Alan A. Freeman

Alan A. Freeman (27 September 1920 – 15 March 1985) was an English record producer, remembered for being Petula Clark's producer from 1949 until 1963, when his role was taken over by Tony Hatch. It may have been Hatch who made Petula an international recording star, but Freeman had nurtured her musically since she was 17.

Freeman's dream had always been to have a record label and make his own records with it. In 1949 he was working for the Ed Kassner music publishing company as a song plugger, when he inherited some money, and began to go ahead with his project. His friend, Joe "Mr Piano" Henderson knew the young Clark whose father Leslie was keen to launch her as a recording artist. Joe introduced Alan to Leslie, who invested some money of his own (or Petula's) in the new label.

The label, Polygon Records, was a brave attempt of Alan's to gain a footing in the British record market, at a time when it was dominated by Decca and HMV (EMI). The earliest recordings were actually made for the Australian market as Alan had a contact there, and he wanted to test the water. By 1950, Polygon was up and running and during its lifetime over 180 records were made over five years, all of them produced by Alan, including over 50 titles by Petula.

By 1955, the label had been a small success, gathering a few chart hits (the biggest of which was "The Little Shoemaker" by Clark, reaching #7), but no runaway success. Alan was approached by New Zealand businessman Hilton Nixon who had a similar dream to Alan's. Hilton wanted to establish Nixa Records but had run into problems with distribution. And so it was that Polygon was swallowed up by Nixa and became Pye Nixa Records. Freeman continued to produce records, but shared responsibilities with several others. In 1959 the company had dropped the 'Nixa' part and evolved into simply Pye Records.

Clark was still recording for Pye, but with little success. Freeman found a song that was to relaunch her British career. The song was "Sailor", written by David West, aka Norman Newell. It made #1 in February 1961.

Clark began her professional relationship with Tony Hatch, and became a world-famous singer. But she never forgot the man who gave her the chance to start recording, and on the occasion of Freeman's 50th birthday in 1968, whilst she was in Geneva, she rang him up in Australia to sing him a happy birthday.

Freeman also produced recordings of London performances by Marlene Dietrich and records featuring British comedian Tony Hancock; the re-enactments of "The Blood Donor" and "The Radio Ham" for an LP was a best seller in 1961. During the 1970s, Alan was a frequent panellist on ATV's Saturday night talent programme, New Faces.

He is sometimes confused with the late DJ Alan "Fluff" Freeman. Alan Freeman died on 15 March 1985 in Carshalton (Surrey), survived by his sister Pat.

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