of
graphic equalizer that, upon request and after processing of a lot of red tape, would be
delivered and installed by one of the white coated union technicians who had to be
summoned from a mysterious and deistic “upstairs” (which none of us lower mortals
were ever allowed to visit), and who, according to union rules, were the only ones
allowed to touch or move or position any piece of equipment, cables, or microphones.
If the lack of outboard sound processing gear made our life difficult, the sterile,
glossy echo chambers made it downright miserable. As wonderful as these pure
reverberators were for the classical boys, they were a curse to us Rockers, leaving us
with a rather metallic sounding EMT plate as our only alternative, until we resorted to
all kinds of tape delay experiments and the frequent use of Abbey Road’s ground floor
toilet which had the most terrific vocal echo. It was this resourcefulness, forced by
necessity, which became the breeding ground for all our evolving sound innovations, in
which we were eventually supported and assisted by two Rock’n'Roll-friendly “white
coats” - “Crazy Bernie” and Eddie Klein. Defying all rules, they became our silent
audio partners and secretly invented and built all kinds of marvelous sound processing
equipment for us (among them the famous “presence box”, an equalizer which sizzled
with a zillion db’s of broad-banded 10 kc treble, making everything shine and sparkle).
All in all, for better or worse, no matter how many grievances and frustrations I
initially felt working at Abbey Road, there was no point in complaining, let alone
attempting to seek refuge in another studio. Abbey Road was the only game in town
for us - all EMI producers were contractually bound to work there exclusively. In
terms of history, that curse turned out to be a blessing. Not in spite of, but because of
all of the prevalent challenges and limitations, and our experimentation and
inventiveness in overcoming them, did the resulting music works evolve as among the
most creative and profound in pop music history.
By early February, 1967, Geoff Emerick and I had become an inseparable team,
at the time working on the “Mood Mosaic” LP, when, shortly after arriving at the
control room for an early morning session, I took Geoff aside and shared my “Grocer
Jack” dream with him. Geoff looked at me, as intrigued as bewildered and simply said,
“Sounds interesting. Would make a jolly good fairy tale. But - a Rock record??”
I just nodded, smiling with mischievous confidence. “No, not just a Rock record
- a Rock Opera. A movie on record. Wide screen, Technicolor. Special effects. With a
cast of hundreds.”
“Hmmm…,” responded Geoff, “with which artist?”
“I don’t know. ‘Doesn’t matter,” I stated blithely, “we record all the music first,
and then we decide whom to cast as a soloist.”
“EMI will never approve a budget for a recording with no artist,” said Geoff,
being quite realistic.
“True,” I agreed. “So, let’s make it officially part of the “Mood Mosaic” project.
“Mood Mosaic” is all orchestral and background singers and has no featured artist.”
Then, I proceeded to explain to Geoff my plan of recording the work in separate
“scenes” at the end of regular sessions, taking advantage of the varying orchestras and
bands, as well as the boundless options of varying sound configurations.
Geoff nodded enthusiastically. “Sounds exciting. What are you gonna call it? We
need a title, for the paperwork.”
‘Teenage’ Kim Fowley flashed to mind. “Let’s call it ‘Excerpt from A Teenage
Opera,’ “ I suggested impulsively. “That way, if the single is a hit, people will want an
entire LP of the whole opera.”
Geoff grinned. “Let’s do it. When do we start?”
Less than a week later, The Teenage Opera had its first studio curtain rise as the
opening bars of “Grocer Jack” sounded through the control room monitors. A dream
was becoming a reality.
Over the following two months, bit by bit, section by section, ‘scene by scene,’
the music track segments for “Grocer Jack” grew, EMI having no idea what I was up
to. The biggest strategic, political challenge was the recording of the famous children
segments, which I “cast" with children from the London Corona school. There was no
way I could “hide” the expense of the childen’s fees in regular, “official” session paper
work. In order to prevent arousing suspicion, or stirring the political waters, I simply
made a deal with Corona and paid for the kids’ performance out of my own pocket.
Best money I ever spent.
The staggered recording process was prolonged by the fact that I had to share
Geoff Emerick with George Martin and the Beatles, who were also working on a
project at the same time. Geoff had taken over as the Beatles engineer from veteran
sound master Norman Smith, who had moved up to join EMI’s creative staff as the
producer of “Pink Floyd.” Nevertheless, while using alternative engineers on my other
productions when Geoff was not available, “Teenage Opera” was strictly Geoff’s and
my baby. Only on the rarest occasions did I let any other engineer near it, and even
then only for negligible overdub work.
While “moonlighting’ my work on T. O., one of the parallel “official” projects
that I had been working on, was the single recording of “My White Bicycle” with the
psychedelic Rock band “Tomorrow,” an underground cult favorite featuring
singer/songwriter Keith West and guitarist Steve Howe.
