Mark Wirtz's Biography
Mark Wirtz is an Alsatian born producer of pop records. His most famous output being from the mid to late 1960s, when he worked at Abbey Road Studios alongside Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, under contract to EMI. Wirtz is chiefly known for the never-completed "A Teenage Opera" concept album, from which only four songs were ever finished before a concerned EMI pulled the plug on the project. His signature style has been described by Mojo magazine as "Phil Spector scoring Camberwick Green", a sound most perfectly encapsulated on Wirtz's masterpiece, "Excerpt From A Teenage Opera". 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. The completed Teenage Opera songs all feature similar themes, usually based around elderly craftsmen carrying on with their outdated traditions (a weatherman, a steam train driver) to the ambivalence - and sometimes ridicule - of the community. The project has been likened to a British Smile, due largely to its near mythical status as a "lost" masterwork, 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. The two wrote songs together as "Philwit and Bigsby" and they recorded the song "Barefoot and Tiptoe" for "A Teenage Opera" under the name "The Sweetshop." Wirtz divorced Ross Hannaman and left London in the early 1970s after completing only one full album, Philwit and Pegasus. He lived and worked in Los Angeles until retiring from music in 1983. Disillusioned and bereft of inspiration, he subsequently flitted from one career to the next, taking in stints as a wine seller, a stand up comic, an author and restaurant critic amongst other professions. Mark Wirtz now lives in Georgia in the United States, and has recently been rumoured to be making a tentative return to music production.