Mark Wirtz
Mark P. Wirtz is an Alsatian born (3 September 1943 in Strasbourg)
pop music record producer, composer, singer, musician, author, and
stand-up comedian.

As a producer, Wirtz's most famous output is from the mid to late
1960s, when he worked at Abbey Road Studios with 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. (RPM, with Wirtz's direct
involvement, pieced together all surviving songs from the unfinished
project and issued it on CD.)

His signature style has been described by Mojo magazine as "Phil
Spector scoring Camberwick Green", a sound most perfectly
encapsulated on Wirtz's masterpiece, "Grocer Jack (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outdated traditions (a weatherman, a steam train driver) to the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.
Together, they wrote and recorded the song "Barefoot and Tiptoe"
under the name The Sweetshop, erroneously believed to have been
from A Teenage Opera. Wirtz and Hannaman divorced in 1969, at
which time Wirtz teamed up with poetry writer Maria Feltham to
record Wirtz's concept album, Philwit and Pegasus, for composer
Les Reed's Chapter One label. In 1970, Wirtz left London for the
United States where, based in Hollywood, he joined fellow UK
expatriate producer Denny Cordell at his Shelter Records company
as associate producer and engineer.

Mark Wirtz began his music career while studying art at London's
Fairfield College of Arts and Sciences. 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."

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. By 1965 Wirtz had started his first
independent production company, releasing records that have since
become enduring classics.

In 1967, Wirtz accepted EMI veteran producer/A&R chief Norrie
Paramor's offer to join EMI Records as in-house producer. Working
at Abbey Road Studios alongside the Beatles and Pink Floyd (the
latter whom he was instrumental in signing to the company), Wirtz
wrote and produced landmark recordings by artists such as Keith
West, Tomorrow,[1] and Kippington Lodge. Most notably, he
reached global success with his production of excerpts from the first
ever Rock Opera, A Teenage Opera. Though never allowed to be
completed or released as an entire work, the opera's excerpts
"Grocer Jack," "Sam," "Weatherman," and "Theme" became
legendary trail-blazers, which have not only captivated several
generations of music fans, but influenced and inspired artists and
musicians worldwide.