The band and I hit it off immediately. Quickly becoming buddies, It didn’t take long
before I took Keith and Steve into my confidence regarding my “T. O.” project, giving
them a “peak preview” of what Geoff and I had done so far. Steve’s response was so
enthusiastic that he at once offered to contribute his brilliant playing to the project,
while Keith was happy to accept my invitation to not only co-write the “Grocer Jack”
lyrics with me, but to also perform the song as a featured guest vocalist. Thus, I had
found my “artist” for the project, which resolved an increasingly critical issue.
Keith West on Germany's Beat-Club # 24, September 23, 1967
Did I ever consider performing “Grocer Jack” myself? No way. I was shrewdly
aware that due to the project’s heavily orchestrated concept, which, at the time, was
regarded as very “uncool” and likely to be condescendingly dismissed as “old people’s”
music, I needed a performer whose image was “hip” and seductive to rebellious and
anti establishment Rock fans. Keith fitted the bill perfectly. Not only did he look and
act like a hippie, without being so far out that he might have put off the more mature
audience sector at which I was also aiming, but he had already established himself as a
cult icon in the underground Rock community and, by association, would validate
“Grocer Jack” as a bona fide Rock record.
In contrast, I personally, though slightly eccentric, was anything but typical of a
“Rocker”. I never followed or participated in trends, or assumed the fashions of the
time in my appearance, manners, habits or speech. My Rock’n’Roll was an internal
one, and my rebellion was reflected in my work, not in my personal image or
demeanor, which were “off beat” and casual, but too “straight” to be “hip”. There was
also a Freudian aspect to me which firmly suppressed my deep-down desire to be a
performer, namely the burden of a deeply rooted complex about being a German
immigrant. Ever since a college friend once snapped at me in anger, “The only good
German is a dead one”, I carried that complex around with me in shame, making every
effort to conceal my guilt poisoned heritage for fear of being hated. Consequently, I
promoted my talents and name with the dedication of a stage parent driving an
offspring toward stardom, while personally feeling compelled to avoid public exposure
and hide the “ugly face” of my German guilt behind a veil of phantom-like anonymity.
(My stage shyness was so severe, that when I won the coveted Ivor Novello award for
“Grocer Jack,” I didn’t even show up at the presentation to personally accept it.) Quite
a paradox, when you consider that my original, burning show business ambition was to
become a comedian like Jerry Lewis. Jerry had been my original idol and inspiration
when I was just a kid in Germany, which I had left for England’s more fertile and
talent nurturing pastures [soil] in which to pursue my dream. Music and Rock’n’Roll
had merely been an intended step and strategy on the way to ultimately arriving on the
movie screen. (Talk about, “Wanna make God laugh, tell Him you plans”!) Oh yes,
Freud would have had a ball with me, no doubt.
All in all, in 1967, for me to perform “Grocer Jack” was simply out of the
question. Just as well. Looking back, of all the regrets that I have and mistakes that I
made, and despite all the adversities that loomed up ahead at the time, my choice of
Keith as collaborator and performer of “Grocer Jack” was the right one. And if I had to
do it all over again, I would make the same decision.
As it were, I didn’t even have to wait until “Excerpt” made Keith a Star to prove
my instincts and faith in his and Tomorrow’s success as accurate. Upon release, their
single “My White Bicycle” became an instant cult classic (a status which it has retained
to this day), establishing Keith West and Tomorrow as the UK’s most popular
psychedelic Rock band next to Pink Floyd. EMI were certainly impressed enough to
quickly green-light the production of a follow up single (“Revolution”) and an LP
(“Tomorrow”), which also lived on to become a timeless classic.
By the end of April 1967, “Excerpt from A Teenage Opera” was finally
completed and ready to bring to the ears of the EMI brass in order to get their approval
for an imminent single release.
It was on a Tuesday morning, when a “delegation“ of EMI’s “Manchester
Square” head office executives ceremoniously assembled at Abbey Road’s Studio 3 in
curious anticipation of my “mystery” project’s unveiling. Headed by product manager
Roy Featherstone, the crew consisted mainly of promo and marketing execs, all of
them music “pimps”, not one of them true music lovers. Sadly missing from the
gathering was A&R chief Norrie Paramour, not only my strongest “Manchester
Square” supporter and ally, but himself a distinguished and highly creative music
maker who would have been the only one capable of appreciating my vision and
courage. Thus, I was facing a jury which was much like a group of vegetarians
reviewing a steak house. Nevertheless, I felt such an inner confidence about my work,
certain that its sheer power of originality and grandiosity would melt through any
prejudice or reservations, that I fully expected fireworks of excitement and applause.
On my cue, Geoff hit the tape “play” button and the studio monitors burst into the
bombastic sounds and music for the studio premiere of “Excerpt from a Teenage
There was dead silence when the playback concluded, each member of the
executive staff incredulously staring at the other for a reaction clue. None of them had
ever heard anything like it, and none of them dared to speak up for what seemed like
an eternity. “Children?” Roy Featherstone finally gasped. “Have you gone mad? You
think ANYBODY out there is going to buy a Rock record with CHILDREN on it?”
