Wayne Bickerton

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Wayne Bickerton might not be the biggest musical name to come out of postwar Liverpool, but as a behind-the-scenes figure, he's had an uncommonly major role in popular music in England. He first emerged…
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Wayne Bickerton might not be the biggest musical name to come out of postwar Liverpool, but as a behind-the-scenes figure, he's had an uncommonly major role in popular music in England. He first emerged into prominence in 1963 when he and Tony Waddington were selected, as bassist and guitarist, respectively, in the Pete Best Four, this at a time when Best -- the ex-Beatles drummer -- was at the peak of his public exposure. At a time when anyone associated with the Beatles seemed to be in line for a potential career, Best's group (later reduced to a trio) was well able to earn a living, and Bickerton and Waddington ended up getting the lion's share of the musical exposure, as they handled the singing as well as what songwriting there was; indeed, they ended up writing songs as a formal team, separate from their work in the group (which recorded dozens of sides in the U.S. that trickled out throughout the '60s as the producers sought to exploit Best's name and Beatles connection).

Bickerton and Waddington left the Best trio in 1966, and Bickerton went to work for Decca Records, as a producer and later A&R chief at the company's new Deram Records imprint, devoted to progressive pop/rock acts. Among those artists that he produced -- one of the least successful at the time, and among the most frequently reissued in the decades since -- were Giles, Giles & Fripp, the forerunners of King Crimson. Making The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp work as an LP was no small achievement for Bickerton as a producer. He was also depicted, after a fashion, in the cover art for the 1969 album World of Oz, by the group of the same name. In the midst of his work for Decca/Deram, he also found time to produce Petula Clark on the side, for one album in the mid-'60s. Bickerton left Deram to assume the job of A&R chief at Polydor where he produced Mongrel, among other acts. During this period, he and Waddington co-wrote and produced a demo of a song called "Sugar Baby Love," originally intending it for the Eurovision Song Contest; instead, they offered the song to Showaddywaddy, who turned it down. Finally, Bickerton and Waddington then offered it to the musicians from the existing demo, if they wanted to become an actual group. Thus the Rubettes were spawned. They were produced by Bickerton and Waddington, and the group's success permitted the two songwriters to organize their own record label, State Records, through which they released the Rubettes' hit "I Can Do It." Bickerton and Waddington also enjoyed many years' success producing and/or writing most of the work of the Flirtations. Bickerton later moved beyond the realm of the record industry, into the upper reaches of the larger music industry as a ranking executive of the Performing Rights Society in England, and he subsequently occupied a similar position in the European equivalent organization, SESAC International (roughly the equivalent of ASCAP and BMI in America).