Glyn Johns: Sound Man

I read this book not knowing what to expect but I did know of Glyn Johns… so many of my albums had his name on it…A name that is known throughout the music industry as a great recording engineer, producer, and mixer. Glyn has worked with huge rock groups such as The Rolling Stones, Beatles, Who, Small Faces, Led Zeppelin, The Band and more.

Glyn is a no-nonsense guy and unlike most of the autobiographies of musicians in that era, he never did drugs and always did his job well. Glyn wanted to be a singer and did make a few records, he covered Rolling Stones Lady Jane,  but he stuck with engineering and gradually became a producer.

Back when Glyn started in the early sixties engineers did not graduate to producing. It was very much a British class system in the music industry. He became the first freelance engineer in the industry because of the clients he attracted. He was one of the first to record the Stones and he began a relationship with them that lasted for years. He knew the Stones because he was really good friends with Ian Stewart and even shared a flat with him.

The Beatles called him to engineer Let It Be and he also helped engineer some of Abbey Road. He worked on Led Zeppelin’s first album. He produced Steve Miller’s first albums and also the first couple of Eagles albums.

This book will be very interesting to classic rock fans. Many anecdotes about the Stones, Beatles, Who and others. Glyn minces no words and has a reputation for saying what is on his mind. He isn’t too technical about recording in the book, he keeps it at a fast enjoyable pace.

He worked on some of the most classic albums ever. The Stones 60’s albums and the classic stretch of albums the Stones released until Black and Blue. He worked on Who’s Next, Quadrophenia, Led Zeppelin, A Nod Is As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse, Who Are You, Slowhand, just to name a few.

One interesting thing that happened in 1969. Glyn met Bob Dylan and Dylan told Johns that he would like to make an album with the Beatles and Stones. Glyn went back to England very excited and told Keith Richards and George Harrison and they were all for it. Ringo, Charlie, and Bill said they would do it. John didn’t say no but Mick and Paul said absolutely not…leaves you to wonder what it would have sounded like…

At the bottom of the page, I copied his discography from Wikipedia…it is incredible.

Excerpt from Sound Man about the Stones.

While Keith, Charlie, and Bill drove the band rhythmically, Mick’s energy and intellect drove everything else. I was constantly amazed by his skill as a songwriter and by the extraordinary energy he managed to summon for his vocal performances in the studio.
Both Mick and Keith would take an active part in the mixing process and drove me nuts making me mix a track for hours when I felt I had got it in the first couple of passes. We certainly did not always agree. I guess it would have been even more boring if we had. There were a couple of occasions when finally putting the album together I would play back earlier mixes that I had done on my own, to compare with the one they had chosen after hours of farting around, and in the cold light of day they would agree that mine were better. Equally, there were many occasions when they insisted on me changing a mix quite drastically from the way I heard it, with great effect.
Working with the Stones for all those years certainly had some amazing moments and I am proud to have been associated with them during a period of time when their music was so influential. However, Charlie summed it up perfectly when asked in a recent interview his experience of being in the band for fifty years. He replied, “Ten years of working and forty years of hanging around.”

Excerpt about The Beatles Let It Be

I had been retained originally as an engineer and was quite happy with that, even when I realized that George Martin was not producing. He did come to Twickenham a couple of times to check us out. He had arranged for the gear to be loaned for the recording at Savile Row and turned up on the day we did the filming on the roof, but had nothing to do with the production of the music. At the outset I was quite embarrassed when I realized he was not going to be involved. A couple of days into the project I asked Paul where George Martin was, only to be told that they had decided not to use him. By the time we moved to Savile Row, George, realizing I was in an awkward position, was kind enough to take me to lunch in order to put my mind at rest, saying I was doing a great job, everything was fine, and I was not stepping on his toes in any way. What a gentleman he is.
Having delivered the mixed master of my version of Let It Be, I approached each member of the band separately, asking if I could have a production credit on the album when it was released. I made it quite clear that I was only asking for that and not a royalty. Paul, George, and Ringo had no objection to my request but John was suspicious and could not understand why I was not asking for a royalty. I explained that I felt, because of their stature, the sales of the album would not be affected by my involvement one way or another, so a credit would be a fair settlement for what I had done, as by association it could only be positive for my career in the future. I never got an answer from John.
As it turned out, none of this mattered, as in the end, after the group broke up, John gave the tapes to Phil Spector, who puked all over them, turning the album into the most syrupy load of bullshit I have ever heard. My master tape, perhaps quite rightly, ended up on a shelf in the tape store at EMI. At least my version of the single of “Get Back”/“Don’t Let Me Down” had been released in April 1969.