Roy’s appalled comment burst the damn of silence and released a watcher shed
of condemnation from his colleges “Four minutes long?” - “Classical music merged
The ultimate consensus was not only that of rejection, but outright condemnation
“Absurd record.” - “Would never sell a copy” -” Radio would NEVER play it,”
Bottom line - the audition of “Excerpt” was a dismal bust. Instead of rewarding
me with applause and accolades, the ”committee’s” unanimous verdict was
uncompromisingly final - to can the tape and kill the project.
That would have been the end of it, had it not been for one man - “Radio
Caroline” pirate radio station Disc Jockey John Peel. Introduced to John Peel by Tony
Roberts, who loved “Grocer Jack” and was incensed by EMI’s rejection of it, I played
him an acetate of “Excerpt.” Before the recording had even reached its bombastic
ending, John, with a big grin on his face, opened up the microphone, promised the
listeners a marvelous surprise, then put the needle back to the beginning of the groove
and played the record over the air. Within moments of “Grocer Jack’s” final bars
traveling through the ether, Radio Caroline’s phones lit up like a Christmas tree, from
listeners calling in to request the record to be played again. And again. And again.
EMI had no choice but to rush-release the single at once. By mid-May it reached
the top of the British charts, and within only weeks later, “Excerpt” was released
internationally and made #1 in 16 countries. It seemed like the whole world had caught
“Teenage Opera” fever - except for one, critical territory - America. There, “Excerpt”
suffered the same fate that had initially cursed the Beatles’ work in the US - EMI’s
contractual affiliate Capitol Record’s refusal to even release it. Eventually,
“Excerpt...” was released by Bob Crewe’s independent “DynaVoice” label, but the
company lacked the muscle to promote and market the single effectively enough for it
to equal its success in other countries. At its peak, it barely dented Billboard’s top 100.
With the exception of the US, however, the global infatuation with T. O.,
triggered an international “Blitzkrieg” of frenzied publicity and hype, triggering
speculations, rumors, expectations, fabricated reports and a Pandora’s box full of
questions about Teenage Opera, in particular, “What is the story of Teenage Opera?”
and, “When will it be completed and released in its entirety?”
What had started as crackling sparks of curiosity soon ignited into a bonfire of
mystery, intrigue and hoopla. The circus was in town, and Keith and I were the main
attraction, me up on the high wire, only my profile showing, Keith in the center of the
ring, all lights upon him, rockin’ and rollin.’ We were having a blast, bathing in the
glory and excitement of “Excerpt’s” runaway success. Little did we suspect that the
runaway success would soon hurl us upon a runaway train of confusion, conflicts and
dilemmas, turning a dream into a nightmare.
Promo video for "Excerpt from 'A Teenage Opera'"
To begin with, EMI shocked me with the unthinkable - despite all evidence to
the contrary and ignoring the public’s keen appetite for the complete opera, company
management was convinced that “Excerpt” had merely been a novelty hit, and
stubbornly refused to green-light a go ahead on recording the entire work. Instead,
EMI insisted on a further hit single “excerpt” from the opera before willing to give
their bureaucratically blessings to the expense of an entire album production.
With no choice but to swallow my disappointment and follow EMI’s mandate, I
became determined to not only give my very best shot to another “Excerpt,” but to
make it even bigger and better than “Grocer Jack.”
With the Tomorrow album completed and released, and Keith and the band on
the road, or on TV, enjoying his celebrity and sold out concerts, Geoff and I
commenced work on “Sam,” my most ambitious and challenging work yet. The stakes
were as high as the expectations were overwhelming. After all, “Sam’s” success would
either vindicate T. O. as a viable, credible work of importance, or, in its failure,
condemn it into oblivion.
With everything riding on it, the pressure on me not only politically, but
personally, were immense. With the eyes of the world upon me, expecting me to live
up to all the high reaching promises and anticipation, I was in constant danger of
loosing my creative objectivity. T. O. WAS, after all, a work in progress and
therefore experimental, with occasional failures and setbacks inevitable and to be
expected. Like a yo-yo, I spun up and down through a twilightzone between proud
elation when things worked out well, and anxious panic when they didn’t. Believe me,
there were many moments when I honestly didn’t know whether what I was doing was
brilliant or shit.
The above not withstanding, if making a “hit record” on command was an
absurd proposition at the best of times, to pull another “Grocer Jack” success out of a
hat, from a work as complex as “Teenage Opera,” was a mission as ludicrously
unrealistic as winning a Russian Roulette game. Had Keith and I had a proper manager
in control of the politics, he would never have allowed it. But - we didn’t have one.
The closest thing to it was Keith and Tomorrow’s agent Brian Morrison, a small time
London restaurateur who dabbled in the music business by booking local bands in
small clubs and pubs with aspirations of becoming the next Brian Epstein. Morrison
acted as a manager for Keith and Tomorrow and attempted to get involved in Keith’s
T. O. related affairs, but, beyond being well intentioned and acting as a cheerleader,
Brian was utterly in over his head when it came to the maze of complications and
challenges surrounding a project of T. O. magnitude. As such, Brian was indeed a
cliché example of a blind leading the blind. What we desperately needed was an
experienced, shrewd leader and protector, who could serve as the political architect of
T.O.’s ultimate completion and success.
