People I Have Known
As one who worked in the entertainment industry, It should go without saying that I
have met plenty of entertainers. Out of that, came so many stories that several
people have said that I should write a book. Maybe I will. But in the meantime,
here is a list of some of the people that I met and/or worked with.
Let me start by saying that, in all instances, I am quoting from memory. Therefore,
those mentioned here may have a slightly different recollection.
The names listed below, with some exceptions, are those of famous artists.
Not mentioned are most of the band members and technical staff. I knew and
worked with all of them that were associated with the ‘Stars’ and they are all great
people that were also very
and talented. A number of the band
members and/or session musicians are mentioned in the stories associated with
the names listed below. Quite a number of those not mentioned, are indeed
responsible for the success of those that are on this list. Some of the names are
combined because, in those instances, I worked with both individuals on the same
I have also added those who had a great influence on my career.
This page is being added to and changed regularly.
George Augspurger is a living legend. His name is familiar throughout the recording
industry and he has name recognition. Most studios, that George has done work
for, will advertise that fact. Although I knew who he was, I got to meet him when I
worked at Sunset Sound. I used to follow him around whenever I had the chance
and pepper him with questions. George was always very accommodating and
would share his vast knowledge.
My first encounter with Hoyt was when I did the editing and assembly of the 2Tr.
Master audio tape of his album “Fearless” and Hoyt came to listen to the playback
and approve everything before the tape was sent to the record company and
mastering lab. The record was recorded and mixed by Alex Kazanegras. When it
came time to assemble the audio tape master, Alex couldn’t make it because he
was booked for another project and the task was handed off to me.
Years later (1979) I received a call from Hoyt’s secretary, Marlene, asking if I would
travel to Lake Tahoe, CA to record a demo with Hoyt and the band for a children’s
story that he had written. The recording was to take place at Hoyt’s home in North
Shore, Lake Tahoe. Hoyt’s home was a four story house built on the side of a hill
overlooking the entire lake. It consisted of eight bedrooms, five bathrooms and with
a dining room that had a table long enough to seat the entire band plus guests. The
recording equipment was stored in a closet and had to be set up and calibrated.
Hoyt and the band were still on tour and would arrive at the house with me set up
and ready to record. The living room was the recording room (a room that was 25’
by 40’ with a 36’ cathedral ceiling). The adjacent breakfast nook served as the
control room. Hoyt and the band arrived late one afternoon and after a round of
introductions, they proceeded to schlep their equipment up three flights of narrow
stairs and set up in the living room. After a sound check, dinner was served and
following the dinner break, we began running down the song “He’s in My Power”
with Hoyt producing and yours truly at the controls. During the session, Hoyt puffed
on a tobacco pipe that contained marijuana. He offered me a hit from his pipe
several times during the recording session and I always politely refused, citing that
I needed to stay focused. We recorded several takes of the song and Hoyt never
got the take he was looking for. Although I had been told that we could erase
everything, I head-leadered the beginning of the last (and best) take anyhow. The
band members went to bed after what had been a very long day and Hoyt and I
retired to the living (recording) room. Now, out of excuses, I proceeded to get high
with Hoyt only after he assured me that we were done for the day. While we were
chatting, Hoyt was playing with this section of ribbed tubing, twirling it while the
tube made a whistling sound. Hoyt explained that the tube was capable of three
different notes depending on how fast the tube was twirled. The sound made by the
tube was somewhat ethereal and Hoyt wanted to try recording several tracks of it
as a sound effect to be used in the Children’s story. Then he suggested: “Why don’t
we record a few tracks now, just to see if the idea will work?” I reminded him that
he had assured me that we were done for the day before I got high with him. After
some convincing by Hoyt, I found myself putting the 16Tr. tape back on the
machine. I spun down to the last 30 seconds or so and we recorded about twelve
tracks of Hoyt swinging the hose at various speeds. We stopped there and Hoyt
came into the breakfast nook for a playback and we both agreed that he was onto
something. It was then I discovered that I had rewound too far for a couple of takes
and erased a few seconds of the end of the best take of “He’s in My Power”,
replacing it with a few tracks of the twirling hose recording. My blood ran cold. This
was the cardinal sin of recording engineers and I had never, ever, done anything
like this before. Sensing something was wrong, Hoyt asked: “What happened?”
And so, I told him. He stood there, silent, while my life flashed before my eyes.
After what seemed like an eternal silence, Hoyt said: “I was not happy with any of
those takes anyway so we’ll jump on this song first thing tomorrow with a rested
band. Meanwhile, we got in a good rehearsal and now we know we can do
something with the sound effect.” The next day, the band played a killer version of
the song and I felt somewhat exonerated. Hoyt and I became good friends.
Ultimately, I installed the recording equipment in a studio environment that was
built on to the house. I recorded four albums and several commercials with Hoyt at
his house. I had the pleasure of getting to know his entire family and met many of
his friends and colleagues.
