Norman Sheffield (25 September 1939 - 20 June 2014) was a music and advertising industry figure, most noted for his music industry recording and management roles, ownership of the former Trident Studios, and being the first manager of the rock band Queen.
Formerly a drummer in The Hunters, he enjoyed moderate chart success as well as starring as the drummer with Cliff Richard in a television performance at the London Palladium in 1958. More recently, one of the Hunters biggest hits, "Teen Scene", featured on the soundtrack to the 2009 movie An Education.
He later started a record shop in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, with his wife and later converted the upstairs into a recording studio proving popular with local musicians wishing to record their own music. When the shop was later sold as he searched for larger premises in London, much of the original equipment was sold to the future founder of Island Records.
Sheffield went on to launch Trident Studios in 1968 with his brother Barry, turning a disused engraving works in St Anne's Court in the Soho area of London into one of the leading recording studios of the world. The studio recorded many of the world's most famous artists and recordings of the era including the Beatles' "Hey Jude", David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and Elton John's "Candle in the Wind".
Between 1972 and 1975, Sheffield, under one of his companies within the Trident Group, was the manager of British rock group Queen as well as other acts at the time.
Trident invested heavily in the band formerly known simply as Smile when the members were still students and actively assisted in breaking them into the mainstream eventually finding them a recording contract with EMI. Much has been written and televised that Sheffield and his management treated the band unfairly, which Sheffield fiercely denied in interviews and later in his memoirs. "Death on Two Legs" was a song later written by Freddie Mercury about the band's fall out with Sheffield and although this was never officially stated, a financial settlement was made out of court with him.
Shortly after his death in June 2014, Brian May posted a tribute to Norman on his personal blog.
Even after the split with Queen, one of Sheffield's other companies within the group, Trilion Video, was contracted by Queen to produce the music video for Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 1975. This video is often regarded as the first modern music video.
Life on Two Legs
In 2013, Sheffield released his personal memoirs titled Life on Two Legs: Set The Record Straight apparently lifting the lid on the inside story of Trident Studios, how it began and grew to record the music that made it famous as a studio worldwide. It also details how Queen were "discovered" and managed by Trident, ultimately leading to Freddie Mercury writing the song "Death on Two Legs" about the acrimonious split with Sheffield and Trident.
The press release and website promises exclusive photos, untold stories about the artists that recorded at Trident during the era as well as copies of the original Queen management contracts from 1974. The book has a foreword by Sir Paul McCartney.
With the growth of electronic music and home studios in the 1980s, the music industry began to change shape and Sheffield sold the studio and founded one of the first Apple Computer dealerships in the UK, importing early Apple computers from the USA in 1986 complete with power converters to allow the computers to operate on UK voltage. The same company also opened a facility to allow Apple and PC computer users to scan, print and use the Apple computers on a per-hour basis within specially designed offices known as a bureau.
Later, together with his sons he founded Tableau, an advertising agency using his previous knowledge of the entertainment industry and experience from early desktop publishing. The agency was responsible for the early EasyJet airline advertising campaigns and EasyJet's first online booking system along with other notable advertising accounts and went on to gain awards within the industry for its work.
Sheffield died peacefully in Cornwall, UK on June 2014 aged 75. He had suffered from throat cancer.
- "Drummer and former Queen manager, Waltham Cross-born Norman Sheffield, dies : Cheshunt & Waltham News". Hertfordshiremercury.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-07-03.
- "Trident Studios". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-07-03.
- "BBC's Freddie's Millions". BBC. Retrieved 2010.
- "Brian May's SoapBox Tribute". Retrieved 2014-09-12.
- Medium cool: music videos from soundies to cellphones p.157. Duke University Press, 2007. Retrieved 23 January 2011
- "Queen Band History". Queen Online. Archived from the original on 27 June 2009.
The video, directed by Bruce Gowers, is credited with being the first genuine promotional video.
- "Life on Two Legs: Amazon.co.uk: Norman Sheffield, Paul McCartney: Books". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-07-03.
- "Life on Two Legs - Norman Sheffield". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-07-03.
- "Trident Studios Founder Norman Sheffield Dies". PSNEurope. Retrieved 2014.