Tubular Bells is the debut record album of English musician Mike Oldfield, recorded when he was 19 and released in 1973. It was the first album released by Virgin Records and an early cornerstone of the company's success. Vivian Stanshall provided the voice of the "Master of Ceremonies" who reads off the list of instruments at the end of the first movement. The opening piano solo was used as a soundtrack to the William Friedkin film The Exorcist (released the same year) and gained considerable airplay because of the film's success.
Mike Oldfield played most of the instruments on the album, recording them one at a time and layering the recordings to create the finished work. Many of his subsequent albums feature this technique. Though fairly common in the music industry now, at the time of the production of Tubular Bells not many musicians made use of it, preferring multi-musician "session" recordings.
Oldfield approached (and was rejected by) many other established record labels. Some of the rejections were because they believed the piece to be unmarketable. Oldfield then played his demos to some of the engineers at The Manor; they, along with their boss, Richard Branson, decided to give Oldfield a chance. Virgin Records released Oldfield's debut album Tubular Bells as its first album; hence the catalogue number V2001 (although V2002, Gong's The Flying Teapot, and V2003, the compilation Manor Live, were released on the same date).