I met Joan (and her band) when we were recording one of her tours with the Haji
Sound Recording truck. The result of our efforts became the record “From Every
Stage.” There were several memorable events from that tour, but the one that
sticks out was the encore at the Sacramento Civic Auditorium. The hall itself was
long and narrow and the reflection from the back wall reached the stage about a
short second after the sound was initiated on-stage. The trade term for this
phenomenon is “Slap Back.” We warned the band about the situation and they
learned how to deal with it during the sound check. When the audience arrived and
was seated, the Slap Back was diminished considerably but not eliminated. After
the show, when Joan came out for her encore, she had decided to sing “Amazing
Grace”, A-Capella, with the audience. During the first verse of the song, she
realized that the slap back was an issue so she sang harmony with the echo and
the audience, almost simultaneously. The audience was stunned. It was as though
they had a religious experience. Shortly after Joan had left the stage, I went into
the arena to collect the audience mics and the audience was still in their seats,
wondering what had just happened. Obviously, that version of “Amazing Grace”
made the album. It seems that every artist has a website now and Joan Baez is no
Hal Blaine was one of recorded music’s legendary drummers. Hal was the
foundation for “The Wrecking Crew” (AKA, “The Clique”). During the 1960’s, Hal
Blaine played on 80% of the Rock & Roll and Pop music that was recorded in Los
Angeles, CA. Hal had two employees who’s job it was to set up his drum sets
ahead of his studio bookings. I knew them as Rick and Robbie. The three of us
became good friends and I used to attend Sprint Car races with them. Hal would
occasionally accompany us to those races. In addition to setting up Hal Blaine’s
drums before recording sessions, Rick and Robbie used to maintain all of Hal’s
drum sets and build new drums as well. They became known at their craft and
several drummers used their services.
One morning, I was setting the microphones for a commercial date at Wally
Heider’s Studio 3 (Hollywood) when Rick and Robbie hauled in Hal’s newest set.
This set had an array of 11 tom-toms and barley fit into the drum booth. I was
devastated as I had only assigned 4 microphones for the drums (which, we’re
already in place) thinking that Hal would be playing the usual ‘cocktail set’ as he
had on so many commercial dates. There wasn’t time to make a change. I
explained my predicament to Rick and Robbie who stood there with a ‘deer in the
headlights’ look when Hal walked in and asked: “What’s the problem?” I explained
the situation and Hal said: “No problem, gimme a Kick, Snare and two overheads
and I’ll play to them.” I miked the drums as Hal suggested and walked away
shaking my head. To my surprise, Hal did indeed play to the microphone setup.
When it came time for him to play a fill, he would hit the toms with an intensity
based on their distance from the microphones. I was blown away. No wonder the
guy was a legend.
Delaney Bramlett was best known for the band: “Delaney, Bonnie & Friends.” I got
to know Delaney when we recorded about five songs at his house in Shadow Hills,
CA using the Haji Sound Recording truck as the studio control room. On one
occasion during those couple of weeks, Delaney told me this story:
While George Harrison was on tour with Delaney, Bonnie & Friends, he asked
Delaney if he would show him how he wrote a gospel tune and Delaney agreed.
After completing a sound check one day, Delaney and Harrison were jamming and
the song “He’s So Fine” came into Delaney’s head and he used the chord structure
to show Harrison how he built a gospel song starting with a few chord changes.
Delaney had the background singers chime in with “Hallelujah” while he and
George Harrison put together a few impromptu lyrics. Delaney said that about a
month or so after the tour ended, he heard their “impromptu” song on the radio. He
called George Harrison to warn him about the song and before Delaney could say
anything, Harrison told him that due to an error by his publishing company, Delaney
was not listed as one of the song writers and not to worry that he would be listed as
the co-writer. Delaney said to Harrison that he was, in fact, relieved to hear that he
was not listed on the publishing. He went on to explain the “He’s So Fine” chord
changes and told Harrison that it never occurred to him that Harrison would use
their impromptu song from that sound check. According to Delaney, the settlement
cost George Harrison about $400,000.00 (in 1975 dollars!).
Byron is perhaps best known for being the three-time national fiddle champion. As
a session musician, Byron was one of the best. His list of credits reads like the
who’s who of the music industry. I recorded him several times and he always
wowed everyone who was there. Byron is a very gentle soul. I had the opportunity
to visit him at home and meet his family. He’s still at it, plays regularly and has a
music store: The Doublestop Music Shop in Guthrie Oklahoma.
‘JB’ as he is known to his friends, is a guitar players guitar player. James Burton
has played with the likes of John Denver, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Emmylou
Harris, Elvis Presley and just about everyone in between. He has his own fan club
and you can buy a copy of his beloved Fender Telecaster from the Fender Custom
Shop. Although I had known and worked with JB for several years, I really got to
know him when we worked on Hoyt Axton’s projects where you had to stay at
Hoyt’s house. James Burton lives with a guitar in his hands. At least, he did while
we stayed at the Axton residence. JB is just as ‘Down Home’ as you can imagine.
JB has his own website:
This Bob Bushnell is an electronic engineer who was a recording console builder
and was well known in the industry. I worked as a recording engineer on many of
his consoles. ABC Records and Sunset Sound just to name a couple. Some of his
consoles had a pin matrix for assigning certain functions (I used to refer to them as
‘mumbly pegs’). When I got to know Bob, I asked him about those pin matrices and
he replied: “Because that area of the console is unbalanced.”