As fate would have it, a golden opportunity to find exactly that person actually
came up out of the blue, when Keith informed me that he had been called by Robert
Stigwood, inviting him and me for a meeting discuss the possibility of representing us.
I was both taken aback as well as chilled by the news, not to mention the prospect.
With the memory of my personal, prior “meeting” with Stigwood still etched in my
mind, my first reaction was to simply decline and let Keith go by himself, for himself
and Tomorrow. On second thoughts, I decided that my rejection would not only have
been unprofessional, but unfair to Keith, likely to prejudice his chances of at least
finding first class management for himself and his band, even if I were to personally
pass on an association with Robert.
Thus, I reluctantly attended the meeting, unjustly and irrationally still viewing
Robert as an “evil” man. While maintaining a professional yet withdrawn demeanor
during the meeting, I remained silent and aloof, merely listening to Stigwood’s plans
and offer. Since I was viewed as the principal subject of the meeting as the essential
creator and custodian of T.O.’s was left up to me to make any final decisions. At the
conclusion of the conference, I politely shook “Stiggy’s” hand and said goodbye with
the promise to “think about it and call back.” Albeit, I never did call back, which was
my silent expression of a “pass” (ironic pun) on Stigwood’s offer. That effectively
killed the deal altogether. Understandably, Robert Stigwood wanted the whole Teenage
Operas package, not just a piece of it by signing only Keith and Tomorrow.
It is a matter of history that, eventually, Robert signed Tim Rice and Andrew
Llyod Webber instead, to do for them and “Jesus Christ Superstar” what he had
previously been willing to do for me and Keith and Teenage Opera. Thus, I learned a
hard lesson, causing me to wake up to the real world, rather than the wonderful but
prejudicial and hypocritical fairytale land in which I had grown up. But it was too late
for the wake up lesson to benefit Teenage Opera. Stigwood was the proverbial one shot
to crack an egg into a pan, and I had ignorantly blown that shot.
So, without a master plan, a road map, or expert guidance, I proceed to just
follow my heart and my instincts, which were creatively as correct as they were
While work on “Sam” progressed and the music tracks grew, so did the advance
press and publicity hype about T.O.’s upcoming new installment, proliferating the
market with not only speculative, but fictitious reports, predictions, rumors and
misquoted information, consequentially spawning an abundance of misconceptions and
false expectations in the public’s mind, which seriously threatened, even damaged
T.O.’s true concept and credibility.
In the process, Keith and I had become branded and taken for granted as a firmly
bonded “couple” in an artistic marriage as T.O.’s “parents.” In actuality, nothing could
have been further from the truth. At best, Keith and I had a musical “affair” as friends
and mutual fans, but we were hardly ever a “couple”. Contrary to the public’s
erroneous, press-fostered impression, which pictured Keith and I to be spending most
of our time around a piano, or in the studio, brainstorming and working away at the
entire Opera, of all the countless hours we did indeed spent together, either hanging
out, or working in the studio on Tomorrow recordings, the mere handfull of hours we
ever shared together working on T. O. consisted of the time it took to co-write the
lyrics for the only two songs we ever collaborated on, “Grocer Jack” and “Sam,” and
the studio time to record Keith’s vocal performance of them. Far from being partners
In the creation of T. O., Keith had no more of a clue as to what I had in mind and was
concocting regarding T. O., than I had about what he was up to, or going to write next
Well intentioned, but in retrospect erroneously, Keith and I decided to keep our
options open and feed rather than dispel T.O.’s mystery and the public’s misperception
about us (or any other T. O. related specifics for that matter), by simply maintaining a
posture of secrecy and ambiguity.
A particularly critical issue, prompted by the press’ continuous references to “T.
O. ” as a rock musical with a long form drama content, was the ever raised question,
“What was the story of T. O. ?”
Here I was dealing with a rather sticky and ever deepening dilemma:
Even though T. O. was a work in progress, my vision, format and contents of
the Opera had always been crystal clear. Just like movies had metamorphosed and
transcended traditional theater and stage entertainment into a new VISUAL art form,
“Teenage Opera” was the creation of a new AUDIO art form, embracing and utilizing
unprecedented opportunities and freedom of sound and instrumentation which
advanced technology was offering, If the film camera was an EYE that was liberated
from statically observing a stage play from a set distance, free to see anything,
anywhere, any time, from any angle or distance, a microphone was audio’s equivalent
EAR that was equally mobile and capable of unlimited listening possibilities. And just
like the advent of visual image manipulation facilities enhanced and further broadened
film’s creative canvas with special effects, contemporary sound manipulation tools
further opened the door to uncharted lands in audio recording. Those were the lands I
wanted to explore with my “movies on record,” to arrive at discoveries which were
only possible in a recording studio and could no more be presented or duplicated in a
live auditorium, than a movie could be performed on a conventional stage. Thus, The
Teenage Opera was NEVER intended to be performed on a stage, and a musical was
exactly what T. O was NOT. Most significantly and quite contrary to the biggest
misconception of all, T. O. did NOT have a traditional plot or story. A theme? Yes. A
dramatic frame? Yes. But A story? No.
