Legendary Record Producers

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There are millions of web pages about music artists but remarkably few dealing with music producers. In reality record producers deserve a lot more recognition for their role in making music happen , dealing with artists, managers and record labels, assembling the right session musicians, stretching the limits of recording technology and steering artists towards commercial success while making innovative recordings.

The Producers listed here are some of the most innovative and influential names in the business.









Sam Philips - SUN Records

Sam Philips practically invented rock and roll, with his recordings of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. He also helped Blues artists like BB King, Howling Wolf and Ike Turner get recorded. Technically the classic Sun Studio recordings are known for trademark 'slapback' echo and more of a raw sound than typical 50's pop.
More about Sam Philips rock and roll contribution

Eddie Kramer - Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin

Eddie Kramer, is legendary in audio production circles for his work with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Small Faces, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, KISS, Crosby Stills & Nash, Santana, Frank Zappa, Tommy Bolin, Buddy Guy, and the 1969 Woodstock festival, plus countless others including Texas all-stars Johnny Winter and Double Trouble with Buddy Guy. He is also known for his music photography.
Further informationb about Eddie Kramer

Phil Spector - Tina Turner, The Ronettes, The Righteous Brothers

Phil Spector's use of echo, overdubbing and ambitious orchestration became known as 'The Wall of Sound'. His innovative teen-drama music was the defining sound of early 60's American Pop in the era before the British invasion. After 1966 and the small success of 'River Deep , Mountain High' he receded from the scene, curiously returning to work with several Beatle members , Lennon and Harrison on solo projects. Preferred the sound of Mono - allegedly because no-one could interfere with his studio-created balance. Sensationally in Feb 2003 he was charged with the murder of a 23 old woman at his California home.

George Martin - Beatles

George Martin's work with the Beatles was the pinnacle of a varied career which included classical, jazz and pop work. He has worked with artists including the Beatles, Judy Garland, Stan Getz, Peter Sellers, Cheap Trick, Peter Gabriel and Sting. Despite his classical roots, Martin was open minded enough to recognise the creative potential of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team and help develop it with creative arrangements and approaches.

Norman Smith - Pink Floyd

Norman Smith produced the two first album of Pink Floyd. Before this he was best known as the engineer on all the Beatles albums until "Rubber Soul". His work with Piper At The Gates Of Dawn prevented him from working on Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band which was recorded at the same time in a neighboring studio. In 1972 he had a hit with the song "Oh babe, what would you say?" under the name Hurricane Smith.

Mike Chapman & Nicky Chinn - ChinniChap

British hitmakers of the 70's glam-rock era, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman are not the recipients of much critical acclaim but had incredible chart success with artists like Sweet, Suzi Quattro, Smokie and Mud. Glam rock was certainly a major influence on British punk and in fact Mike Chapman went on to produce for Blondie, The Knack and Pat Benetar.

Phil Ramone

Phil Ramone, known for both musical and technical strengths, started out as a sound engineer in the 60's recording jazz artists such as John Coltrane and Stan Getz at his A&R recording studios. Moving into more mainstream production he worked with such artists as James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Burt Bacharach. His major pop breakthrough was with Paul Simon's Still Crazy album and he went onto assist Billy Joels breakthrough to the big time. Other credits include Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Tony Bennett and Barbara Streisand.

Holland/Dozier/Holland

Holland-Dozier-Holland was Motown Record's leading songwriting production team of the early to mid 1960's 'Golden Age'. Utilizing an excellent team of session musicians (The Funk Brothers) and sophisticated studio equipment, Brian Holland, Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, wrote and produced over twenty five top ten hits including Heat Wave, Nowhere to Run (Martha Reeves and the Vandellas), Can I get a Witness, How Sweet It Is (Marvin Gaye), I'm Losing You (The Temptations), Baby I Need Your Loving (Four Tops) and Baby Love (The Supremes). Other artists that benefited from their work were The Miracles and The Marvellettes. In 1967 they formed their own labels Invictus and Hot Wax, and produced further hits for Chairman of the Board and Freda Payne.

