Death Of Hit Writer & Status Quo Producer John Schroeder
Schroeder played significant roles in the early development of many UK artists and in the formative story of the Motown label in the UK.
British record producer, songwriter and executive John Schroeder passed away on 31 January 2017 at the age of 82, after a long fight with cancer. In a long and varied career stretching back to the late 1950s, he played significant roles in the early development of UK artists ranging from Helen Shapiro to Status Quo, and in the formative story of the Motown label in the British market.
Schroeder, born in London in 1935, joined EMI Records in 1957 as an assistant to Norrie Paramor, the A&R manager of the Columbia label. There, he worked on records by such artists as Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Frank Ifield, Tommy Bruce and Helen Shapiro. She was just 15 when she raced to No. 1 in the UK with ‘Walkin’ Back To Happiness,’ co-written by Schroeder and Mike Hawker. He co-wrote several more singles for Shapiro including the further hits ‘Don’t Treat Me Like A Child,’ ‘You Don’t Know’ and ‘Little Miss Lonely.’
Joining the independent Oriole Records as A&R manager in late 1961, Schroeder had success with Maureen Evans and Swedish instrumental group the Spotnicks. Oriole had the distinction of being the first label that regularly licenced and released Motown material in the UK, although the rising Detroit company didn’t see chart action there until a later deal with EMI’s Stateside.
In late 1964 and ’65, Sounds Orchestral, the group Schroeder formed with arranger and orchestra leader Johnny Pearson, had a major hit with their version of ‘Cast Your Fate To The Wind,’ written and first recorded by American jazz musician and pianist Vince Guaraldi. At Pye, he worked with a vast number of British acts, producing Status Quo’s first hit single, ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men,’ in 1968.
Schroeder recorded numerous easy listening albums of his own, including Latin Vibrations and Dylan Vibrations, covering popular hits and artists. He launched the Alaska label in 1972, working closely with the British funk collective Cymande. He later moved to Canada before returning to England and publishing his autobiography, Sex and Violins.
Cymande wrote on their website after hearing of Schroeder’s death: “John has been a great friend, and a totally inspirational producer of the band’s music. He was also a fantastic support to Cymande for more than forty years. He will be greatly missed. Our deepest condolences to his wife Diane and to the rest of his family. Long may his memory live on.”
March 12, 2017 at 2:12 pm
A truly great man and Legend ,i am so glad i had the pleasure to meet him , he was so nice to converse with and it was truly a pleasure to have known him , John, thank you for your praise on the recording i did With Les Payne ,it was appreciated and i will treasure those kind words of yours, Rest in Peace , you will always be remembered ,not only for your talents but also for your kindness and pleasant mannerism . x Jacqui Blue
September 16, 2018 at 10:03 pm
Hi Jacqui.I remember meeting you.Was a while ago now.John I got married 3 years ago.He was the loveliest,sweetest man ever, and a real gentleman. I was so lucky to have him for the time I did. I loved him so much and miss him dreadfully.Lovely to read your post. He was much loved. Thank you.Love. Diane xx
September 16, 2018 at 8:35 pm
I wrote to John a year before his death making asking about his 1967 album The a Dolly Catcher,he wrote back a lovely polite letter telling as much as he could about the album and how pleased he was that his work of 50 years ago was still an influence on the younger generation.RIP John a great guy.
September 16, 2018 at 10:11 pm
Hi Jacqui.I remember meeting you.Was a while ago now.John & I got married 3 years ago.He was the loveliest,sweetest man ever, and a real gentleman. I was so lucky to have him for the time I did. I loved him so much and miss him dreadfully.Lovely to read your post. He was much loved. Thank you.Love. Diane xx
September 16, 2018 at 10:13 pm
Thank you Steve. Diane Schroeder.
July 15, 2019 at 1:04 pm
A friend of mine Ron O’Shea, was John’s business partner at ‘Alaska’ for many years. He always said what a pleasure it was to work with “The Schroeder” for all of that time. He remembers John, with his “squash days”, his Hairdresser appointments, his two models of Mercedes cars in the downstairs garage, his love of Cigars, and a great deal more. Ron spoke of him fondly, and remembers the trips to ‘Midem’ the Music business fair in the South of France, where business was transacted with foreign record companies. He was seemingly a lovely guy, and a “character”.
November 16, 2019 at 9:40 pm
John was the loveliest man ever.I was very lucky to have him for the years I did. And yes….a great character….very confident, but not in an arrogant way. I so loved him, And Will always miss him.