T. O. was in fact a kaleidoscope of stories, a bouquet of allegorical, tragiccomic
tales about a variety of characters and their fate, all related to each other by the
common thread of living in the same imaginary turn-of the-century village. Each
character distinguished him/herself by rebelliously pursuing a dream or lifestyle against
all odds and in defiance of conformity, their ageless celebration of youth and
individuality embodying the very spirit of Rock’n’Roll. As such, my model for
Teenage Opera was Walt Disney’s animated film “Fantasia,” which consisted of a
similar collection of individual “shorts,” yet which thematically all belonged together
in synergy as parts of the entity they shared.
All of the above not withstanding, I will concede that, while repelled by the idea
of T.O. ever being considered, let alone presented as, a stage musical, I most certainly
envisioned it to one day become an animated (not live action) film, thus keeping the
fantasy intact, and securing the soundtrack’s fidelity in its originally recorded form.
(The closest anybody ever came to what I had in mind was the Beatles’ “Yellow
Of all the challenges posed by the public’s firmly cemented false beliefs, to
fulfill their expectation for Keith and I to complete T. O. as a writing “couple” was
the least of my problems. After all, Keith and I enjoyed working together, our ideas
blended wonderfully, and there was an undeniable magic in our collaboration. It made
sense to stick together and go the distance. However, for Keith to be the “Star” of the
opera presented a bigger problem. It not only limited the choice of material, but
completely contradicted my very principal of creating a work which did NOT revolve
around a central “Star” performer. Moreover, a number of name artists (including Cliff
Richard) had expressed enthusiastic interest to participate in the Opera as guest
vocalists, and I intended to take full advantage of their offer.
By far the most worrisome problem, however, which lead me further and further
into a quagmire, was the public’s fixed expectation of a conventional story. For fear of
disappointing the public by the absence of such a story, inviting their rejection of T. O.
altogether, I felt increasingly torn between sticking to my original concept, or
surrender to the pressure of obligation and give them one, thus completely bastardizing
my original vision and intent.
Nevertheless, despite all the pressures and anxieties during the making of “Sam,”
the work on the project progressed well and I felt more and more confident to be in the
process of creating a little masterpiece that would pave the way for T. O. to
ultimately reach its potential. Alas, even before “Sam” was completed, trouble and
confusion began to brew.
To begin with, EMI’s legal department suddenly “discovered” that my
production contract with the company included a clause to which I had ignorantly
agreed, automatically rendering the publishing rights for all of my compositions to
EMI’s publishing company for the term of the agreement. Concurrently also signed to
an exclusive song writing contract with Robins Music, I suddenly found myself in
breach of both contracts. A serious publishing dispute erupted, which temporarily
halted all my recordings and put “Sam” into suspension, pending a settlement.
Fortunately, my agreement to give up 50% of all of my royalties to EMI, thereby
making up for their lost revenue to Robins, settled the matter sooner than feared.
Nevertheless, the dispute had caused a costly setback. (Ironically, EMI Music
Publishing and Robins Music merged in later years, while my settlement loss remained
in force permanently.)
The second event was a potentially catastrophic one - my most crucial
supporters, the airwaves ruling Pirate radio stations, facilitated on boats in the British
channel outside the legal limits, were suddenly shut down by the government.
Overnight, the BBC, with only few weekly hours of programming time dedicated to a
limited play list of Rock and pop music, were once again in total control as Britain’s
sole music output monopoly with the dictatorial power to make or break a record by
either playing it, or not.
The third “shock to the system” was a complete change of policies and upper
management at EMI’s Manchester Square headquarters. A&R chief Norrie Paramour,
not only my champion and most loyal ally, but also the only executive of note who
understood music, was replaced by a new creative head, a Mr. Beecher-Stevens, whose
resume of corporate management was impressive, yet lacked any previous association
with, or even interest in music and records. Producers and other creative staff were
stripped of their individual freedom of creative decision making, which was taken over
by a committee that gathered in a weekly “A&R meeting” to deliberate and decide
upon all project developments and new artist signings.
Though feeling concerned and threatened by the events and changes, I felt secure
enough about the importance of T. O. to believe its fate to be safe from any
detrimental interference. Surely, the BBC would play “Sam,” and, assuming its
success, surely EMI, out of sheer self-interest, would happily leave me a free hand in
completing and releasing a T. O. LP as soon as possible.
Finally, the day arrived when, shortly before its public release date, the finished
“Sam” recording was presented to the industry and press in a “studio premiere.” It was
an awesome event. Abbey Road’s Studio 3 was packed wall-to-wall with people, and
the air sizzled with electricity as everybody awaited the “big moment”. And when the
“moment” arrived, it became the spectacular highlight of T.O.’s life. In contrast to
“Grocer Jack’s” private little “premiere”, ”Sam” was greeted with breathless applause
and accolades, hailed as brilliant and sensational. The sentiments expressed during this
“premiere” were reflected in the press’ subsequent frenzy of reports and rave reviews,
predicting T.O.’s ultimate triumph.
