IN the sixties the violent death of British maverick pop producer Joe Meek rocked the pop world.

It also had a huge impact on Hampshire's Heinz Burt who had been an ordinary teenager living in railway town Eastleigh when he was fast tracked to fame by the Meek.

Heinz, who died nearly 17 years ago, was the blonde bass guitarist in The Tornados.

He and his fellow bandmates made chart history by taking Telstar – the haunting instrumental which was former Premier Margaret Thatcher’s favourite record – to number one on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Joe Meek Society has kept Meek’s name and music alive. Now his followers, sometimes known as Meek Freeks, are marking the 50 th anniversary of his death with a series of events.

It was on February 3, 1967 that a 37 year-old Meek , paranoid and his brain addled by lack of sleep, picked up a shotgun and killed his landlady Violet Shenton before turning the gun on himself.

The flat above his legendary studios in Holloway Road, Islington, was a bloodbath.

Telstar gave the pioneering pop producer worldwide fame, including the prestigious Ivor Novello award, but the euphoria was short lived.

Those linked with the iconic recording seemed to be struck with the Telstar curse. The Tornados never made a fortune and their lives did not run smoothly after the chart-busting success.

French composer Jean Ledrut accused Meek of plagiarism, claiming that the melody had been copied from a score he had written for the 1960 film Austerlitz.

The controversy landed Meek in court and the lawsuit meant that he did not receive royalties from the record during his lifetime. And the issue was not resolved in his favour until three weeks after his death in 1967.

Meek's depression deepened as his financial position became increasingly desperate.

Many believe that the death of Joe Meek was a turning point in Heinz’s career and the stardust began to fade.

Heinz was caught up in the aftermath of the drama which brought the record producer’s life to a gruesome end. For the gun used in the double killing belonged to The Tornados star.

Between touring and recording Heinz relaxed by disappearing into the country and shooting game. One night he returned to the Holloway Road studio. He did not want to leave the gun in the car so he took it inside.

Weary after a long recording session with Meek, Heinz left the studio forgetting to take the gun with him.

After the brutal killings Heinz was quizzed by police but cleared of any involvement. After the inquest Heinz ordered that the gun should be destroyed.

The fact that the firearm, used in the murder and suicide, belonged to him was to play heavily on Heinz’s mind over the following years.

That ugly episode of pop history and the leading role that Heinz played in Meek’s stable of stars, including Screaming Lord Sutch, was turned into a movie, Telstar. The drama was also played out on a stage in London’s West End.

Another film, A Life in the Death of Joe Meek made by American documentary makers, is about to hit the screen.

Meek had wanted to make Heinz, with his film star looks, into the next Cliff Richard.

After Heinz broke away from The Tornados his solo career took off in a big way, soaring into the top ten with Just Like Eddie – a tribute to his rock hero Eddie Cochran.

Sadly, it became that classic riches to rages showbiz story. Heinz died on April 7, 2000 at the untimely age of 57 after battling with motor neurone disease. It was reported that he died with only £18 to his name.

Meek death coincided with the eighth anniversary of 22 year-old Buddy Holly’s death. Holly had been Meek’s idol and he claimed that the late American rocker had spoken to him from the grave.

On February 3, 1959, Holly along with fellow musicians Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa

The tragedy later became known as The Day the Music Died, after singer-songwriter Don McLean so referred to it in his 1971 song American Pie

Meek also left behind a rich musical legacy.

At the time of his death, he possessed thousands of unreleased recordings later dubbed The Tea Chest Tapes.

Those tapes were thought to have included the work of Heinz Burt, who in the sixties had waved goodbye to his Eastleigh hometown to seek fame with Meek in the big city.

Fifty years on it’s a story that is still etched in the history of the golden era of pop.