Ted Templeman Doobie Brothers, Van Halen

Warner Brothers executive and staff producer Ted Templeman has had a long-running relationship with The Doobie Brothers and Van Halen, and has produced some of the most highly regarded albums by Van Morrison, Little Feat, and Nicollete Larson. Whereas the Doobie Brothers were one of the most successful bands of the 1970s, Templeman's collaboration with Van Halen was responsible for a significant historical shift in rock music, ushering in what is thought of as the modern era of heavy metal/hard rock music. Templeman is famous for his ability to maintain good working relationsihps in the face of difficult personnel changes. After David Lee Roth split from Van Halen, Templeman managed to produce albums for both artists simultaneously apparently without ticking off either one

Alan Parsons

Alan Parsons was initially employed as a recording engineer at the EMI Abbey Road studios before moving into production. His first important work was his contributions to the last Beatles album called 'Abbey Road'. After this he worked with early recordings by Wings and Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother. His big breakthrough was the sound he created for Dark Side Of The Moon. Parsons received a Grammy for this album. Other work included producing for Paul McCartney, Al Stewart, Ambrosia and the Hollies. In 1974, he formed the duo Alan Parson's Project together with Eric Woolfson.

Shel Talmy - The Who, Kinks

Shel Talmy, an American freelance producer is known for some of greatest British pop acts of the 60's and 70's. His major contribution was bringing heavy and distorted riff-based guitar to the previously clean British sound. Talmy's first big hit was You Really Got Me for the Kinks. He also produced hits such as I Can't Explain for The Who and 'All of The Day' for the Kinks. Talmy was a devotee of the young Jimmy Page and used him on several Who/Kinks sessions. Other work included, David Bowie, Amen Corner, Bert Jansch, Pentangle, Small Faces and Manfred Mann.

Mickie Most

Founder of RAK records, Mickie Most was involved in the British pop scene through the 50's, 60's and 70's. Production credits include the Animals, The Nashville Teens, Donovan, Jeff Beck, Cozey Powell and Hot Chocolate.

Trevor Horn

Trevor Horn's career took off in the 80's with work including ABC, Malcolm Mclaren, his own Buggles, Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art Of Noise, 10 CC, Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds, Cher, Bryan Ferry and Seal. Known as one of the innovators of modern production with use of samples and computers at the start of the 1980's.

Dave Edmunds

Dave Edmunds, Welsh production and guitar wizard had hits in the 60's and 70's as a performer. Production credits include Stray Cats, Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Shakin'Stevens, Johnny Cash, Nick Lowe, Ian Drury, Ringo Starr and Albert Lee. Known for rockabilly influences and the capability of his Rockpile studion to recreate classic rock and roll feel.

Glyn Johns

Glyn Johns started his production career as Shel Talmy's British sidekick and as an engineer he worked on albums by the Who, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. As a producer in his own right , from around 1971 he produced for the Steve Miller band, the Who (Who's Next) and the Rolling Stones (Sticky Fingers). He had further success with the Eagles, Eric Clapton, the Faces and the Who.

Joe Meek

Joe Meek, the most enigmatic figure in British pop recording history was the first British independent producer and a true technological innovator. His handful of hits included 'Johnny Remember Me' for John Leyton (1961), the Tornadoes 'Telstar' (1962) and the Honeycombs 'Have I the Right' (1965). Recorded in a converted London shoeshop, these recordings featured heavy use of compression, echo and distortion. Other recording artist credits were for Screaming Lord Sutch, Ritchie Blackmore and Tom Jones. Joe Meek died in 1967 in a sensational murder/suicide double kiling. His career was shadowed by allegations of plagiarism, use of drugs and his homosexuality.

Tony Visconti

Best known for his partnership with David Bowie, their albums including Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold the World, Young Americans, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters and the latest Heathen. In the 70's he worked with Marc Bolan on their great singles Ride A White Swan, Hot Love , Metal Guru and so on. Other work includes Sparks, Talking Heads. Tony Visconti is also a noted bass player and has issued his own solo album Inventory.

Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson as an all-round entertainer, songwriter and producer has created hit songs such as: "Just to See Her," "Tracks of My Tears," "Ooh, Baby Baby," "Tears of a Clown," "My Girl," "My Guy," "Two Lovers," "Get Ready," "Cruisin',". Motown production credits include work with Mary Wells, the Miracles, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops and the Supremes.

John Cale

Multi-talented ex-Velvet John Cale joined Warners to as a staff producer. Cale however was not compatible with the corporate production approach and left in 1975. He has been freelancing since. Influential in proto-punk and new-wave production, he produced the classic Horses album by the Patti Smith Group as well as work with Squeeze, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, The Stooges, Sham 69 and Siouxsie and the Banshees. In the eighties he produced New Wave groups like Made for TV and Belgian singers of the Lio variety. The nineties found Cale producing the New Zealand act Garageland, Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses and fellow Welshman Alan Stivell. Recently he made the Mediæval Baebes sound like the 21th century angels.

