Oldfield's career began fairly early, playing acoustic guitar in local folk clubs. At this time, he already had two 15-minute instrumental pieces in which he would "go through all sorts of moods", precursors to his landmark 1970s compositions. In his early teens, Oldfield was involved in a beat group playing The Shadows-style music (he has often cited Hank Marvin as a major influence, and would later cover The Shadows' song "Wonderful Land"). In 1967 Oldfield and his sister formed the folk duo The Sallyangie and were signed to Transatlantic Records after exposure in the local folk scene. An album, Children of the Sun, was issued in 1968. After The Sallyangie disbanded, he formed another duo, called Barefoot, with his brother, which took him back to rock music.
In 1970 he joined The Whole World – the backing group to vocalist Kevin Ayers, formerly of Soft Machine – playing bass guitar and occasionally lead guitar. The band also included keyboardist and composer David Bedford, who quickly befriended Oldfield, and encouraged him in his composition of an early version of Tubular Bells. Bedford would later arrange and conduct an orchestral version of that album. Oldfield is featured on two Ayers albums, Whatevershebringswesing and Shooting at the Moon.
Having recorded a number of demo pieces of music, which would later turn into Tubular Bells, Oldfield attempted to persuade record labels to take the project on, without success. In September 1971 Oldfield went to The Manor Studio, owned by a young Richard Branson and run by engineers Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth, to record as bass guitarist in the Arthur Louis Band. Branson already had a number of business ventures and was about to start his own record label, Virgin Records. After Newman and Heyworth heard Oldfield's demo they took it to Branson and Simon Draper. They eventually gave Oldfield one week to record at The Manor, during which Oldfield completed "Part One" of Tubular Bells. "Part Two" was then completed over a number of months.
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