WHEN Colchester's Phil Toms decided to transcribe note for note, one of the most iconic albums in history, he probably didn't realise quite what he was starting.

"Mike Oldfield was a massive inspiration to me when I was growing up," he says. "I remember watching this documentary at the age of six about him writing the Blue Peter theme and it's remained with me ever since."

Starting with the hit singles of the Eighties, Phil eventually worked his way back through the Mike Oldfield catalogue until he came across the album that kicked started the whole thing off, Tubular Bells.

Recorded when Mike Oldfield was still only 19 in 1973, the album is famous for a number of other reasons, including being the first album released by Richard Branson's Virgin Records and part of it forming a segment of the London Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Phil's own obsession started a few years ago when Oldfield released a 16 multi-track which separated every instrument used on the album but only 14 minutes worth of the original recording.

"It was for a re-mixing competition," he explains, "but because I have perfect pitch and can listen to a note and know exactly what it is, it enabled me to transcribe the various parts. With the renewed interest because of the Olympics there were various re-issues of stereo surround sound versions and some of his older demos which allowed me to deconstruct the whole thing.

"There was no real reason to doing it, I just wanted to see how the album worked, what went into it and how the various parts were put together. I wanted to get into the nitty gritty and pull the thing apart, I suppose a bit like a mechanic might do to an engine."

In the end it took Phil two years off and on, in between his job as head of schools for music, performing arts and digital media degrees at Colchester Institute.

Then through his job he met with fellow musician Jay Stapely.

"I was interviewing him for a job," he smiles, "and he just happened to mention he had worked with Mike Oldfield. So I gave him the job and then said 'right, let's talk about you and Mike Oldfield'.

"I suppose it was having a Mike Oldfield alumni working at the college that got me to thinking about possibly doing a Tubular Bells concert."

That took place in November 2015, over two nights in the Swinburne Hall at Colchester Institute, which promptly sold out nine months in advance.

"We had people coming from all over the world," Phil tells me. "Germany, Brazil, Canada and America as well as a huge local crowd as well. It was just so incredibly popular. As soon as I posted the concert notice on-line it went crazy."

For those live concerts, Phil assembled 25 top performers from teachers, friends and graduates of Colchester Institute plus a few celebrity VIPs to perform live, which included the original Tubular Bells producer, Tom Newman.

"Someone on Facebook knew him and put us in touch," Phil reveals. "He's an incredible guy who has done it all in the music business. He's one of the guy sitting by the chimney when the Beatles did their gig on top of the Apple Building.

"When I finally got to talk to him he asked who we had got to do the Caveman voices that were on the original record and I asked him whether he wanted to do them, and he agreed."

In another spectacular coup, Tom subsequently told Richard Branson about the project which led to the Virgin boss recording the 'Masters of Ceremonies' piece, listings all the musical instruments involved, which was originally made by Vivian Stanshall.

"It's been great having all of their blessings to our project," Phil adds. "Up until recently we were just waiting for the man himself but to be fair to Mike he has been a little bit busy promoting his latest record. A couple of months ago he retweeted something I posted on it and so I'm kind of taking that as an approval of sorts."

Now Phil is returning with members of his band to perform highlights from Mike Oldfield’s musical career in aid of the Mercury’s fundraising campaign, Mercury Rising.

As well as Tubular Bells Part 1 in full there will be excerpts from other instrumental albums including Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, Incantations, Tubular Bells II and III, and his latest album from January this year, Return to Ommadawn. The programme will also feature chart hits such as Moonlight Shadow, To France, Guilty and Five Miles Out.

For the special night, Phil has brought together a 12 piece band this time, including stage and television actress and vocalist Nicole Faraday, perhaps best known for her roles in Bad Girls, Casualty and Emmerdale, and Colchester's Matyas Bacsó who will be singing Man on the Rocks and Moonshine.

Also appearing will be Mersea Island-based Jay Stapley, who returns to the stage on lead guitar.

Phil adds: "It's great to bring the music of Mike Oldfield to the live stage again. On the whole, you can only hear live performances of this music in Colchester, Spain and Russia as well as the touring duo Tubular Bells For Two.

"After the success of the last two concerts, we were amazed that his fans are travelling back to Colchester from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and even Brazil in addition to the loyal regional and national audience."

Tubular Bells Live!

Mercury Theatre,

Balkerne Gate, Colchester.

April 8. 7.30pm.

£21. 01206 573948.