A MUSICIAN and sound engineer who manufactured and distributed Oxford band Supergrass’s first single has died, aged 40.

David Norland, of Blackbird Leys, started record label Back Beats in 1993 and later founded recording studio Soundworks in 1999.

Professionally, he was a freelance sound engineer and had experience working at many of Oxford’s most well-known music venues, including the Zodiac – now the O2 Academy Oxford – where he was at one stage a staff member.

In 1994 Mr Norland was also one of the people who helped reopen the Penultimate Picture Palace as a ‘squat cinema’, before the Grade-II listed building was acquired by the Marham brothers and rebranded the Ultimate Picture Palace in 1997.

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David Norland was born on May 23, 1974, to parents Khalil and Layla.

He grew up in East Oxford and was a pupil at Bishop Kirk School and Cherwell School.

In 1993 Mr Norland decided to start a record label and wrote letters to a number of people in the music industry pitching his idea.

He was to receive a cheque for £600 in the post from Genesis frontman and drummer Phil Collins and used that money to help found Backbeat Records.

In 1994 the label manufactured and distributed Supergrass single Caught By The Fuzz.

Vinyl copies of the record were made in limited number, but caught the attention of producer Sam Williams, who would go on to re-release the song under Parlophone Records and also produce their debut album I Should Coco.

Former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes said: “Dave was instrumental in getting Caught By The Fuzz out on 7-inch vinyl, which led to us getting signed.

“He went above and beyond at times to help us during those early days, he always fought for the underdog.”

After working with a number of Oxford bands at Backbeat Records, Mr Norland went on to establish recording studio Soundworks, in Blackbird Leys, with friend Nat Duke.

He also formed the reggae band Mackating with his brother Daniel and friends, as well as helping to found Leys community radio station OX4 FM, later known as OX105 FM and now Destiny 105.1 FM.

Mr Norland married his wife Kaneng (nee Botsha) in 2009, at Oxford Register Office, and the couple lived together in Blackbird Leys.

David Norland died after a battle with cancer on Friday, October 10. He is survived by his wife, his brothers Daniel and Ben and his father.

A funeral will take place on October 28, in St Mary and St John Church, Cowley Road. All are welcome.

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