1. Mark P. Wirtz is an Alsatian pop music record producer, composer, singer, musician, author, and comedian.
2. Wirtz is chiefly known for the never-completed A Teenage Opera concept album.
3. Another track by Wirtz, the 1966 “A Touch of Velvet, A Sting of Brass” under the name Mood Mosaic, with The Ladybirds as backing singers, became well known in Germany as the theme tune for the Radio Bremen show Musikladen and was used by some radio stations and DJs in the United Kingdom as ident, notably Dave Lee Travis on Radio Caroline.
4. This 1967 hit single is a densely orchestrated psychedelic marvel, which tells the whimsical and sad tale of an old man , who dies unappreciated, except by the children who loved him and miss him.
5. A friend, with whom he was sharing a flat in neighbouring Wallington, recalls those days: “Three things already stood out in him at the age of seventeen: his prodigious talent as an artist – he could paint original work in the style of any of the grand masters; his natural ability as a musician – he could pick out any tune on the piano by ear; and his zany sense of humour – he idolized the comedian Jerry Lewis.”
6. He studied drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, when his college rock band, The Beatcrackers, were signed to a recording contract in 1963 as Mark Rogers and the Marksmen by EMI producer Norman Newell.
7. By 1965 Wirtz had started his first independent production company, releasing records that have since become enduring classics.
8. Working at Abbey Road Studios alongside the Beatles and Pink Floyd , Wirtz wrote and produced landmark recordings by artists such as Keith West, Tomorrow, and Kippington Lodge.
9. Most notably, he reached global success with his production of excerpts from the first rock opera, A Teenage Opera.
10. Wirtz was married to singer Ross Hannaman for a period of time.
11. Together, they wrote and recorded the song “Barefoot and Tiptoe” under the name The Sweetshop, erroneously believed to have been from A Teenage Opera.
12. In 1969, his creative freedom restricted by drastic changes in A&R policy, Wirtz resigned his post at EMI Records to return to independent production.
13. In 1973, Wirtz signed a writer/artist/producer contract with Capitol Records for whom he recorded two acclaimed albums, Balloon and Hothouse Smiles .