Lynn Carey & Mama Lion
, consisted of: Lynn Carey (lead vocals), Neil Merryweather
(bass, vocals), Rick Gaxiola (guitar),
James Newton Howard
Alan Hurtz (guitar) and Coffi Hall (drums, percussion)
At the onset of my career, I worked for an artist management company called
Broomstick Management and the band, Mama Lyon, was one of the acts they
managed. Basically, I recorded demo songs for the various artists that were signed
to Broomstick Management. During the in-between times, I would assemble and
check out the PA and band equipment for those that were going on tour. It was
during one of these times that I was assigned to mix the live sound for Mama
Lyon's first tour. Lynn Carey (actor McDonald Carey's daughter) and Neil
Merryweather were involved in a romantic relationship at the time which sometimes
complicated things. Rick Gaxiola and
James Newton Howard
(then a teenager)
had never been on tour so, in the beginning, it was like herding baby ducks. Coffi
Hall (a great drummer who certainly had the training) was perhaps the most
experienced musician at the time. The beginning of the tour was a PITA as the
band played mostly clubs and small venues in order to ‘tighten up.’ The band was
scheduled for a tour in Europe which, we were all looking forward to but about half
of the tour got canceled so things were re-shuffled and I got sent back to Los
Angeles from New York city (on Christmas Eve).
I recorded and mixed the score for the movie “A Country Mile” at Haji Sound and
Larrabee Sound Studios. The opening and end credits music was recorded by Dan
Wallin at The Burbank Studios (TBS).
David Carradine was exactly like the character he played in the TV series “Kung
Fu” right down to the wardrobe he wore during the time I worked with him. After I
got to know him well enough, I asked him about the resemblance. He said: “The
character was a perfect fit. I didn’t have to change anything. All I had to do was
learn the script for each episode.” There is a website in memorandum:
I met Johnny Cash at Beverly Garland’s
Howard Johnson Hotel
in Hollywood (We
called it HoJo’s). I was there to meet with Hoyt Axton regarding an album project
and Johnny Cash showed up for the same. Cash was a big man and had an
imposing posture. However, he was a kind and gentle soul. I was looking forward to
working with him and didn’t get the chance because the record project was never
Here is the website devoted to Johnny Cash:
I only met Ray Charles once at Haji Sound and never worked with him.
Ray’s recording engineer, Bob Gratz, used to stop by the studio for a visit.
Haji Sound was charged with keeping the favorite Steinway grand piano originally
located at the CBS Studios in L.A. One day, Bob Gratz brought Ray in so that he
could visit and play the piano. We were all: “OMG, it’s Ray Charles.” Bob sat Ray
down at the piano and Ray Charles delighted himself while he entertained us all.
I worked with Joe Cocker on the tour after “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” I was
actually one of the crew and live sound mixer for the band “Redbone” who was the
opening act for Joe Cocker. I was given the task of mixing the entire show for both
acts which I happily did. In those days there was no stage monitor mixer. The stage
monitor mix was sent as a sub-mix from the house mixer. One remarkable thing
was that the tour itself consisted of 30 shows in 40 days. A schedule that nearly
killed everyone involved because the tour encompassed the Eastern U.S.A. and
Canada which meant that everything had to go through Customs both entering and
leaving the country. Anyone who has had the pleasure of going through Customs
will understand. And, we carried 80 thousand pounds of gear that had to be
Though no longer with us, here is a website about him:
Dave was a staff engineer at Haji Sound. He had previously worked at Radio
Recorders and was a guitarist for Gary Lewis and the Playboys. Dave recorded
many live concerts and record albums while at Haji Sound. My nickname for Dave
was Dave Cause-hell. His nickname for me was “Leroy” after the song “Leroy
Brown” (another story).
Steve Cropper was the lead guitarist for the MG’s (Booker T. & the MG’s), the Mar-
Keys and more including The Blues Brothers. He was also part of the Motown
sound. Steve Cropper has played on more recording sessions and toured with
more famous people than you or I have fingers and toes to count with. My first
encounter with “Cropper” was on a record project for Booker T. Jones that never
got released. Steve Cropper has his own website :
Bob De Avila
Bob was a maintenance engineer at Columbia Records Studios in Los Angeles, CA
and was a victim of the studio closures in 1972. Bob was instrumental in the
building of the first Haji Sound mobile recording truck which is where I met him. His
brother, Richard, built the interior for that recording truck (Haji 1). Bob later went to
work at ABC Records and worked under Jerry Feree. I was later hired to help
install studios C and D at ABC so, I guess, we came full circle.
I was a staff engineer at Sunset Sound when Neil Diamond booked Studio 1 for a
month and I was assigned to the session. Bill Schnee was booked as the mixer but
couldn't make it so the mixing job was given to Rick Ruggieri. Rick didn’t like the
monitor speakers in Studio 1 so, he brought in a custom built pair of ‘Big Reds.’
