Keith adds a star touch to concert

HE has worked with the very best of British musicians, from The Move to The Kinks, The Hollies, The Yardbirds and even The Beatles — but today he will be part of a charity concert in Bolton.

It was said that Brian Epstein would not let the fab four record at the BBC unless Keith Bateson was in charge of the sessions.

Mr Bateson is now the musical director of the Bank Street Chapel and both he and his son teach at the Bank Street Chapel School of music .

Born in 1940, Mr Bateson was educated at Bolton School and counted Sir Ian McKellan among his schoolmates.

From school he joined the BBC in Manchester as a control room engineer and applied for the post of studio manager in London, in 1960.

Three years later he made a decision that would change his life.

“Us sound men had to make a choice as to what path we wanted to follow — either variety or pop.

“I was working on the Spike Milligan shows and music programmes like Pop Goes The Beatles.

“It became quite difficult to schedule both and there were times when I couldn’t do a Beatles session as I was working on Spike’s shows.

“Brian Epstein didn’t like that at all as he always wanted me for whenever The Beatles were recording for the Beeb.

“So I chose music and did shows like the Pop Goes series and the Bank Holiday Specials.” His work involved many of the biggest names of the ‘60s and Mr Bateson remembers it well.

“Working with The Beatles was always fun. John Lennon used to call me the translator because being from the north, I could translate what the boys were saying for the benefit of the southerners.”

While working with The Yardbirds, he came into contact with two of Britain’s greatest guitarists in Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.

But Mr Bateson is in no doubt as to which band is the best he’s ever worked with.

“The Hollies,” he says. “They were so professional and excellent musicians. We all became good friends and singer Allan Clarke is godfather to my eldest son.”

In fact, only recently EMI released a CD of BBC recordings by The Hollies, many of which were engineered and produced by Mr Bateson.

“Many’s the time me and Bobby Elliott (The Hollies’ drummer) have been found in London’s pubs and clubs having a few drinks.”

Mr Bateson parted company with the BBC in about 1970.

“They sacked me,” he states simply.

“I was good at my job and wanted to do it my way, but the management didn’t like that so I said ‘you’d best sack me’. And they did.”

From there, Mr Bateson became a freelance producer and worked with the likes of Dave Berry and Wayne Fontana.

After a stint at Roneo Vickers in Leicester he returned to his roots.

“In about 1974 I came home to mum, met my second wife and settled back in Bolton.

“I always wanted to teach, so that’s what I did — and still do.”

“I taught for a while at Blackburn College and now I teach at the Bank Street Chapel School of Music.”

“It’s very enjoyable and I teach piano, organ, elocution and singing, and about 15 years ago I became the director of music at Bank Street Chapel.

“My son, Michael, who was a chorister at Manchester Cathedral and went to Chetham’s School of Music, also teaches there.”

Part of Bank Street Chapel’s diary is the charity concert and it support three charities: Smile Train, which helps children with distorted features, Bolton Hospice and Send a Child to Hucklow, which sends sick children on holidays.

Mr Bateson said: “The show consists mainly of my students and features mostly current pop-type music like Adele.

“We’re also doing a tribute to The Beatles and The Hollies and I’m hoping one of my organ students will play some Bach.

“Who knows, I might get up and play something myself.”

Tickets for the show are £5 on the night and the show starts at 7.45pm.

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