Hollick & Taylor Recording Co. Ltd. was another recording studio used by many of the local groups, situated in Grosvenor Studios, Perry Bar, Birmingham.
Making music since the Fifties, the internationally renowned studios were Birmingham’s best keep secret for over sixty years. During that period, many firsts were recorded there including the original sound effects for Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds, the brass band rendition of Brighouse and Ratrick’s Floral Dance, the first Brum Beat album and even Jasper Carrott’s 'Funky Moped'.
The beautiful Victorian property housing the studio was built around 1872. Situated in Handsworth, this was once a part of Staffordshire, but in 1911, with a population of 70,000, Handsworth became a major suburb of Birmingham.
No.16 Grosvenor Road was originally the family home of the Taylor's who bought it in 1945 and converted part of the house into a recording studio soon afterwards. It became known as Hollick & Taylor studios when John Taylor teamed up with Charles Hollick, a technical engineer with whom he had previously worked.
Many famous artistes and companies have used the studio over the years and, the first ‘Brum Beat’ album was recorded at the Hollick & Taylor studios "which was the best recording studio in Birmingham".
"The Hollick & Taylor studio was booked for Monday 30th December 1963, to record the fourteen bands in one session! First on the studio floor, at 8:30am that morning, were the Cimarrons who were showcasing their new drummer Roger Pearson, a new face to replace Lee Zenith".
Throughout its history, the studio has attracted very diverse musicians and recorded & released top quality products for radio, television and film. Pop stars, classical musicians and brass bands have recorded here.
Producer and recording engineer, John R. Taylor, recalls the hectic days of the mid-60s:
"Throughout the years from 1963 to 1966 we had literally hundreds of groups through our doors. They would either have a pressing or a demo done. The difference between a demo and a pressing is that a demo involves a single recording while a pressing involves a number of records. A pressing is a vinyl while a one-off used to be called an acetate. If you are going to make a pressing you make an acetate as a master which goes away to be plated. They make two masters and press them. The least number we would press would be twenty."
"One artist from Wolverhampton who did quite a bit of work here was Steve Brett. I think he made the initial contact, asking for a demo to be made for promotional purposes. I remember thinking that the demo was good enough to take to a recording company. It was EMI I believe. They wanted some recordings doing and they agreed to lease them from us. In that way, once the record was released we would receive royalties, as would Steve. One record he definitely cut here was Sugar Shack."
"Steve was one of the few with genuine potential and therefore you wanted to market him and push him with the record companies. So many of the other artists lacked that professionalism. The Mavericks also had real ability."
"A recording session in those days would probably take about eight hours for four numbers. Nothing like the days or weeks on end that groups use nowadays. Steve’s session probably lasted something like that. The group did not hang about and Steve organised them very well. It was very much a lead singer and a backing group, or that’s the impression I had of Steve Brett and the Mavericks. Noddy Holder was in the group who recorded here."
"There were others who came through the studio who you felt had talent and so it proved. Good examples are the Move, the Fortunes, the Rockin' Berries and the Applejacks. One of my personal favourites was Mike Sheridan and the Cheetahs who recorded Mecca here."
"We did the recording of the first Brum Beat album on Dial at this studio but while the tape was excellent, the pressing was not so good. That album did us some harm in fact."
The Mavericks at Hollick & Taylor September 14th 1965.
Pete Bickley was a member of The Mavericks when Steve Brett recorded at Grosvenor Studios. The making of a record was a very important event to Pete:
"Steve Brett already had a recording contract when the Memphis Cut-Outs became The Mavericks, so we were well chuffed to be teaming up with someone who was making records. It meant we would get on to the record as well."
"I loved those sessions at Hollick & Taylor. It was everything I had dreamed about when I first started playing with the Phantoms and the Cut-Outs. None of the other fellers were recording so it was very special."
"This was at the time when groups like the Montanas and the Californians were not recording. They had not got contracts but we had. It made you feel really special, especially as we played on those records, not session men."Jake Elcock describes his first experience of recording as a member of the Strangers:
"The first time I was actually involved in a recording session was with the Strangers when we played on a Brum Beat LP. There had been an earlier LP with virtually the same name. The intention was to produce a sound which was 'distinctively Birmingham' but all we managed to do was to show how we were merely copying the Mersey sound. Brum Beat as such never really existed"
"On that album we played about three numbers including It’s Not Too Late. The other groups on the record included the Mountain Kings with Terry Rowley and Dave Lacey and the Corvettes. It was released by Decca."
Over the years many other artistes recorded at 'No.16', including:
- Steve Brett & The Mavericks
- Mike Sheridan and The Cheetahs
- The Move
- The Fortunes
- Rocking Berries and The Apple Jacks
- Carl Wayne and the Vikings
- Pat Wayne and the Beachcombers
- Spencer Davis
- Steve Brett and The Mavericks
- Moody Blues
In the more recent past, several of the UK’s popular recording stars have also used the facilities, hosting launches at the best studios in Birmingham or recording. Sir Ken Dodd, Des O’Connor, Sir Cliff Richard, Jimmy Cliff, Roy Wood and Raymond Froggatt, to name a few.
The studio has been changed and refurbished several times over the past sixty years, adapting to suit the demands of the music industry and accommodating new changes in technology. Following the death of Charles Hollick, the studio changed its name to Grosvenor Recording Studio Complex and continued producing high quality recordings until the beginning of the 21st Century. It is now known as CMAT Studios.