After considerable re-working of the control room to accommodate the Big Red
speakers, things settled down and we got to work. Neil insisted that a cassette be
kept in record to capture everything that happened in the studio so, at the end of
the day, I would give Neil a bunch of cassette tapes and he would always say: “Put
them in the bag.” The ‘Bag’ was a rumpled paper shopping bag which he always
carried under his arm when he would show up for the day. I finally asked him why
he carried around a rumpled shopping bag instead of a briefcase and he answered:
“I’m from New York City where it is not advisable to carry a briefcase in public.
However, almost no one will steal an old rumpled shopping bag.” The recording
session turned out to be
“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”
Neil is still at it:
Donald “Duck” Dunn
Donald “Duck” Dunn was the studio bassist for Stax Records, the MG’s (Booker T.
& the MG’s), the Mar-Keys and more, including the Blues Brothers. He was an
original part of the Motown sound. I first worked with Duck (I have no idea where
the nickname came from) on a session with Booker T. Jones and no wonder where
the “Motown sound” came from.
More information is available here:
I met Duane Eddy at Hoyt Axtons’ house on the North end of Lake Tahoe. Duane
lived near lake Tahoe on the Nevada side of the Lake at the time. On one particular
record project, at Hoyt’s studio, I had both Duane Eddy and James Burton in the
control room, playing their guitars at the same time. At one point, I turned to them
and said: “I must be in Heaven because I’m recording two legendary guitarists at
the same time.” JB noted that it is rare for two musicians to be overdubbing at the
same time but that he wasn’t quite ready for Heaven yet. Duane Eddy smiled and
nodded in agreement.
Chris was probably best known as the bass player for The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Chris played played on many record albums and ultimately played bass for Willie
Nelson. Chris and I had been friends for so long that I forget how we met. It was at
Chris’s house that I met Dusty Baker who, at the time, played Left Field for the Los
I first met Jerry when I was introduced to Bill Putnam. Jerry went on to be the Chief
Engineer for ABC Records where I was hired, part time, (at the urging of Bob De
Avila, I think) to help with the installation of studios C and D. Jerry Ferree, co-
authored a book, with Bob Bushnell, about the days with Bill Putnam called: “From
Downbeat To Vinyl.”
John was one of the owners of Haji Sound. He was formerly a recording engineer
for Columbia Records in Los Angeles, CA and recorded many albums there. John
also spent some time at Wally Heiders’ Hide St. Studios in San Francisco, CA
where he recorded Santana, It’s A Beautiful Day and others. At Haji, John mainly
took care of the business end of things although he stayed active as a recording
engineer as well.
recorded the album “
Lasso From El Paso
” at Haji Sound
Recording while I was the Chief Engineer. The mixers on the album were Alex
Kazanegras and David Costell. I assisted when needed. The project was
memorable because of the almost daily parade of stars that performed on the
record (check the credits). The album was supposed to be named “Asshole From
El Paso” because of Kinky’s live performance of the song of the same name that
he wanted as the title track. However, the proposed song was a performance of
“Okie From Muskogee” with lyrics by Kinky that were ‘R’ rated. Buck Owens, who
owned the song, nixed Kinky’s version and wouldn’t allow it to be released. Hence
the new title.
Lowell George was best known as the lead guitarist and lead singer for the band
” I worked with Lowell on his solo album “Thanks, I’ll Eat It Here” at
Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA. I was one of about a half dozen
recording engineers who worked on that record. My contribution consisted mainly
of guitar and vocal overdubs plus a few rough mixes. Lowell could play any kind of
guitar in front of anyone. Singing was another matter. For lead vocals, Lowell had
to have all of the studio lights turned off. I was basically communicating with a
voice in the darkness on the other side of the control room window. For one song,
he composed the lyrics on the fly and to do this, I set him up in the control room
with a microphone so that he could operate the equipment by himself while I played
pinball in the lounge. I asked him what he did live and he replied: “I don’t have time
to think about it. I’ve tried that approach in the studio but it doesn’t seem to work.”
I knew Jay as a session musican and what a guitar player! I was working at Sunset
Sound on the Doobie Bros. “Minute By Minute” album with the engineer Donn
Landee. Jay Graydon was called in by Ted Templeman (the producer) to add some
licks to the end of the song “How Do The Fools Survive.” We played the song for
Jay and he turned to Ted and asked “What would you like here?” Ted, holding a
glass of wine, quipped: “Play everything that you ever learned.” Well, I believe he
did, and proceeded to blow all of us away. The song had to be cut down to make it
fit the (vinyl) record.
I grimaced at every edit that Donn made because it was
chopping up Jay’s incredible
In fact, I questioned a few of them to the
point that Jay was called in for a listen. After hearing the edits, Jay said of one of
them: “Musically, it works, but you can’t play the lick because it’s at both ends of a
guitar neck.” His website:
Wally Heider was recording live performances long before multi-track tape
machines were available. Wally told me personally that he used to strap a
professional series AMPEX two track recorder to his back and climb stairs with it. I
met Wally and those who worked for him because of my affiliation with Haji Sound
Recording. We were in the same business, in the same town, just a few blocks
from each other. Wally Heider Recording had studios in Hollywood and San
Francisco. When Heider’s remote trucks were booked, we’d get the referral and
vice-versa. Wally drove a Cadillac and the license plates read: “JAMF.” (You figure
I first met Deane when he was the VP of Engineering at Quad Eight Electronics in
North Hollywood, CA. At that time,
was just a dream. When
Dean Jensen spoke, you stopped what you were doing and listened. Some years
later, I referred a high performance operational amplifier to Dean and he used it in
several of his circuit designs. I was very proud of myself.