Alas, as it turned out, this moment in time was not only T.O.’s pinnacle of
eminence, but also its final hurrah. Upon release, despite the initial hype and
promotion, the BBC played the record only rarely. Consequently, even though enough
people heard and bought the single to make it a hit, the sales figures paled in
comparison to “Grocer Jack’s”.
Nevertheless, at least further enamored by “Sam”, the public’s hunger for the
complete work remained as vital as ever, once again raising the question, “When will
T. O. come out as an entity?”
EMI, instead of getting the message and giving the go-ahead on T.O.’s
completion, management insisted on yet another random “excerpt” single to make up
for what “Sam” had failed in, thus validating the expense of a complete LP. That
meant more delays, more pretensions, more excuses and more deceptions in the upkeep
of T.O.’s promise.
From here on in, what had started and evolved as a wonderful dream, sank
further and further into a steady decline. As a result, Keith and my enthusiasm and
ambitious excitement about T. O. not only turned to deep frustration and despondence,
but, worse, caused a fragmentation between us. With Keith’s chances of transcending
his potential status as “one hit wonder” to solid Star now in jeopardy, he once again
focused on Tomorrow as his success vehicle. Trouble was, Tomorrow’s significance as
a band had been diminished to merely peripheral by all the attention given to Keith as
the “guy from the Teenage Opera.” Even if his and Tomorrow’s concerts still drew
huge crowds, people came to hear Keith sing “Grocer Jack” and “Sam,” not “My White
Bicycle,” or “Revolution.” Disgusted by Keith’s mainstream success, and accusing him
of having “sold out,” Tomorrow’s hard core fans had turned their back and deserted
the band in droves.
In an attempt to recapture his lost followers, Keith decided that, while remaining
friends, it would be best for us to break our creative ties. After publicly denouncing
any further association with Teenage Opera, he proceeded to go into the studio with the
band and my sympathetic blessings to self-produce a new single. The press
immediately ran with the news and stirred up the waters with the bold lettered
announcement, “Teenage Opera Team Splits Up!” Public reaction to the report could
not have been more incredulously disappointed if they had they been told that
Disneyland burned down. Unaware of all the preceding behind-the-scenes idiocies and
political crap, people’s illusion not only cracked, but split wide open when it became
apparent that, contrary to popular belief, the writing of the entire opera was as far from
completion as the recordings of it.
Questions and doubts abounded, as general enthusiasm, support of and faith in T.
O. turned to skepticism, suspicion, even indigence and a sense of betrayal. Had the
whole Teenage Opera shabam just been a con? Would there ever actually be such a
thing in reality? Or, as one newspaper sarcastically quipped, should T. O., by the time
it was actually finished and released be more appropriately entitled “The Senior
Even I honestly didn’t know the answers anymore. Lost in an abyss of confusion
and deflation, all I knew was that, at least for the time being, T. O. was on hold. A
Roman candle of excitement had fizzled into stagnation and inertia.
To complicate matters, I had gone through a major personal change that
consequentially impacted upon my life and my work. Tim Rice, once Norrie
Paramour's assistant and apprentice, had been promoted to full fledged producer. His
first artist signing was singer Roz Hanneman, the widely popular “Evening Standard
Girl Of The Year” and celebrity panelist of a TV game show. When Roz and I met
casually in Abbey Road’s cantina during a session break, we clicked at once. A
whirlwind romance followed, and within only a couple of months, we were married. I
was no longer a single artist, able to get by on little and risk everything for my dreams
and goals, but a husband with spousal responsibilities as a provider, a role which was
further intensified by Roz’ revelation to me that she was pregnant. Finances suddenly
became a major consideration.
Unable to survive on EMI’s measly salary and primarily dependent upon my
arrangement and conducting fees as my main source of income, I was practically
forced to produce as many records and write as many arrangements as possible in order
to stay afloat. With Teenage Opera in suspension, and condemned by EMI to put any
ambitious projects aside and focus on standard, formula singles, I soon became a
veritable record factory, churning out single after single. To be sure, I gave every
project my very best, and I believe I came out with some good stuff in the process, but
my work was a far shot away from making “movies on record”.
Only twice, during the subsequent months, did I go out on a limb and produced
anything even resembling my original dream and vision - “Imagination” with Kris Ife,
and “Barefoot and Tiptoe” with “The Sweetshop”.
Meanwhile, Teenage Opera just hung there in a coma. Inevitably, sooner or
later, T. O.'s suspension had to be resolved, and the day came when I had to make a
decision - to either scrap the project altogether, or give it one more shot in the form of
a final “make-or-break” single excerpt. By nature not a quitter, I decided upon the
latter, and with EMI’s blessings proceeded to commence work on my composition
When the tracks were completed, the big question arose - which artist to feature?
