Rock n’ Roll Read: Glyn Johns ‘Sound Man’
Take a look at your records, tapes and cds. His name appears on the credits of some of the greatest albums of all-time: Glyn Johns. Sound Man is the story of 50+ years in the music business on the other side of the studio glass.
The music producer and recording engineer offers behind-the-scene glimpses of his studio work with such artists as The Who, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, the Clash, Howlin’ Wolf, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, John Hiatt, Emmylou Harris, the Faces, Linda Ronstadt, Humble Pie, The Band, Ryan Adams and many others.
Glyn Johns has recorded the best in music and many of his stories haven’t been told until now.
“My objective was not kiss and tell, but an observation of the industry over the last 50 years, how it has developed, and about the characters I’ve met,” he says. “I just love making records, and that’s never going to change. I can’t wait to get back in.”
Glyn Johns doesn’t have much interest in getting bogged down over specifics of capturing sound. If you’re a recording nerd and get off on the technical aspects of microphone placement, sound reinforcement, etc. there’s enough in Sound Man to learn a few tricks of his trade.
Johns generously credits the musicians and bands he’s worked with as being the main reason the classic recordings continue to sound as good as they do.
Glenn Frey describes working with Johns in the Eagles book, Take It To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles; “He was a complete tyrant. We were a really young group and he just lorded it over us. And he had worked with all the heavies, so we couldn’t really argue.”
Jimmy Page reportedly replaced Johns as the band’s engineer after Led Zeppelin’s first album in 1969 because he didn’t want any one particular engineer to be held responsible for the group’s trademark sound. That said, if you study the albums Glyn Johns has produced or engineered you begin to recognize his signature approach to the recording studio; clean and massive, sounding ‘live’ with lots of breathing room. It’s something Johns has achieved usually with few microphones and very little studio hardware or trickery.
Sound Man is a must read if you wonder how classic albums were made. Regular listeners of 100.3 The Q! hear Glyn Johns work on a daily basis and his work stands the test of time.