Andy Wickham

Andrew "Andy" Wickham is a British native who became prominent in the U.S. music business as a producer, A&R director, and talent scout in the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

Professional riseEdit

Wickham had worked as a commercial artist in London, and was employed at Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records label before moving to Los Angeles to work for Lou Adler's Dunhill label. He met Warner Bros. Records executive Mo Ostin at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967, and was hired as the label's "company freak"[1] to scout new talent and forge a bond between rebellious young artists and established Warner Bros. executives.

In 1975, he was assigned to oversee the establishment of Warner's Country Music division in Nashville.[2]

Artists signedEdit

As an executive at Warner Bros./Reprise, Wickham signed Joni Mitchell,[3] Eric Andersen, Jethro Tull, Van Morrison, Gram Parsons,[4] Emmylou Harris, Buck Owens, Guy Clark, a-ha and others to recording contracts.

Production workEdit

Wickham produced recordings by The Everly Brothers, Phil Ochs, Doug Kershaw, The Mighty Sparrow,[5] Nancy Sinatra, Goldie Hawn, Van Dyke Parks, Steve Young, and many others.[6] He also wrote liner notes for many albums.

LegacyEdit

In 2020, Wickham appeared in A-ha's official anniversary documentary, "A-Ha: The Making Of Take On Me", and explained in detail how the song became a 1985 worldwide smash hit widely recognised today. He backed Norwegian trio A-ha and signed them to Warner Brothers America, after several previous attempts elsewhere and internally failed to make "Take On Me by A-Ha" a commercial success. On meeting the band for the first time, he said in the documentary: "I couldn't believe my ears when I heard Morten Harket sing. I thought, how can somebody who looks like a film star, sound like Roy Orbison?" Wickham immediately authorised considerable investment in the band: renowned producer Alan Tarney was commissioned to refine the song, which was released with a very ordinary video and again the song was not successful. Wickham then applied a lateral strategy and placed the band on high priority: Steve Barron directed a revolutionary music video, which took six months to make. The single was released in the United States a month after the music video was released and became a worldwide smash. The famed video, featuring rotoscoping animation, has now reached 1 Billion views on Youtube.

Warner Executive Stan Cornyn recalled working at the label in the late 1960s. "At one point," he said, "I was the hippest person at Warner Bros. Records. My hair was slightly longer than the others and my attitude was good. But we were all guys in suits, or even blazers up to a certain point in time. Mo Ostin knew to go after people and find people who were not proven yet — to find someone like Andy Wickham, who might come in at two in the afternoon, but who knew Joni Mitchell and that whole crowd."[7]

Journalist Barney Hoskyns, in Hotel California, his 2006 book about the late '60s–early '70s southern California music scene, described Wickham as Warner's "house hippie" who “worked Laurel Canyon’s narrow-laned hills, had long hair and did not keep office hours."[8]

Cornyn, in a Rhino Records series called Stay Tuned, said that Mo Ostin told Wickham, "'Find me promising writers, singers.' He knew the cost of artists found by Andy would be much less than hiring those Sinatra veteran singers down in Palm Springs had been. Wickham became a discrete employee for Reprise. He specialized in Laurel Canyon and neighboring fields of music. Artists he brought to Mo proved to be bargains, and the list went on for some years: Joni Mitchell, Eric Andersen, Jethro Tull, Van Morrison... Andy brought to Reprise the hippest of times."[9]


ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hopkins, Jerry, "Inside the Los Angeles Scene," Rolling Stone, June 22, 1968
  2. ^ The Encyclopedia of Country Music, Oxford University Press, 2012
  3. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben, Rolling Stone interview with Joni Mitchell, May 17, 1969 "[I]n the fall of 1967, she met ... Andy Wickham. He signed her to Reprise."
  4. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben, Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Gram Parsons (Macmillan, 1998), p. 168
  5. ^ Sullivan, Denise, "Van Dyke Parks on Mighty Sparrow and The Esso Trinidad Steel Band", Pan on the Net, 2011
  6. ^ Andy Wickham production credits at Discogs
  7. ^ Everett, Todd, "It's a Warner-Ful Life,", Hits Daily Double, April 10, 2002
  8. ^ Witthaus, Michael, "Checking Out Hoskyns’ Hotel California," book review, Local Rhythms, June 21, 2006
  9. ^ Cornyn, Stan, "Stay Tuned By Stan Cornyn: Laurel Canyon, Starring…", Rhino.com, April 9, 2013