There was no point in even approaching Keith West since “Weatherman” simply
[clearly] did not fit his vocal style. Besides, Keith was by now working on a selfcontained
solo artist career as an intimate singer/songwriter (after Tomorrow had never
officially broken up, but sort of evaporated. Steve Howe moved on to find his true
recognition as lead guitarist member of “Yes”, ‘Twink” joined “The Pretty Things”,
and “Junior” quietly quit the music business). For Keith to once again associate himself
with a heavily orchestrated and produced piece would have been equal to shooting
After fruitlessly auditioning a number of artist prospects, none of which could
live up to the energy of my own demo of the song, I finally threw all my neurotic
reluctance and inhibition to the wind and surrendered to performing the tune myself.
Even though “Weatherman” was released with far less hoopla or hype than its
predecessors (EMI had decided to prudently invest in only a marginal promotion effort
with an attitude of throwing the record against the wall to see if it would stick before
actually mountain a campaign), the record was received with great enthusiasm and
cheer, many even rating it as the best of the three issued excerpts. Trouble was that,
despite the loyal support of DJs Kenny Everett (who, more than calling it his favorite
of the three excerpts, distinguished it as the best pop record ever made) and Tony
Blackburn, the BBC gave it only minimal air play. The people who heard
“Weatherman” loved it and bought it. Alas, there weren’t enough of them to make it a
hit. More damagingly, with a “shit or get off the pot” attitude, there was a general
market apathy to merely yet another “excerpt” from T. O. People had grown tired of
being “teased” with just “bits” and “pieces” of the work - they wanted the whole opera.
Regardless of the public’s continued interest in T. O., in the sales figures-fixated eyes
of EMI, “Weatherman” had failed. Their resulting verdict was clear and final -
“Teenage Opera” was dead.
Only a few months later, deflated, in a rut, and once again trapped in a vicious
circle of formula productions, I asked EMI for a release from my contract. EMI agreed
on the condition that I forfeited all royalties from any recordings that I had produced
for the company during the term of my employment. Up against the wall and my
career in limbo, freedom appeared worth the price. I agreed. (In consequence, I have,
to this day, never received a single penny for any of the recordings I ever produced for
EMI. In fairness to EMI’s pragmatic but honorable ethics, I must add that, by the same
token, of all the dozens of publishing companies I have been affiliated with over the
years, EMI Publishing has been one of only two firms who, for more than 30 years,
have accounted to me honestly, regularly and efficiently.)
Keith West laments to this day that T. O. ruined his and Tomorrow’s career. As
much as I understand and empathize with Keith’s reasoning, I don’t agree. No matter
how popular and creative Tomorrow were in their heyday, the band was ultimately
bound to disintegrate. Their scope as a band was simply too narrow and limited to
ultimately hold on to the talent of Steve Howe, who sooner or later would have been
compelled to break away in order to find alternative vehicles, which better suited his
brilliance and offered him the freedom to express it. And, with all due respect to Keith
and the other two band members “Twink” and “Junior,” without Steve, there simply
was no “Tomorrow.”
In truth, what killed Keith’s career, as well as mine in the UK, was EMI’s
persistent refusal to give the timely go-ahead for the development and complete
recording of T. O. Had EMI given the ‘green light” when “Grocer Jack” first became
a hit, I would indeed have been able to put my full time and concerted effort into the
creation of the entire work as originally intended (instead of wasting time and money
on making all kinds of routine records which collectively cost a lot more and, though
enjoyable, yielded very little). Teenage Opera in its entirety would have been ready for
release by October of 1967, and instead of pushing for a crap-shoot chance of a followup
hit with the randomly recorded “Sam” release, EMI could have chosen the most
suitable follow-up single from an entire collection of tracks. Keith, in the meantime,
could have freely continued his pursuits with Tomorrow, his presence for T. O. work
only required for the relatively brief periods of time it would have taken to co-write
lyrics with me, and to record his relevant vocal passages.
Quintessentially, what killed Teenage Opera was EMI’s blind and stubborn
procrastination and political tomfoolery, which ultimately shot us all to shit.
Nevertheless, even in its incomplete form and ultimate failure, Teenage Opera
entered the history books as a bright torch and shining star, having set a precedence and
broken down barriers to pave he way for others to succeed where I had failed. Like,
the Who with “Tommy,” The Moody Blues with “Days Of Future Past,” and, above
all, Lloyd and Webber with “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Though flattered, I learned the hard way that being a pioneer carries a costly
price, a lesson which prompted me to coin the phrase, “Never be the first at anything -
someone else is bound to take it through the finishing line”.
In the event that my descriptions of EMI appear written with the ink of sour
grapes, I wish to state that nothing could be further from the truth. Regardless of all
past adversities, disappointments and quarrels, I think of EMI as home. A home in
which I was misunderstood, but which l will always love. It was at EMI where I took
my first steps into a recording studio to record my first ever record as Mark Rogers and
the Marksmen. It was here where I was given my first opportunity to arrange for and
conduct a studio orchestra. It was here, where I was first granted the freedom to realize
my musical dreams and create my first “movie on record.” It was here where I enjoyed
a schooling, which to this day remains unequaled as second to none in the world.
