I don't understand it, but it's great and we will sell it


In an industry obsessed by anniversaries the 40th anniversary of the death of Sir Edward Lewis passed unnoticed a few days ago. Some of the greatest recordings of all time were made by Decca while he was head of Decca Records. Today 'suits' is a pejorative used to describe music industry executives lacking A & R backgrounds. However Lewis was a financier by training whose intuitive leadership allowed masterpieces of recorded sound to be created, including the first-ever studio recording of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Another of Decca's many success stories was the prog-rock band The Moody Blues. Like the Ring's producer John Culshaw, the band was given the creative space by Lewis which allowed them to create a series of groundbreaking albums including In Search of the Lost Chord. This management style, which contrasts sharply with today's 'if it ain't trending, don't pitch it' culture, was adroitly summed up by Moody Blues' lead singer and guitarist Justin Hayward as follows*:
[Sir Edward Lewis] was the last man I knew in this business with the authority, and with the confidence in an artist, to be able to stand there and say, 'Boys, I don't know exactly what it is you're doing, and I don't understand it, but it's great, and you just do it the best you can. And we will sell it'.

Quote comes via Marc Cushman's encyclopedic history of the Moody Blues Long Distance Voyagers: Volume 1 (1965-1979). New Overgrown Path posts are available via RSS/email by entering your email address in the right-hand sidebar. Any copyrighted material is included for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

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