While in New York City with the band Mama Lion,
I was asked to set up the PA for
Billy Joel who was also signed with Broomstick Management at the time.
I worked with the band for three or four nights which was enough time to get to
know everyone. The drummer (Reese Clark) and I hit it off and became lasting
friends. I also did some assisting on Billy Joel’s album “Cold Spring Harbor” at the
Record Plant in LA but it wasn’t enough to warrant any album credits.
Billy Joel is also still at it:
Booker T Jones
Best known for the band “Booker T. & the MG’s”,
is still performing.
I was told by Booker T. that the band was formed while he was in high school and
he wrote the song “Green Onions” when he was 17.
I finished and mixed an album for Booker T. that was never released by Epic
Records. Five of the songs had been recorded at Wally Heider Studios in San
Francisco, CA. Some of the songs on the album were covers of already released
hits. One of those songs which, I had the pleasure of recording, was the song
“Higher and Higher” originally sung by Jackie Wilson. I didn’t think that anyone
could come close to the original performance. However, from the moment we first
played back the basic tracks, we knew it was a smash hit. Everyone that worked on
the song or even heard a playback said that it was an obvious hit. Nonetheless,
Epic Records shelved the record and that was it.
A year later, Rita Coolidge (who had sung background vocals on Booker T.’s
version) came to Booker T. and asked if he would arrange that same song for her
and the result was a platinum single that was released by A&M Records.
Carol Kaye was one of the bassists that played with the Wrecking Crew. Carol
played on so many sessions that she just might be
the most recorded bassist in
history. She certainly destroyed the “Glass Ceiling,” working as a studio musician at
a time when there were almost no women
in the recording studio. The only
exceptions were members of an orchestra. Carol is a terrific musician and a great
person as well. And, she has a website:
Alex was another recording engineer out of the Columbia Records fold and was the
other owner of Haji Sound. I worked extensively with Alex and, as such, he became
my mentor, teaching me everything that he had learned along the way and
introduced me to methods and people that I wouldn’t have otherwise known. Alex
was born in Greece, grew up in Turkey, and migrated to the US when he was a
teenager. As a result, Alex approached some things differently. One day, I asked
Alex what language he he spoke when he thought about things and he replied:
Keltner is an ‘A list’ drummer. He has played on an endless number of recording
sessions and toured with just about everyone who is anyone. For those who like to
read the credits listed on record jackets, Jim Keltner should be a very familiar name
because he has practically played with them all. I’ve worked with Keltner so many
times that I have lost track. Besides being a great drummer, Jim Keltner is an all
around great guy.
The year was 1986 and Robert Budd and myself were putting the finishing touches
on the studios for Cannon Films. In the Construction Trade, it’s known as a ‘Punch
List.’ One of the studios was a stereo production and mixing suite known as Video
Sweetening. Our dilemma with that studio was the fact that whatever monitor
speaker setup we tried simply didn’t work well. We tried everything that we could
think of including contacting all of the available equipment vendors and invited
them to bring in their best. I was about to call in a specialist that I knew when I got
a call from Keith and he explained that he custom built monitors, could solve our
problem and offered to show me some of his work. I was curious, checked out what
he had built, was very impressed and handed him the task. We never looked back
because that room became well known for how good it sounded. The rest is history,
as they say, because Keith went on to have a very successful career in
I don’t know where to start because, Larry played for so many artists. Larry, in
addition to being a ‘First Call’ player, was also a member of the Wrecking Crew
where the trio was often known as: “Osbourne, Knechtel, Blane”
Although Larry was called mostly for his expertise on keyboards, he was also
proficient at Guitar, Bass and Harmonica.
Not as well known as many of the ‘A-List’ players, Neil was one of my favorite
bassists. Mainly because he was one of the very few electric bassists I worked
with, that didn’t need a limiter when recording. Electric Bass guitars usually
produce much more energy (voltage) from the strings that play the low notes than
from the strings that play the higher notes. So, a limiter is often used during
recording to even things out. In the beginning, Neil noticed that I always had a
limiter plugged into his recording chain and when I told him why, he learned to play
the instrument so that a limiter wasn’t needed. I often had Neil play in the control
room, next to me, because he could read an entire orchestral chart page at a
glance while playing his part. Thus, he could cue me when certain instruments
were about to play and I could concentrate more on the recording process.
Jerry Lee Lewis
Hoyt Axton, James Burton and I had just finished recording with Willie Nelson, at
his studio in Texas, and were leaving when Hoyt decided that we should stop by
and say hi to Jerry Lee since he lived nearby. We sat and chatted with Jerry Lee
Lewis on his back porch for a couple of hours which included some great stories
and homemade lemonade.
