Denis Preston

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Denis Preston
Birth name Sydney Denis Preston
Born 1916
Origin London, England
Died 1979 (aged 62–63)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Record producer, critic
Instruments Recording studio
Labels Lansdowne Records

Sydney Denis Preston[1] (16 November 1916 – 1979) was a British record producer and music critic.[1] Preston worked independently;[2] he was not contracted to a particular record label and would often risk cutting a record before pitching for a deal.[3] He has been described as "Europe's first independent record producer".[2]


He was born Sidney Denis Prechner on 16 November 1916 in Stoke Newington, London.[1]

In the early 1950s, Preston founded Record Supervision Ltd, a production company which licensed recordings to major labels.[4] In 1955, he accepted a licensing deal with Pye Records and produced records for Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, Alex Welsh, Frank Holder, Sandy Brown and Al Fairweather, Terry Lightfoot, and Kenny Baker.[4][5] He also produced some of Lonnie Donegan's early skiffle recordings.[4]

In 1956, he established Lansdowne Studios (and associated label Lansdowne Records) in west London.[6][7] The same year he produced Humphrey Lyttelton's 1956 record "Bad Penny Blues" with the recording engineer Joe Meek.[4] When Meek left Lansdowne in 1960, he took inspiration from Preston's independent approach and expanded on this by also producing in his own recording studio.[8]

During the early 1960s, Preston worked with EMI on their Columbia label. Preston's production branched out from traditional jazz into folk, modern jazz and guitar-based genres (working with artists such as Jack Elliot, Roger Whittaker, Juniper Green, Joe Harriott and Stan Tracey) as well as African and Indian-inspired artists (Amancio D'Silva and Kofi Ghanaba).[4][9]

Preston died in 1979. His Sunday Times obituary described him as "probably the most important figure to emerge from the British jazz business".[4] He was the cousin of the historian (and jazz critic) Eric Hobsbawm.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Wilmer, Val. "Preston, (Sydney) Denis". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/75566. |access-date= requires |url= (help) (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b Reetze, Jan. "RGM Sound Ltd". Joe Meek - A Portrait. The Joe Meek Page. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  3. ^ "BIOGRAPHY - Later recording". Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Adams, Paul. "Denis Preston and the Record Supervision story". SINGSONGPR NEWS. Sing Song Entertainment Publicity. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Production Discography". Denis Preston. Discogs. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  6. ^ "Pye Launches Spoken Albums". Billboard Magazine. 1 May 1961. p. 3. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  7. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  8. ^ Leigh, Spencer Leigh (2 June 2005). "Preview: Telstar - The Joe Meek Story, New Ambassadors Theatre, London". The Independent. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Kofi Ghanaba: Ghanaian drummer and bandleader". The Times. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  10. ^ Eric Hobsbawm "Diary", London Review of Books, 32:10, 27 May 2010, p.41