It all started rather modestly for the Virgin record label. Few, except perhaps Sir Richard Branson himself, could have foreseen just how huge the Virgin group would become. Even less would have been able to predict airlines, trains, holidays, and numerous other ventures all carrying the same name.
When Branson set up his Virgin Record shop and mail order business he set in motion a chain of events that would change many peoples lives. Tom Newman had been a member of the Ealing based R & B band The Tomcats alongside future Jade Warrior leader Jon Field. The band eventually morphed into a psychedelic outfit called July. Their self titled debut released in 1968 is a much sought after record (now available via Cherry Red).
When Tom Newman met Richard Branson it was clear that one possessed business genius and the other had the necessary musical knowledge. Newman went about setting up the Manor Studios in the picturesque village of Shipton-On-Cherwell in Oxfordshire.
By September 1972, with Tom as resident engineer and everything else in place, the newly created Virgin Record label was created. The rest is legend. Mike Oldfield brought along his instrumental concept for Tubular Bells. It became Virgin's first album release. Tom Newmen engineered it and the result was one of the best selling albums of all time. Richard Branson’s Virgin was no longer anything of the sort.
In 1975 with the studio at his disposal Tom recorded his first solo album Fine Old Tom, which featured Oldfield and Jon Field. A second quickly followed which despite its title, Live At The Argonaut, was in fact a studio recording. Unfortunately, a dispute between Branson and Newman saw the album shelved. It was destined not to see light of day for nearly thirty years.
Following the split with Virgin, Tom set up his own studio on a canal boat in North London’s Little Venice. It was known as The Barge Studio. It was here in 1977 that he began work on an ambitious solo project called Faerie Symphony. Tom drew his inspiration not only from his time with Mike Oldfield but also from Sweden’s Bo Hansson Lord Of The Rings album.