I obviously knew Kenny quite well having worked with the band Loggins & Messina
on five albums. Not well known is the fact that Kenny is a record producer as well. I
had the pleasure of working with Kenny Loggins as a producer. After the band
“Loggins & Messina” split up, Kenny launched his solo career and the rest, as they
say, is history.
is still performing which is a testament to the great
singer/song writer that he is.
I worked on her first album “Cheryl Lynn” at Sunset Sound. The project, which
began at Studio 55 in Hollywood, CA and was handed off to me by Tom Knox who
had served as the recording engineer and had become double booked. Cheryl is
an amazing vocalist. When adding her vocal to a recording, I recorded everything,
even her practices. In order to record her, I had to place her about three feet from
the microphone because her voice is so powerful. She sang the song “Daybreak”
live with the band and her performance was so good that we kept it. The 2” master
tapes had begun to shed oxide during the project and had to be transferred before
it was too late. A different brand of tape was chosen for the transfer and we
proceeded to get back to work. As fate would have it, the tapes we had transferred
to began to shed oxide and the master tapes had to be transferred a second time
to, yet again, another brand of tape. Long story short: By the time we mixed the
album to a 1/4” master, the final product was now a fourth generation.
More information about Cheryl Lynn:
I met George while I was working at Sunset Sound Recorders. I was assigned to
work with Lowell George on his solo album, “Thanks, I’ll Eat It Here” and George
Massenburg was one of the many engineers (including myself) who worked on
Lowell’s album. George was already well known in the recording industry for having
developed a great parametric equalizer. Having worked with George, I often
referred to him as ‘The engineers, engineer’ because he had the knowledge and
expertise to see a need, go home and build a prototype, bring it in and, it would
work….first time! I feel privileged to have worked with George and used his
prototype limiter on Lowell George’s vocals which, later became the
Like Kenny Loggins, I met and worked with Jim Messina via the band Loggins &
Messina. Besides singing lead vocals and playing lead guitar, Jim was the
producer as well. Jim Messina is relentless. Driven, by some accounts. When
working on the various record projects for Loggins & Messina, Alex Kazanegras
and I used to ‘tag team’ just to keep up with Jim who could go all night and often
did. Jim Messina is no stranger to a recording studio control room as well. It was at
Gold Star Studios where Jim was working as a recording engineer, that he got
involved with the band Buffalo Springfield. Because Jim was in familiar
surroundings in a recording studio control room, he used to test me relentlessly.
Alex was the 1
engineer and when Jim and Alex would wind up at a dead end, I
would get called in to sort things out. Often, that ‘dead end’ resulted in: “You can’t
get there from here.”
Jim Messina used to assemble his guitars using the parts from several Fender
Telecasters. I learned a lot about setting up an electric guitar from Jim. To the best
of my knowledge,
is still performing.
I had known Willie Nelson and his band before I worked with him because a good
friend of mine (Chris Ethridge) played bass for Willie Nelson for some time. I got
my chance to work with him when Hoyt Axton, James Burton & myself flew to
Texas to do some recording at Willie Nelson’s studio located on the Pedernales
River outside of Austin. Willie had bought a nine hole golf course and turned the
clubhouse into a recording studio. The golf course was operational (although now
private) and those band members who played golf had their own personalized golf
carts. There were several condos adjacent to the studio which housed the band
and crew when there was recording to be done.
Willie Nelson’s website:
We recorded several live performances using the Haji Sound Recording mobile
truck which were used for Ted Nugent’s album “Double Live Gonzo.” Rolling Stone
Magazine defined Ted Nugent’s followers as ‘Heavy Metal sickies.’ A term that I
borrowed because, after each concert, the arena floor had a pile of vomit about
every 100 square feet which, made picking up cables after the show a messy job.
During the tour with Ted Nugent, the Haji truck ran terrible, starving for gas all the
way up the West Coast of the US. The problem turned out to be a clogged fuel filter
which I discovered on the return trip from Seattle to Los Angeles. More about Ted
Leo was an electronics engineer who invented what became known as SMPTE
Time Code. An invention that impacts everyone who watches TV or movies.
Leo was an Australian who always greeted you with “G’day Mate.” He worked in
radio, television and film. I first met Leo in the 1980’s and had the pleasure of
working with him in the 1990’s.
Leo was a good friend and I miss him tremendously.
I worked with Joe several times, with several artists. Joe was a member of the
Osborn, Knechtel, Balne clique as well as Elvis Presley’s TCB band, just to name a
couple. Like so many other studio musicians, Joe played for many, many artists.
David Paich, Marty Paich
I had worked with David Paich, as a studio musician, on several occasions but the
chance to work with David and his dad which, I did on Cheryl Lynn's’ first album,
turned out to be special. A lot of the musicians used for the project came from the
band “Toto” which itself, was a special experience.
extraordinaire who has a gazillion credits. Dean is very
unassuming as a person. As a player, he rips. He played a blues solo on the song
“Sweet China White“ for Lowell George which, blew me away. And, he played the
solo in one take! Most musicians, after hearing a playback, will want to ‘tweak’ their
performance. I don’t think the song made it the final release of “Thanks I’ll Eat It
Here.” Besides that, he played for several artists that I recorded.