Norman Whitfield

Norman Whitfield gained initial experience as a producer with Thelma Records in the early '60s and joined Motown in 63 working as a composer/producer for the Temptations, Velvelettes and the Marvelettes. As Temptations’ producer from 1966, Whitfield set about transforming the Temptations music, tailoring a succession of tough R&B songs including Ain't Too Proud To Beg, Beauty Is Only Skin Deep and I'm Losing You. Whitfield also worked with other Motown acts including Gladys Knight And The Pips, and writing one of the label's classic songs, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, producing hit versions of this number for both Knight and Marvin Gaye. In 68, Whitfield used sound effects for a Motown record for the first time on the Temptations’ I Wish It Would Rain to pioneer his concept of psychedelic soul which received mixed receptions. Other examples include I Can't Get Next To You, Ball Of Confusion. He wrote War for Edwin Starr at this time. Whitfield's production techniques matched this experimental mood, as he worked on an ever-larger scale, creating mini-operas out of songs like the Temptations’ 1972 number 1, Papa Was A Rolling Stone. In 1977 he left Motown to form his own Whitfield Records label. Initially he enjoyed success with Rose Royce, with whom he created CAR WASH. Later his production techniques failed to keep pace with the times, and by the early '80s he was no longer a significant force in black music.

Tom Dowd

Veteran Atlantic label producer, Tom Dowd, started as a house producer in the 1950's and went onto record Aretha Franklin, Allman Bros, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Ornette Coleman, Joe Turner, Charles Mingus, the Drifters, the Young Rascals and James Brown. He also recorded John Coltrane's Giant Steps and many other hits for Atlantic. His working relationship with Eric Clapton lasted from the British guitarist's days with Cream through Derek and the Dominos and his later solo successes. Clapton dubbed him "the ideal recording man'' in a 1996 interview. When he left Atlantic at the end of the '60s, Dowd became established as one of rock's preeminent producers, supervising such classics as Live at Fillmore East by the Allman Brothers Band and Layla by Derek and the Dominoes.

Lou Adler

Succesful with 60's acts, including the Mamas the Papas, Sam Cooke and Jan Dean , Adlers most notable contributions to pop culture are the landmark Carole King album Tapestry and the production of the Monterey Pop film that helped expose Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Janis Joplin to a wider audience. Adler went on to produce the Cheech and Chong albums and also brought the Rocky Horror Show to the US.

Mike Vernon

Mike Vernon was the leading record producer of the British blues boom in the late '60s, working on recordings by John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, Duster Bennett, Savoy Brown, and Ten Years After. In particular Vernon was responsible for the John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers 'Beano' album, wherein a young Eric Clapton defined the new sound of electric blues with his Les Paul and Marshall stack combination. Later work included David Bowies first album and work with Focus and Bloodstone

Gary Katz

Gary Katz - best known for his production of the entire Steely Dan output, some of the tightest and most technically adept recordings ever, Katz also worked with Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, 10cc (mark iii) and Laura Nyro.

Chris Thomas

Perhaps best known for the pivotal Sex Pistols album Never Mind The Bollocks, Chris Thomas has been involved with many other acts since the early 60's. Credits include The Beatles (White Album), Climax Blues Band, Roxy Music, Procul Harum, Badfinger, Pink Floyd , The Pretenders, INXS and Elton John.

Brian Eno

'Being a record producer is the best paid form of cowardice' - Quote. Brian Eno was born in England, 1948. In the 1960's he dabbled in various avant garde projects (including playing clarinet with the legendary Portsmouth Sinfonia) but found his big break in 1972 with glam-rock band Roxy Music, for whom he provided electronic texture and a bizaare on-stage persona. He was involved in 3 albums notably the acclaimed 'For Your Pleasure'. Production credits include U2, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Devo, No New York and Laurie Anderson. In many cases he helped artists find different avenues and approachs. He practically invented ambient music and also helped the development of world music.

Barry Mraz

Barry Mraz, producer and engineer with credits for Styx, David Johansen and Simply Red. He was engineer and producer of much of the early Styx stuff. He believed a reel of tape should be used exactly once and he was seriously anal about using them only once. Needless to say his tape costs drove everybody else crazy. He designed Plynth Studio's in Libertyville IL and was their first engineer. He made one album himself with a band called Food. He was also a superlative drummer but walked away from that because recording was his first (and maybe ONLY) real lovel.

Moby

Richard Melville Hall aka Moby, was one of the leading electronic dance music producers of the early '90s, helping bring the music to a wider audience both in Eaurope and the US. Moby coupled rapid disco beats with heavy distorted guitars, punk rhythms and detailed productions that drew from pop, dance and movie soundtracks. The single "Thousand" features 1000 beats per minute. His lifestyle was hardly orthodox to the dance milieu with his Christian views and environmental/vegan beliefs. In 1996 Moby changed tack and produced the guitar rock 'Animal Rights' - material since then has used both rock and elctronic approachs.

