Hugh Mendl

The Stage

A key figure at Decca Records, Hugh Mendl was a respected producer and A&R and label manager for more than four decades. He produced and worked with such names as the Moody Blues, Lonnie Donegan, Tommy Steele, Joan Regan and Dickie Valentine, as well as producing LPs of many stage shows, including Hello, Dolly! and Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be. He was also instrumental in signing David Bowie and Genesis to the Decca label.

Born in London on August 6, 1919, he was educated at Radley and went on to University College, Oxford. He had planned a career in the Diplomatic Service but decided to go into the record industry instead. He worked first as a post boy at Decca and then as assistant to the company secretary.

During the Second World War, he presented a jazz programme on Palestine Radio. After the war he returned to Decca where he became a radio plugger. He began producing in the early fifties, working with stars such as Winifred Atwell and in 1954 brought Donegan into the Decca studios to sing the now classic Rock Island Line.

In the sixties, Mendl signed up David Bowie and John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, as well as bands such as Caravan and Genesis. He also acted as executive producer on Days of Future Passed (1967) by the Moody Blues.

In 1979 Mendl suffered a major heart attack. The following year, Decca was sold to PolyGram and he retired from the music industry.

He moved to the West Country, where for many years he ran an antique shop. He died on July 7, aged 88. He is survived by his wife Beverley and four children.

Patrick Newley

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