'Tubular Bells' Oldfield proud of Olympic opener

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By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Mike Oldfield wants to use the Olympics opening ceremony as a rallying cry.

The British musician performed his most famous composition, "Tubular Bells," during Friday's spectacular, and says it was an honor — and a vindication for a much-reviled musical genre: instrumental rock.

The album "Tubular Bells" was released in 1973, used as theme music for "The Exorcist" and sold millions. But a few years later the punk movement triggered a backlash against its brand of swirling progressive rock.

Oldfield says it's time for a comeback.

Sales of "Tubular Bells" took off after Friday's ceremony — rising 757 percent at music chain HMV — and Oldfield said Tuesday he hopes to use the ceremony "as a relaunch for instrumental music — real music."

"Let's throw away all the computer software," Oldfield said from his home in the Bahamas.

He said the sophistication of modern technology means "you just get a load of software and click a few buttons. You don't have to have the slightest bit of musical talent."

He said 'Tubular Bells' was played on real musical instruments.

Despite his disenchantment with some modern music, Oldfield praised other musicians at Friday's show — especially the electronic duo Underworld, the London ceremony's musical directors.

The 59-year-old said he felt a "glow of pride" when director Danny Boyle approached him a year ago and asked him to be in the ceremony, which celebrated five decades of British music.

Oldfield said his music "suffered the inevitable backlash that everyone had to go through. If you are up, there is the inevitable down."

"To finally be vindicated 40 years later, to be seen as something that is valid and important ... was wonderful," he said.

Like Paul McCartney, Arctic Monkeys and other big-name acts, Oldfield was paid a token fee of 1 pound ($1.57) for his appearance.

He performed versions of "Tubular Bells" and his piece "In Dulci Jubilo" during one of the evening's most striking scenes — a tribute to the National Health Service performed by dancing nurses and pajama-clad children on oversized beds.

Oldfield, whose father was an NHS doctor and mother a World War II nurse, said Britain was right to sing the institution's praises.

"You get used to the NHS if you live in England," he said. "You hurt yourself, you call the ambulance, they'll take you to the emergency and they'll treat you for nothing."

"It's a wonderful thing," he added. "It's right to celebrate it."

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Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

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