The Bihari Brothers

The Bihari Brothers, Joe, Lester, Jules and Saul originally got into the recording business in 1945, to provide material for their Los Angeles jukebox business. Founding Modern Records in 1945, they helped launch the recording careers of many artists including, Jimmy Witherspoon, Lightning Hopkins, BB King, Elmore James, Lowell Fulson, Ike Turner and Junior Parker. The brothers enjoyed occasional pop chart success in the 50's with songs such as the Cadets 'Stranded in the Jungle'. Their labels included Modern, Meteor, Flair, Kent, Crown and RPM.

John Hammond (Sr)

John Hammond has been an influential talent scout , producer and critic over 5 decades, bringing blues and swimg artists including Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Charlie Christian, George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen into the studio and the public eye. Although born into a wealthy NY family he did much to help promote and integrate black music.

Joe Boyd

US-born Joe Boyd was the first Pink Floyd producer during the Syd Barret era and was responsible for early album 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn' and the classic single 'Arnold Layne'. Boyd was the production manager at the ground breaking 1965 Newport Folk Festival and his latter career in the UK included production work for Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson, The Incredible String Band, Nick Drake, John Martyn as well as an early Eric Clapton/PaulJones/Stevie Winwood collaboration. Also produced the documentary 'A Film About Jimi Hendrix'.

Norrie Paramor

Norrie Paramor was one of the leading British record producers of the 50’s and early 60’s. Initially known for easy listening and light music, his first big hit as a producer was trumpeter Eddie Calvert’s ‘O Mein Papa’ in 1953. His real claim to fame is as producers of Britain’s first generation of modern pop stars, Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Billy Fury, Frank Ifield, Tony Crombie and Helen Shapiro as well as latterly with The Scaffold.

Tony Clarke

English-born Tony Clarke rose from session bass player to producer and after some initial success , notably with the Equals 'Baby Come Back', produced 8 albums for the Moody Blues including the classic 'Days of Future Passed' and 'To Our Children's Children's Children'. Clarke helped the Moody Blues develop their characteristic complex and progressive orchestral style, featuring the Mellotron sound.

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page, best known as a guitarist, also acted as producer on all of Led Zeppelin’s 10 studio albums , 3 of which feature in the top 40 best-selling albums. By 1969 Page was already a studio veteran as a session player and had a few production credits for Screaming Lord Sutch, John Mayall, Paul and The Fleur De Lys. Page’s production is distinctive and innovative, particularly his respect for ambient sound, acoustic instrumentation skill with studio tools, such as reverse echo. His use of mike placement and small amps to generate tone and depth is notable. Subsequent production credits include The Firm, the movie Death Wish, Coveradale and the new Zeppelin concert DVDs.

David Kershenbaum

David Kershenbaum is a veteran music entrepreneur and producer who started out with RCA in Chicago and became a creative force at A&M where he discovered and developed Joe Jackson. Among the artists he helped were Joe Jackson, Tori Amos, Tracey Chapman, Bryan Adams, Duran Duran, Janet Jackson, Supertramp and Peter Frampton.

Jerry Wexler

Jerry Wexler got into the music business as a critic and reporter for Billboard magazine. where he created the term Rhythm and Blues. He become a partner in Atlantic Records in 1953 and as a hands-on record executive was extensively involved with developing an influential stable of artits, including Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, Ray Charles, The Drifters and later Led Zeppelin. Bob Dylan and George Michael.

Gamble and Huff

Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff are a Philadelphia based song writing and record production team , who founded Phildelphia International records and pioneered the Philadelphia Sound. Their music featured smoother arrangements, more strings, a disco feel in the drums and bass. Some of the artists they worked with include Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendegrass, The O'Jays, Patti LaBelle, Lou Rawls, The Jacksons, Billy Paul, Archie Bell and the Drells. Notable productions include Me and Mrs Jones (Billy Paul), Love Train (O'Jays), Backstabbers (O'Jays) and If You Don't Know me By Now (Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes) amongst many others.

Todd Rundgren

Born in the Philadelphia Suburbs, multi-talented as a performer, Todd Rundgren's credits as a producer include New York Dolls, Bad Finger, Grand Funk Railroad, Hall and Oates, Meat Loaf, Patti Smith, The Tubes, Tom Robinson Band, XTC, Bad Religion, Cheap trick, Steve Hillage, The Band.


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