I met Bill Putnam because of my association with Haji Sound. Alex Kazanegras and
I were discussing the use of a UREI model 1176 limiter (United Recording
Electronics Industries) when Alex decided that I should meet Bill, who was the
principal of UREI. One would never know that Bill Putnam was one of the giants of
the industry. Bill and I talked ‘shop’ several times afterwards. When I first met Bill,
Jerry Feree was working there and I met him for the first time as well.
Bill was the General Manager of Sunset Sound Recorders and is the one who hired
me. He was the Chief Engineer of Capitol Records studios before Sunset Sound
and was involved in the very first stereo recording at Capitol. Bill also flew the
documentary plane over Hiroshima when the atom bomb was dropped and had lots
of stories about the event which one had to pry out of him.
I recorded Linda as a background singer several times. Each time, working with a
different mixture of singers. Linda was always cheerful. Bubbly in fact, and one of
the best voices ever. I never worked on any of her solo albums. Linda was
supposed to sing a duet with Hoyt Axton on one of his album projects but the end
product never came to fruition because when the record company, that she was
signed to heard the performance, they judged it to be too close to a solo
performance which was disallowed under the provisions of her contract with them
(Unless the performance was to be released by the record company in question).
Fortunately, we had enough takes that Linda’s voice was used for augmentation
which, was allowed. Lindas’ webpage:
David Lee Roth
A quick aside: I’ve been a fan of Louis Armstrong for as long as I can remember,
even did a bad intimation of him. That said, I was assisting Donn Landee, at
Sunset Sound, on
’s “Van Halen II” album. One evening, David Lee Roth
was sitting in the back of the control room, with his chair leaned up against the
back wall, singing a song that Louis Armstrong had originally recorded while Donn
and I were fidgeting with one thing or another. As he finished the tune, I chimed in
on the “Ooh yeah” and we ended the song, singing in unison. We did a hi-five upon
the completion. David said that he wanted to do a solo album where he would
perform some tributes to a few musical greats. A few years later, he recorded an
EP with a selection of his favorites. His website:
Ed Sanford, John Townsend
Ed Sanford and John Townsend were songwriters that became noticed when their
song “Oriental Gate” was honored by the Songwriters Guild. Kenny Loggins had a
hand in the writing of that song as well. That, and the fact that Loggins & Messina’s
drummer was a good friend of theirs (and mine) is how I came to know them. We
would spend Sunday afternoons in the studio recording demos of their songs using
mostly the band members from Loggins & Messina. Everyone pitched in including
the wives and girlfriends with pot-luck food for the occasions. Those were good
times. After hearing some of the recordings, Alex Kazanegras became a fan. Alex
and John Townsend became great friends and may still be working together.
Lew was instrumental in getting the console up and running at Haji Sound because
we took delivery before the console was finished (long story). Audio design was
child’s play to Lew because, as a young engineer fresh from college, he helped
design the proton splitter (known as the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron) at
Brookhaven Labs. Lew became an electronics consultant to our facility and I
learned a lot from him.
Yes, Lee Sklar sports an amazing beard and he’s had it for as long as I’ve known
him. Lee liked to sit on an extension speaker to his bass amp when paying his
electric bass guitar. This made microphone placement difficult. When I recorded an
electric bassist for the first time, I would always use a microphone on their amp, in
addition to taking their instrument direct, and then let the musician decide the
preference. With Lee Sklar, the mic and the direct feed sounded the same. He was
the only bassist that this happened with. The other concern (that I first had) with
Lee sitting on his speaker, was leakage, because the speaker was in the room, not
behind a sound baffle. That turned out not to be a problem because Lee was aware
of the situation and kept the volume low, as long as he could still ‘feel’ the speaker.
I recorded Lee Sklar several times. You can see Lee’s beard here:
Dennis St John
I knew Dennis as the drummer for Neil Diamond. I first met Dennis at Sunset
Sound when we recorded the album “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Dennis and I
became good friends and kept in touch over the years outside of the studio as well.
Tommy Tedesco, was a guitarist, and session player extraordinaire. He was one of
the Wrecking Crew which, is how I met him in the first place. I recorded Tommy
many more times over the years. I loved working with musicians of Tommy’s caliber
because they had their own sound and style. All the recording engineer had to do
was make sure that the recording was the best possible.
Eddie Van Halen
I first met Eddie Van Halen while I was a staff engineer at Sunset Sound in
Hollywood, CA. I was assigned to assist Donn Landee for a last minute overdub on
Van Halen’s first album. I had yet to meet anyone involved and Donn Landee was
the first to show. After the greeting, Donn informed me that we would be recording
a car horn that Eddie Van Halen was bringing in. Now, it was my turn for the ‘deer
in the headlights’ look as I asked: “A car horn?” Donn confirmed it and said that I
could use any microphone that I thought appropriate. A few minutes later, in walked
Eddie Van Halen, carrying a plywood box that had three car horns mounted in it.
Eddie said that he picked the three because they played a musical triad. While
Eddie went to get a battery and jumper cables, I proceeded to set up for the
recording. I chose a Neumann U47 vacuum tube microphone for the occasion
because that particular mic could handle extreme loudness. We recorded several
takes of the horns (which were very loud) and then after considerable effort, Donn
and I were able to get the idea to work on the intended song. The car horn
recording turned out to be the intro to the song: “Running With The Devil.”
