If you had written Tubular Bells as a teenager and saw it go on to sell in excess of 17 million copies worldwide, in the process setting you up for a critically acclaimed and eclectic 35-year career, you might be entitled to want to take it easy. Swapping your Reading roots for a beach house in the Bahamas makes a strong “I’m retired” statement too.
But the 2012 Olympics changed all that. One unanticipated phone call from opening ceremony organiser Danny Boyle later and the reclusive musician was taking centre stage in the biggest show on Earth, performing the most famous section from the instrumental-opus that is Tubular Bells.
It set him on the course that has led to Man on the Rocks, his first album of new material in six years.
“When they asked me I fell on the floor!” Oldfield, 60, says of Boyle’s invitation. “I couldn’t believe it. When I first spoke to Danny Boyle I didn’t have to think about it. There was nothing else that would get me away from the Bahamas. It was the most prodigious event you can think of.
“And it lived up to my expectations – fantastic to work with all these amazing people, the best that the country could get together. There was none of this ‘the Olympic ring didn’t turn up’, it all worked like clockwork. Everybody loved it. On the background on my computer screen I have a picture of the show to this day. It really is the pinnacle as far as I can see.