RIFF 2014: A Life in the Death of Joe Meek

A Life in the Death of Joe Meek

Highly influential in the UK rock and roll scene, controversial figurehead and record producer and brilliant sound engineer Joe Meek broke away from the pack in the late 50s and early 60s by becoming one of the first big name independent record producers in the world. The man who somewhat quietly paved the way for looping, boundary pushing stereo recordings, and possibly the invention of the concept album, Meek was merely remarked upon in his time until his death as part of an alleged murder-suicide inside his studio. Today, he’s worshiped by many as a trailblazer in spite of his numerous personal demons.

Howard Berger and Susan Stahman have crafted a meticulously researched look at Meek’s business practice, musical acumen, and personal life told through those who worked directly with him, were brought into his orbit briefly, and those who tirelessly champion his work today. There’s a lot of ground to cover with Meek, and Life in the Death feels comprehensive without being exhaustive.

Life in the Death of Joe Meek

But what’s most curious about the film – particularly when it comes to Meek’s transgressions, which uncomfortably, but perhaps necessarily includes molestation charges that may or may not be tied to his life as an outward homosexual and sex addict – is the film’s stringent adherence to never saying if Meek was a good person or not. Every point of view on display from people who loved and hated Joe gets left in as is, no matter how contradictory the stories seem when put in relief of each other.


The filmmaking is pretty low-fi and tossed off, but the content here is what counts. (Andrew Parker)


Wednesday, October 15th, 7:00pm, The Royal

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