Telstar the single – written and produced by Joe Meek, performed by The Tornadoes – was released on 17th August 1962. Telstar was a groundbreaking song, featuring a claviolene and multitudinous electronic effects, many invented or pioneered by Meek, it was the first British single to reach number one in the US charts.
‘Do you mind telling me who you are and how you came to be here?’ I asked, politely, I thought, all things considered, surprising myself with how calm my voice sounded.
‘Who I was,’ the figure corrected. He’d put a bit of reverb on his flat, Essex voice, giving depth and resonance. Nice touch, I thought, fighting a smile at the tired old antics, surprised he hadn’t brought a few chains to rattle; what kind of amateur did he think I was?
‘I was Heathcliff Strong.’
‘Heathcliff Strong? Really?’
‘Well, it’s not my real name, obviously. I was a musician, lead guitar and vocals, and I had a band and Alan Henderson was never going to sign a record contract, so I was Heathcliff Strong.’
‘You were in a band?’ I said, realising I was attempting to make polite conversation with a dead man in a world between worlds and realising how ridiculous that was, yet somehow, unable to stop myself.
‘The Magistrates,’ he said. ‘You won’t have heard of us; band split when I died in sixty-two, just when it was all kicking off. I can’t begin to tell you how pissed off I was. We’d opened for The Dakotas, we were about to go on tour and I want my bloody life back!’
His voice strobed pleasingly around the frozen landscape, echoing through the branches with interesting harmonics; we both paused to enjoy the effect.
‘Even Joe Meek couldn’t make a sound like that,’ he said, bobbing his head in appreciation. ‘You could probably do it now, though, with computers and stuff.’
‘You know about computers?’
He shot me a glare; pale grey eyes, searching mine, as if I should know… What? I had no idea, but I could feel his irritation. There was something I ought to have known and the fact that I hadn’t, angered him.
‘Of course I know about computers,’ he said. ‘In my last life, the one I just left…’
‘Three days ago. I just got here.’
– From Entanglement, chapter two