Below is Glyn’s discography…what a body of work.

Artist Year Album Producer Engineer Mixing
Georgie Fame 1964 Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1965 December’s Children co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
The Pretty Things 1965 Get the Picture? co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1965 Out of Our Heads co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
The Rolling Stones 1966 Aftermath co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
The Rolling Stones 1966 Got Live if You Want It! Yes Yes
Chris Farlowe 1966 The Art of Chris Farlowe Yes Yes
The Small Faces 1966 Small Faces (Decca) Yes Yes
Chris Farlowe 1966 14 Things to Think About Yes Yes
Twice as Much 1966 Own Up Yes Yes
The Small Faces 1967 From the Beginning Yes Yes
Rolling Stones 1967 Between the Buttons Yes Yes
The Small Faces 1967 Small Faces (Immediate) Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1967 Flowers co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
The Rolling Stones 1967 Their Satanic Majesties Request Yes Yes
Johnny Hallyday 1967 San Francisco (EP) Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1968 Beggars Banquet Yes Yes
The Steve Miller Band 1968 Children of the Future Yes Yes Yes
Twice as Much 1968 That’s All Yes
The Pentangle 1968 The Pentangle Yes Yes
The Move 1968 Something Else from the Move Yes Yes
Spooky Tooth 1968 It’s All About Yes Yes
The Small Faces 1968 Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake Yes Yes
The Steve Miller Band 1968 Sailor Yes Yes Yes
Gerry Temple 1968 Burn Up! Yes
Procol Harum 1968 Shine on Brightly Yes Yes
The Move 1968 The Move Yes Yes
Easybeats 1968 Vigil Yes Yes
Traffic 1968 Traffic Yes Yes
Billy Nichols 1968 Would You Believe Yes Yes
The Steve Miller Band 1969 Brave New World Yes Yes Yes
Family 1969 Family Entertainment Yes Yes Yes
The End 1969 Introspection Yes Yes
The Beatles 1969 Abbey Road Yes
Joe Cocker 1969 Joe Cocker! Yes Yes
Johnny Hallyday 1969 Johnny Hallyday Yes Yes Yes
Led Zeppelin 1969 Led Zeppelin Yes
The Rolling Stones 1969 Let it Bleed Yes Yes
The Steve Miller Band 1969 Your Saving Grace Yes Yes Yes
Lambert and Nuttycombe 1970 At Home Yes Yes
Bob Dylan 1970 Self Portrait co-eng.Yes
The Rolling Stones 1970 Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! Yes Yes Yes
Humble Pie 1970 Humble Pie Yes Yes Yes
Philamore Lincoln 1970 The North Wind Blew South Yes
Billy Preston 1970 That’s the Way God Planned It Yes Yes
Leon Russell 1970 Leon Russell Yes Yes
The Beatles 1970 Let it Be Yes
Joe Cocker 1970 Mad Dogs & Englishmen Yes Yes
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends 1970 On Tour with Eric Clapton Yes
The Move 1970 Shazam Yes Yes
The Band 1970 Stage Fright co-eng.Yes
Spooky Tooth 1970 The Last Puff Yes Yes
McGuinness Flint 1970 McGuinness Flint Yes Yes Yes
The Faces 1971 A Nod Is As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse Yes Yes Yes
Boz Scaggs 1971 Boz Scaggs & Band Yes Yes Yes
Ben Sidran 1971 Feel Your Groove Yes Yes
McGuinness Flint 1971 Happy Birthday, Ruthie Baby Yes Yes Yes
Jesse Ed Davis 1971 ¡Jesse Davis! Yes Yes Yes
Leon Russell 1971 Leon Russell and the Shelter People Yes Yes
Boz Scaggs 1971 Moments Yes Yes Yes
Rita Coolidge 1971 Nice Feelin’ Yes
Howlin’ Wolf 1971 The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions Yes
Humble Pie 1971 Rock On Yes Yes Yes
Graham Nash 1971 Songs for Beginners Yes
The Rolling Stones 1971 Sticky Fingers co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
Spooky Tooth 1971 Tobacco Road Yes Yes
The Who 1971 Who’s Next co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
Eagles 1972 Eagles Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1972 Exile on Main St. co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
Rita Coolidge 1972 The Lady’s Not for Sale Yes Yes Yes
Neil Young 1972 Harvest co-eng.Yes
Nicky Hopkins, Ry Cooder, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts 1972 Jamming with Edward Yes Yes Yes
Chris Jagger 1973 Chris Jagger Yes
Eagles 1973 Desperado Yes Yes Yes
Eric Clapton 1973 Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert Yes
The Faces 1973 Ooh La La Yes Yes Yes
The Who 1973 Quadrophenia co-prod.Yes co-eng.Yes
Ric Grech 1973 The Last Five Years Yes Yes Yes
Paul McCartney and Wings 1973 Red Rose Speedway co-eng.Yes
Gallagher & Lyle 1973 Seeds Yes Yes Yes
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils 1973 The Ozark Mountain Daredevils co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
Gallagher & Lyle 1973 Willie and the Lapdog Yes Yes Yes
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils 1974 It’ll Shine When It Shines co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1974 It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Yes
Eagles 1974 On the Border co-prod.Yes co-eng.Yes
Gallagher & Lyle 1974 The Last Cowboy Yes Yes Yes
Georgie Fame 1974 Georgie Fame Yes Yes Yes
Fairport Convention 1975 Rising for the Moon Yes Yes Yes
The Who 1975 The Who by Numbers Yes Yes Yes
Andy Fairweather Low 1976 Be Bop ‘n’ Holla Yes Yes Yes
Fools Gold 1976 Fools Gold Yes Yes Yes
Joan Armatrading 1976 Joan Armatrading Yes Yes Yes
Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane 1976 Mahoney’s Last Stand Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1976 Black and Blue co-eng.Yes
Buckacre 1976 Moring Comes Yes Yes Yes
The Bernie Leadon—Michael Georgiades Band 1977 Natural Progressions Yes Yes Yes
Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane 1977 Rough Mix Yes Yes Yes
Joan Armatrading 1977 Show Some Emotion Yes Yes Yes
Eric Clapton 1977 Slowhand Yes Yes Yes
Eric Clapton 1977 Backless Yes Yes Yes
Craig Nuttycombe 1977 It’s Just a Lifetime Yes Yes Yes
Joan Armatrading 1978 To the Limit Yes Yes Yes
Paul Kennerly and various Artists 1978 White Mansions Yes Yes Yes
The Who 1978 Who Are You co-prodYes co-eng.Yes Yes
Mark Benno 1979 Lost in Austin Yes Yes Yes
Joan Armatrading 1979 Steppin’ Out Yes Yes Yes
Live Wire (band) 1979 Pick it UP Yes
Lazy Racer 1980 Formula II Yes Yes Yes
Tim Renwick 1980 Tim Renwick Yes Yes Yes
Paul Kennerly 1980 Legend of Jessie James Yes Yes Yes
Danny Joe Brown 1981 Danny Joe Brown and the Danny Joe Brown Band Yes Yes Yes
Jools Holland 1981 Jools Holland and His Millionaires Yes Yes Yes
Midnight Oil 1981 Place Without a Postcard Yes Yes Yes
Nine Below Zero 1981 Don’t Point Your Finger Yes Yes Yes
Chris de Burgh 1981 Best Moves Yes Yes Yes
The Clash 1982 Combat Rock Yes
The Who 1982 It’s Hard Yes Yes Yes
Local Boys 1983 Moments of Madness Yes Yes Yes
Various artists 1984 ARMS Concert Yes Yes Yes
Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Albert Lee, 1984 No Introduction Necessary Yes
Téléphone 1984 Un Autre Monde Yes Yes Yes
Bob Dylan 1984 Real Live Yes Yes Yes
Immaculate Fools 1985 Hearts of Fortune Yes
Téléphone 1986 Le Live Yes Yes Yes
Roaring Boys 1986 Roaring Boys Yes Yes Yes
The Big Dish 1986 Swimmer Yes Yes Yes
New Model Army 1986 The Ghost of Cain Yes Yes Yes
Joolz 1987 Hex Yes
Spooky Tooth 1987 Spooky Tooth Yes Yes
Helen Watson 1987 Blue Slipper Yes Yes
Labi Siffre 1987 (Something Inside) So Strong Yes Yes Yes
John Hiatt 1988 Slow Turning Yes Yes
Nancy Griffith 1989 Storms Yes Yes
Green on Red 1989 This Time Around (Green on Red album) Yes Yes
John Hiatt 1990 Stolen Moments Yes Yes
Summerhill 1990 West of Here Yes
Del Shannon 1991 The Liberty Years Yes
Energy Orchard 1992 Stop the Machine Yes Yes
Ethan Johns 1992 Independent Years Yes Yes
David Crosby 1993 Thousand Roads Yes Yes Yes
Crosby, Stills, & Nash 1994 After the Storm Yes Yes Yes
The Subdudes 1994 Annunciation Yes Yes Yes
Jackopierce 1995 Bringing on the Weather Yes
Bruce Cockburn 1994 Dart to the Heart Yes
Joe Satriani 1995 Joe Satriani Yes Yes
The Beatles 1996 Anthology 3 co-eng.Yes
Eric Clapton 1996 Crossroads 2: Live in the Seventies Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones and various artists 1996 The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus Yes Yes
Warm Jets 1997 Future Signs Yes Yes
Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings 1998 Struttin’ Our Stuff Yes
Linda Ronstadt 1998 We Ran Yes Yes
Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings 1999 Anyway the Wind Blows Yes
Emmylou Harris & Linda Ronstadt 1999 Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions Yes Yes Yes
Various artists 1999 Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons Yes Yes Yes
John Hiatt and various artists 20o2 Disney’s The Country Bears musical dir.
Bruce Cockburn 2005 Speechless Yes
Andy Fairweather Low 2006 Sweet Soulful Music Yes Yes Yes
The Clash 2008 Live at Shea Stadium Yes
Ian McLagan & the Bump Band 2008 Never Say Never Yes+ mastering
Ryan Adams 2011 Ashes & Fire Yes Yes Yes
Ben Waters 2011 Boogie 4 Stu: A Tribute to Ian Stewart Yes
The Rolling Stones 2012 Charlie is My Darling: Ireland 1965 Yes
The Staves 2012 Dead & Born & Grown Up & Live co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 2012 GRRR! Yes
Band of Horses 2012 Mirage Rock Yes Yes Yes
Ethan Johns 2012 If Not Now Then When? Yes
Aaron Neville 2013 My True Story Yes
Patty Griffin 2013 Silver Bell Yes
Stephen Stills 2013 Carry On co-prod.Yes co-eng.Yes co-mixYes
Bob Dylan 2013 Another Self Portrait (1969-1971: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10) co-eng.Yes
Benmont Tench 2014 You Should Be So Lucky Yes Yes Yes
Ian McLagan & the Bump Band 2014 United States Yes
Joe Satriani 2014 The Complete Studio Recordings Yes Yes
Bruce Cockburn 2014 Rumours of Glory (True North) Yes
David Bowie 2014 Nothing Has Changed co-eng.Yes
The Small Faces 2014 Here Come the Nice: The Immediate Years 1967-1969 Yes
The Small Faces 20.. Greatest Hits: The Immediate Years 1967-1969 Yes
The Faces 2015 You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything: 1970-1975 Yes Yes
Various artists 2015 Truckers, Kickers, Cowboys Angels: The Blissed-Out Birth of Country-Rock , Vol. 7: 1974 Yes Yes Yes
Various artists 2015 Songs: The Very Best of Acoustic – The Collection co-prod.Yes
The Rolling Stones 2015 From the Vault: The Marquee Club Live in 1971 Yes
Paul McCartney 2016 Pure McCartney Yes
Eric Clapton 2016 I Still Do Yes Yes
Eagles 2017 Their Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 Yes Yes
Jesse Ed Davis 2017 Red Dirt Boogie: The Atco Recordings 1970-1972 Yes

