Legendary ‘Quo’ Producer Credits Pet Cat For Chart Toppers
A chart-topping record producer behind some of the UK’s biggest hits has finally revealed the secret of his success — a CAT.
John Schroeder, who has produced songs for a host of iconic acts including Status Quo, Cliff Richard and Helen Shapiro — says that back in the Sixties he always made sure to consult his pet cat, Treasure, to see which tracks were destined for greatness.
The musical moggy would meow loudly when it heard a sure-fire hit, according to Schroeder.
He played tracks already scheduled for release to Treasure the cat on his record player to get an indication of whether or not that they would fare well.
Chart-toppers that have received the ‘purr of approval’ include Shapiro’s ‘Walkin’ Back to Happiness’, which Schroeder co-wrote with fellow songsmith Mike Hawker and which topped the charts for three weeks back in 1961 — scooping the writers a coveted Ivor Novello Award.
Another smash hit to get the paws up was psychedelic single ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’, which reached number seven back in 1968 and launched the career of Status Quo.
Remarkably, the tracks that Treasure didn’t respond to enthusiastically tended not to do well upon release.
Schroeder accepts that the pop picks of Treasure, who died in 1973, were a coincidence, but says he is “still struck by how uncanny his predictions were”.
At 81, Schroeder is still in demand as a producer after a celebrated 50-year career and has revealed that he’s not the only one in the music industry to seek the advice of furry friends.
Speaking from his home in Surrey, he said: “Cats have been a big part of my life over the years and one of the reasons is because they are so intelligent and attuned to their owner.
“That’s certainly been the case in my music career, where I came to value the opinion of my pet in helping me pick out those songs that were likely to prove popular.
“Treasure was the George Martin of the feline world. He quickly developed an ear for hits and had an uncanny gift for identifying chart-toppers with a well-placed meow.”
John added: “It might sound strange but I’m definitely not alone. There was a well-known session drummer I often worked with back in the sixties who always insisted on taking his dog into the studio. Uncannily, When the dog barked, we all knew we’d got the perfect take.”
Schroeder started his career at Columbia Records at the start of the sixties, quickly scoring a number of hits for singer Helen Shapiro including ‘Don’t Treat Me Like a Child’, ‘You Don’t Know’ and ‘Walkin’ Back to Happiness’, which sold over one million copies and also reached number one in Ireland, New Zealand, Israel and South Africa.
He later moved to Pye, where he worked with Status Quo on their first album, ‘Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo’.
Schroeder is also credited with introducing the acclaimed US label Motown to the UK, which fostered the talents of such musical greats as Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.
His life-long love of cats has prompted the hit-maker to pen a novel celebrating the popular pet and the “therapeutic value” they have for their owners.
Buckingham, which has just hit the shelves, is described as a lighthearted tale about a charismatic ‘therapy cat’ that inspires his owner to set up a business to comfort the sick and elderly.
Schroeder added: “Over the years I have witnessed the therapeutic powers of cats first-hand, especially in relation to my late father who, though blind, deaf and wheelchair-bound in his last years, found great comfort and solace through his pet cat.
“That incredible bond has always stayed in my mind and writing Buckingham has been a true labour of love. I see it as a celebration of cats and the incredible positive effect they have on our lives.”