Ultimately, it was EMI (including later EMI-owned Capitol Records) who
invested in and released the most important works of my career. Indeed, true to the
motto “Once EMI, always EMI”, if an opportunity were to arise tomorrow to be
associated with EMI, I wouldn’t hesitate to accept it.
An equally profound sentiment applies to good old England, in which I grew up,
felt accepted and fitted in (even if the music industry ultimately forced me into exile to
the US). After decades away from it, I always have, and always will, lovingly think of
England as “back home.”
What about Teenage Opera? Was it really dead?
Thirty (!) years after its conception, it was in Santa Barbara, California, to
which I had moved after living in Los Angeles for twenty years, where I finally
exorcised the haunting which had cursed me for three decades - the loosest end of my
life - the biggest blemish of my career - my biggest unkept promise: The complete
Determined to finally vindicate myself, I came out of a fifteen year hiatus from
the music business (during which, by the way, I DID become a comedian, performing
at Hollywood’s world famous “Comedy Store”), and spent nine months of day and
night work composing and recording the complete Teenage Opera, subtitled
“TEMPO.” Modern technology had made it possible for me to do the work at home,
using everything I had ever learned. This time, however, in collaboration with
screenplay writer Susan Hart, I created a full dramatic story and script - a romantic
fantasy revolving around young, aspiring writer H. G. Well’s abduction into the future
by a villainous time master. The Opera opens with Keith West’s original Grocer Jack
recording (H. G. Well’s father was indeed a door to door grocer!), then continues with
“Jack” Wells Jr.’s depression about his father’s death and inherited responsibility of
taking over the grocery business, when villainous time master Bahb Tibicen appears
and seduces Jack into joining a group of other unwitting captives on a journey to a
future “Shangri La” which turns out to be a world of hellish nightmares. Naturally,
there is a love story in there, too.
I had barely and proudly finished the work, my best ever, when fate once again
intervened to twist Teenage Opera’s life. RPM Records, a prominent UK classics label,
who had previously re-released a number of my old recordings, called me to ask for
my permission and support in releasing a CD entitled “A Teenage Opera.” Including
the by now classic four “excerpts,” the CD was to contain a compilation of other
generically fitting recordings composed and produced by me during the general T. O.
era. I was promised that the CD would not pretend to be THE Teenage Opera, merely
a symbolic representation of it.
Hungry for the much needed exposure, I agreed. At the same time, I informed
RPM of my recently completed REAL Teenage Opera. Concerned that a release of my
newly recorded work would conflict with RPM’s hybrid version, I conceded to taking
the “Teenage Opera” related elements out of my new work to let it stand on its own,
simply retitled, “TEMPO - A Sci-Fi Poperetta,” upon RPM’s promise to eventually
release it as such.
Several months later, RPM’s “A Teenage Opera” was released at a special
promotion party held at Abbey Road’s Studio 2 to which I was invited together with
Keith West and Geoff Emerick as celebrity guests. The attendance at the party was
astonishing. Several hundred members of the industry and the media gathered to listen
to my opening speech, followed by the complete playback of the CD - poetically over
the very same Abbey Road monitors which had witnessed the original recordings.
The reaction was awesome, and for a couple of hours, it felt like the old days, as
if I had been transported back in time. For a couple of hours, Keith and Geoff and I
were once again united and celebrated as the team that made history out of a little
dream about a grocer named Jack.
The CD went on to become RPM’s best selling release of that year and has
continued to sell steadily ever since.
More recently, a brand new, black rap recording of “Grocer Jack” was completed in
Europe, for which I was engaged to record a group of four year old black kids right
here in Savannah, Georgia, for the children passages, which nobody had managed to
get right in Europe.
Amazingly, what was surely one of the “whitest” records ever made, has in its
new form metamorphosed into a record of profound social significance to the black
What happened to TEMPO - the finally completed REAL Teenage Opera?
At the time of this writing, RPM included several “Excerpts” from it (would you
believe!?) in my two volume “Mark Wirtz - The Hollywood Years” anthology CD set,
but the entire work is still waiting for a release.
Whatever the future fate of The Teenage Opera may be, one thing is certain - its
odyssey is far from over. The Fat Lady appears to have no intention of singing in it,
and so the spirit of “Grocer Jack” continues to live on...
At the time of this writing, RPM included several “Excerpts” from it (would you
believe!?) in my two volume “Mark Wirtz - The Hollywood Years” anthology CD set,
but the complete work has still not been made available to the public. Deja Vu?
Whatever the future fate of The Teenage Opera may be, one thing is certain - its
odyssey is far from over. The Fat Lady appears to have no intention of singing in it,
and so the spirit of “Grocer Jack” and “The Teenage Opera” continues to live on...
© Mark Wirtz, May 2000