Favorite Lines from Songs

Sometimes lyrics will hook you into a song more than even the melody…here are a few I like.

I wasn’t looking too good but I was feeling real well… Rolling Stones

Meet the new Boss/same as the old boss…The Who

The sunshine bores the daylights out of me… Rolling Stones

We learned more from a three-minute record, baby/Than we ever learned in school…Bruce Springsteen

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together… Beatles

She knows there’s no success like failure and that failure’s no success at all… Bob Dylan

The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky… Hank Williams SR

Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain and celluloid heroes never really die… Kinks

Yes, I wish that for just one time/You could stand inside my shoes/You’d know what a drag it is to see you… Bob Dylan

But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die… Johnny Cash

I hid in the mother breast of the crowd,/when they said “pull down” I pulled up… Bruce Springsteen

We always did feel the same/We just saw it from a different point of view…Bob Dylan

In Jersey, anything’s legal, as long as you don’t get caught… The Traveling Wilburys

Shake the hand that shook the hand of P.T. Barnum and Charlie Chan… Grateful Dead

Shammy cleaning all the windows singing songs about Edith Piaf’s soul… Van Morrison

I shouted out,”Who killed the Kennedys?” when after all It was you and me…Rolling Stones

Measuring a summer’s day/ I only finds it slips away to grey/ The hours, they bring me pain…Led Zeppelin

I just spent 60 days in the jailhouse/for the crime of having no dough…The Band

You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself…Ricky Nelson

Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again…Paul Simon

I drank enough whiskey to float a battleship around… Lynyrd Skynyrd

I blew out my flip-flop stepped on a pop-top/cut my heel had to cruise on back home… Jimmy Buffet

And in the end,the love you take is equal to the love you make…The Beatles