Here is Van Halen’s website:
Pat & Lolly Vegas
Pat & Lolly were the front-men for the band “Redbone.” At the time I worked with
them, the band consisted of four musicians: Pat Vegas (Bass guitar & vocals), Lolly
Vegas (Lead guitar & vocals), Tony Bellamy, a Native American, (Rhythm guitar &
vocal harmonies), Peter “Last Walking Bear” DePoe, a full-blood Cherokee, (Drums
& vocal harmonies). I served as an equipment roadie, road manager and front of
house (FOH) mixer for two of their tours. Pat & Lolly moved from Fresno, CA to Los
Angeles in the 1960’s where they became session musicians and performed on the
‘Sunset Strip.’ Ethnically, they are Latino and Native American and were totally
immersed in the Native American scene. To the point that the band had a rider in
their performance contract that stated; any Native American who attended one of
their concerts in tribal dress, was allowed backstage to meet the band after the
concert. It was often very difficult to get near the dressing rooms after the show.
Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan
The dynamic duo of Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan are best known as “Flo &
Eddie” or “Flo & Eddie and the
.” Perhaps less known is the fact that the two
were also part of “The Mothers of Invention.” Mark and Howard recorded the album
“Illegal, Immoral & Fattening” at Haji Sound Studios. Alex Kazanegras was the
main mixer and I assisted. One night, Mark Volman was hungry and happened to
like the Super Tacos from Jack-In-The-Box. Mark proceeded to order dinner for the
band & crew and had a difficult time convincing the person on the other end of the
phone that he was serious about ordering 40 Super Tacos. In order to get the
person at Jack-In-The-Box to believe he was serious, he had a tape box legend
autographed by every band member and sent it along with the roadie to pick up the
food. It worked.
I had just spent the night in one of the condos at Willie Nelson’s studio located on
the Pedernales River outside of Austin Texas. I walked outside to take in some
Texas morning air when a couple of limousines pulled up, followed by two tractor-
trailer rigs with the CBS logo on the sides. Out of one of the limousines stepped
Barbara Walters, followed by several people. By the time all of the cars and trucks
emptied, the place was overrun. Barbara asked where she could find Willie Nelson,
explaining that she had been chasing him across the country to get an interview for
the program “60 minutes.” After composing myself some (I was standing there in
slippers and PJ’s), I replied that Willie usually showed up around 2 PM. I retreated
to the condo and warned Hoyt and JB, who were equally disheveled, and Willie
showed up that afternoon. As previously mentioned, Barbara Walters and crew
took over the place. Willie explained that the weekend was already booked for a
recording session with Hoyt Axton which, didn’t seem to matter as the camera crew
was already setting up for an interview in Willie’s office. The fact that a recording
session was planned for the evening only added to the script, as far as the director
was concerned so, we adjusted.
In spite of it all, we did get a couple of takes so, all was not lost.
I worked on a few projects with Mentor producing while I was at Sunset Sound. As
such, we became good friends and stayed in touch outside of the workplace.
More about Mentor Williams in my writing about his brother, Paul Williams.
I finished the album “A Little On The Windy Side” at Sunset Sound. About half of
the songs were recorded in Nashville, Tenn. By Gene Eichelburger. The project
was produced by Paul's older brother Mentor Williams. The two, side by side, look
like they are not related at all. Aside from looking like they are not related, Paul is
shorter than average (He used to say something like: “Time to lower the
microphone” when he was getting ready to sing) and Mentor is taller and larger
than average. So, the difference between the two is striking.
Mentor Williams is listed separately because I worked on a few projects that he
Pauls “Official” website:
, on Frank Zappa’fs album “Shiek Yerbuti” at Sunset
Sound. It was an interesting situation because this was Joe Chiccarelli’s first big
name project as a mixer and I was plenty seasoned with credits on eight gold and
two platinum albums. A lot of hand holding was needed in the beginning.
I had never met either Frank or Joe prior to this occasion. Frank Zappa had a
reputation for being demanding and moody. I was expecting a burned out druggie
and Frank Zappa, it turned out, was a regular guy with a dry sense of humor.
Besides being totally against illegal drugs of any kind, his only vices were espresso
coffee (which he used to bring to each session in an air-pot) and Winston
cigarettes, one of which was always lit.
went on to become a very
well known recording engineer.
The Zappa site:
Steve is a Music Composer who is best known for his work with commercials.
However, he has composed the music for some feature films as well. It was Steve
who introduced me to Neil Lampert as well as many other great musicians that I
would have otherwise never known. Steve generally worked at a frenetic pace. So
much so, that communication between the assistant and the mixer often got
confused and the wrong track would be put into record. As a result, I invented the
term ‘Conga Heaven’ because sometimes that wrong track already had something
recorded on it. Steve was always very understanding. One of the hardest things
about working with Steve, for me, was the 7am setup call. Most commercials are
recorded and mixed before lunch whereas, most record projects don’t start until the
late afternoon or evening. It seemed like I was always at the short end of the stick
when it came to working between the two.
Zuck is still writing and composing:
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