This 1967 hit single is a densely orchestrated psychedelic marvel, which tells the whimsical and sad tale of an old man ("Grocer Jack"), who dies unappreciated, except by the children who loved him and miss him. Alsatian-Born Mark Wirtz began his music career while studying art at London's Fairfield College of Arts and Sciences, and drama at the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts, when his college Rock-band, 'The Beatcrackers,' were signed to a recording contract in 1963 as 'Mark Rogers and the Marksmen' by EMI producer Norman Newell. By 1965 Mark had started his first independent production company, releasing records that have since become enduring classics, including Mood Mosaic's, "A Touch Of Velvet, A Sting Of Brass," for EMI's Parlophone Records, and his own Mark Wirtz Orchestra album, "Latin A Go-Go," for Ember Records. In 1967, Mark accepted EMI veteran producer/A&R chief Norrie Paramor's offer to join EMI Records as in-house producer. Working at Abbey Road Studios alongside the Beatles and Pink Floyd (the latter whom he was instrumental in signing to the company), Mark wrote and produced landmark recordings by artists such as Keith West, Tomorrow, and Kippington Lodge. Most notably, he reached global success with his production of excerpts from the first ever Rock Opera, "A Teenage Opera." Though never allowed to be completed or released as an entire work, the opera's excerpts "Grocer Jack," "Sam" "Weatherman" and "Theme" became legendary trail-blazers, which have not only captivated several generations of music fans, but influenced and inspired artists and musicians world-wide. The project has been likened to a British Smile, due largely to its near mythical status as a "lost" master work, but also because of the singularity of its creator's strange and magical vision. Wirtz was married to singer Ross Hannaman for a period of time.
Together, they wrote and recorded the song "Barefoot and Tiptoe" under the name The Sweetshop, erroneously believed to have been from A Teenage Opera. Wirtz and Hannaman divorced in 1969, at which time Wirtz teamed up with poetry writer Maria Feltham to record Wirtz's concept album, Philwit and Pegasus, for composer Les Reed's Chapter One label. In 1969, his creative freedom restricted by drastic changes in A&R policy, Wirtz resigned his post at EMI Records to return to independent production. Associations with Larry Page's Penny Farthing label (Samantha Jones, Kris Ife and Les Reed's Chapter One label (Philwit & Pegasus, Roger James) followed, during which Wirtz formed a co-writing partnership with Ife with collaborations ("Learning 2 Live With Love," MWET/Spyderbaby (2005); "One Night Stand" MWET/Anthony Rivers" (2005), and the Cooking For Cannibals soundtrack album (2007). In 1970, Wirtz left the shores of Britain for Los Angeles, California to accept an invitation by his fellow expatriate producer and friend Denny Cordell to work with him at Hollywood's Shelter Records.
In 1973, Wirtz signed a writer/artist/producer contract with Capitol Records for whom he recorded two acclaimed albums, Balloon and Hothouse Smiles (both released under the name "Marc Wirtz"). In 1975, dropped by Capitol for his refusal to tour or perform publicly, Mark signed with ace producer Tom Catalano and veteran publisher Dan Crewe's RCA-distributed TomCat label, an association that was doomed to be a short-lived when the label folded only week's after Mark's first single release, "We Could Have laughed Forever,". Having become a parent in the same year, hence home-responsibility-bound, Mark dropped his "loose cannon" career pursuits and, under the name of Marc Peters, submerged into the role of "hired gun" session arranger/conductor in partnership with producers including Kim Fowley and Jimmy Bowen. Numerous Pop/R&B and Country hit records followed, featuring an array of artists as diverse as Helen Reddy, Leon Russell, Vicky Leandros, Kim Carnes, Dean Martin and Anthony Newly. In 1979, signed by Russ Regan to Interworld Music/CBS Records as writer and producer, Mark returned to the studio to produce his third solo album, "Lost Pets," sequentially joined by ace guitarists Richard Bennett and John Beland, keyboard players Alan Lindgren and Tom Hensley, drummers Billy Thomas and Denny Seiwell, bassists David Hungate and Les Hurdle.
In the midst of a session for the only half-finished production, a medical emergency call from his daughter's Kindergarten principal prompted Mark to close the piano lid, abort the project and leave the studio. Priority committed to hands-on single parenting of his daughter Nicole, Mark vanished into obscurity and a hiatus from the music business that would last for more than twenty years... During those years, after savings had run out and royalties had dwindled, Mark took on a gamut of art-alien jobs, including tele-marketer, waiter, maître 'd, blood-stock agent, interpreter, voice-over artist, undercover agent, seminar leader and eventually sales manager for the prestigious 'Geneva' merger & acquisition firm. While taking acting classes during off-times and burning the midnight oil in the pursuit of a new career as a novelist, Mark also realized a life-long ambition to be a comedian by studying and performing at Hollywood's 'Groundlings' Improv Theater, to eventually take his first steps onto the stages of Hollywood's comedy clubs, including the Comedy Store and the Improv.
In 1996, his daughter grown up and in college, Mark moved to Savannah, GA, where he kept busy as an award-winning freelance magazine columnist/food- and drama critic, while publishing his first novels, "Sisyphus Rocks" and "Love Is Eggshaped," as well as selling his paintings in a Savannah gallery. In 2004, giving in to the plea from his by now in Spain residing daughter Nicole to produce her Rock-band leader boyfriend's debut album, Mark flew to Barcelona and returned to the studio for the first time in many years to produce Les Philippes' "Philharmonic Philanthropy." Before year's end, the band's album was #1 in the Independent label charts and has since become a 'neo-psych Rock' cult classic. His music appetite re-awakened, Mark continued his rebounded studio activities by subsequently producing his own 'Mark Wirtz Eartheatre' solo album "Love Is Eggshaped," Spyderbaby UK's "Glassblower" CD, and Anthony River's yet unreleased "Marked Confidential." In 2006, Mark rekindled his passion for comedy by performing regularly in Florida and Georgia comedy clubs, while working on his new, monologue/music CD/book project currently in-progress, "Cooking For Cannibals." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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