Glyn Johns, recording engineer and producer, poses for a photograph as he talks to the Associated Press at his home in London, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Johns is a walking, talking rebuttal to the maxim that if you remember the 1960s, you weren't there. He was there _ overseeing the Rolling Stones' first recording session, arranging the Beatles' rooftop concert, reeling from the first blast of Led Zeppelin _ and he remembers everything. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
- Feb 15, 1942
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Glyn Thomas Johns (born 15 February 1942) is an English musician, recording engineer and record producer.
Johns was born in Epsom, Surrey. He is the father of Ethan Johns, the older brother of Andy Johns, and uncle of Will Johns. Ethan Johns has worked as an engineer and/or producer with artists such as Ryan Adams, Paul McCartney, Laura Marling, Ray LaMontagne and Kings of Leon, while Andy Johns has engineered with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, either on his own or under the tutelage of Eddie Kramer.
Career in recording
Johns produced and/or engineered with such artists as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, the Beatles (Get Back Sessions), The Who, Eagles, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Hallyday, the Band, Eric Clapton, the Clash, Ryan Adams, the Steve Miller Band, Small Faces, Spooky Tooth, the Easybeats, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Blue Öyster Cult, Emmylou Harris, Midnight Oil, New Model Army, Belly, Joe Satriani, Ronnie Lane, Rod Stewart with Faces, John Hiatt, Joan Armatrading, Buckacre, Gallagher and Lyle, Georgie Fame, Family, Helen Watson, Fairport Convention, Humble Pie, and many others.
In 1969, Led Zeppelin paid tribute to Johns by including a photo of actress Glynis Johns on the cover of Led Zeppelin II. The cover was based on a World War I era photo. The Beatles referred to Johns as “Glynis” several times during the Get Back sessions.
In the 1960s, while associated with the UK rock band The Presidents, Johns began working as a recording studio engineer at IBC Studios in Portland Place, London and was able to take the band in during weekends and try his skills at production and recording. The Presidents was his first true production work and in 1969, Johns was called upon to rescue the troublesome Get Back sessions for The Beatles. Johns compiled several versions of the album, which were all rejected by the band, before the project was eventually turned over to producer Phil Spector. Spector’s version became the released album, which was retitled Let It Be which Johns called “a syrupy load of bullshit“.
In 1971, he recorded and mixed The Who’s Who’s Next. His influence on Faces’ 1971 album A Nod Is as Good as a Wink… to a Blind Horse, which he co-produced with the band, can be gauged from the message that follows the credits: “Thank you Glyn, you made all the difference.” Johns produced the first two albums by the Eagles. Though they were successful, the band, especially Glenn Frey, clashed with Johns over the direction of their sound. After recording two songs for their third album (including their first No. 1 single “Best of My Love”), they dismissed Johns and returned to California to finish the album. Johns’ output slowed in the mid 1980s, although he undertook work with Midnight Oil, Nanci Griffith, and Belly.
Johns also produced the 1977 Eric Clapton album Slowhand, including the popular hit “Wonderful Tonight”, written by Clapton. […]
Approach to recording
Johns developed a unique approach to the recording of drums, sometimes referred to as the “Glyn Johns Method”, that rarely employs more than two or three microphones, and which usually keeps one mike hoisted several feet overhead to achieve natural perspective of the whole kit, as well as one off to the side (not far from the floor tom tom), and one near to the bass drum. The key to the method is to keep both the overhead mike and the side-mike equidistant from (and pointed at) the centre of the snare, aimed in such a way of forming a triangular pattern (with the three corners being the snare, the side-mike, and the overhead mic). Johns prefers not to close-mike the individual drums, except occasionally the snare drum. […]
Glyn Johns participated to the initial sessions for Wings’ album, Red Rose Speedway, recorded in 1972; but left after a few weeks. Among the reasons, the fact that everyone in the studio heavily smoke pot, or simply that Paul in reality didn’t want to be bothered with a producer.
One evening they (Seiwell and Laine – author’s note) said, “We’re not happy with you as a producer. You’re not taking any interest in what we are doing”. I said, “If you think that everything you do is a gem of marvelous music, you’re wrong. And if you want to sit and play shit and get stoned for a few hours […] don’t expect me to record everything you’re doing, because frankly it’s a waste of tape and it’s a waste of my energy.Glyn Johns, in FAB, an Intimate Life of Paul McCartney
He and Paul didn’t hit it off at all. Paul always likes to be his own producer anyway, but at least if he’s going to bring one in they’ve got to be able to see Paul’s point of view.Denny Laine, in Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney
The day after I finished with The Eagles, I went straight in with Paul McCartney and Wings to cut the Red Rose Speedway album, which I quit in a puff of steam after a couple of weeks, and then went straight on to work with Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood on the soundtrack to the movie Mahoney’s Estate, with our friend, the actor and director Alexis Kanner.Glyn Johns, in SOUND MAN, 2014
Last updated on November 25, 2018
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