Judy Cannon, Meek, Murder and Mayhem.
Q: – Singer and sometime Play School cast member Judy Cannon tried her luck in the UK in the early 1960’s and I think she recorded with the legendary Joe Meek while she was there, what happened to Judy?
Hello Heartache (B Ruskin) – Judy Cannon 1962
A: Melbourne singer Judy Cannon was one of Australia’s best female rock and rollers whose musical inspirations included Elvis Presley, Johnny Ray and LaVern Baker, she was only matched by such local contemporaries as Betty McQuade, Del Juliana, and Laurel Lee. Her early appearances at Coburg Town Hall and Preston Town Hall dances and Earl’s Court. St. Kilda, in Melbourne in the late 1950’s and 60’s with the Thunderbirds kickstarted her career and thereafter she regularly featured on such TV shows as Stairway to the Stars, Teenage Mailbag, Bandstand, and Six O’Clock Rock.
She supported Cliff Richard and the Shadows on their tour here in 1961 and was encouraged to try her luck in the UK by Coral O’Neill, whose father Terry O’Neill compered a variety show on British television, Judy relocated to London in 1963 and landed a regular spot on Terry O’Neill’s One O’Clock Show. Judy also did session work with the mercurial and mysterious Joe Meek (real name Robert George Meek), legendary producer of classic British rock and pop in the late 1950’s- mid 60’s, his records included Telstar (Tornados), Just Like Eddie (Heinz), Johnny Remember Me (John Leyton), What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For (Emile Ford) and Have I The Right (The Honeycombs).
Meek was a trailblazer in a period when recording technology was in its infancy, he was the first to use the clavioline, a keyboard instrument which imparted a unique sound to the instrumental hit Telstar, which sold 5 million copies globally in 1962; and became the first UK record to top the US charts, subsequently described as “Percy Faith on acid”.
He was the Phil Spector of the London scene, the first of the freelance producers and a pioneer in exploring compression sound techniques and layering, Hello Heartache was recorded at 304 Holloway Rd, London, Meeksville Sound Ltd. with Joe Meek at the production console, and a young pre-Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page on guitar. It was a classy production with the full orchestral backing of the Ivor Raymonde Orchestra including, strings, brass, percussion and ringing guitar riffs, Judy is in fine voice and although the song fairly bounces along, the lyrics are about lost love and regret at ending a relationship.
Judy became a successful performer on the West End in London starring in the production of Gypsy, Oh What a Lovely War, and many other shows, in a thirteen- year career there. She returned to Australia in the early 1980’s, was a member of the Play School cast for some time and performed on the R&R heritage circuit before pursuing a career outside the entertainment industry. Hello Heartache, appears on several Joe Meek compilation albums issued under the Pye label, including The Joe Meek Story: The Pye Years.
Joe Meek was a troubled gay man at a time when homosexuality was illegal in the UK, he was also a recreational drug user and obsessed with fears that the Kray twins, London’s notorious gangster brothers, wanted to take over his business. On February 3rd. 1967 Joe Meek surrendered to his demons when he murdered his landlady and then turned the shotgun on himself, he was only 37 years old when he died.