Andy Johns Dies

April 9, 2013 by  

Andy Johns Dies, British record producer and sound engineer Andy Johns, who like his older brother Glyn Johns worked with some of the biggest rock bands of the 1960s and ’70s, including the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, has died at age 62. British newspapers reported that Johns passed on after suffering from a liver ailment.

Andy Johns started his career as a tape operator at London’s Olympic Studios during a period of exceptional musical ferment. He later recalled that “in those days, you could go into one studio and Joe Cocker was working, and then you’re working with Jimi Hendrix in Studio One, or down the corridor Eric Clapton is doing something.”

He worked as an assistant producer with the Stones during recording of their landmark 1972 album, “Exile On Main St.” He also was involved with two of the band’s follow-up albums, “Goat’s Head Soup” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll.” During his career, Johns also helped capture the studio sound of Free, Jethro Tull and Humble Pie, among other groups.

Later in the 1970s, Johns relocated to Los Angeles and became a go-to producer for heavy metal stalwarts such as Van Halen and Cinderella.

[Updated at 11:23 a.m. April 9, 2013:] As one might hope from a man of his unique vantage point, Johns had many anecdotes about his studio sessions with various rock legends. He shared some of them in a 2009 interview with music historian and author Harvey Kubernik. Here’s an edited sample of one of their exchanges, from a transcript that Kubernik provided to Pop & Hiss:

You had a recording history and personal history with the Rolling Stones before you engineered “Exile on Main St.” You were a tape operator at Olympic Studios for “Their Satanic Majesties Request” sessions, and knew the band even earlier owing to your brother Glyn engineering their sessions from the beginning of their career.
Well, I was aware of them when Glyn did their first demos at IBC. They didn’t even have a record deal. I remember him bringing that stuff back to the house. They soon started making records…. I remember Bill Wyman had this bass that he’d made himself. Hand-made bass that used to be under [Ian Stewart’s] bed. And there was a copy of ‘Satisfaction’ in 1965, and it hadn’t come out in England yet. So, here I am this teenager with a copy of the latest Stones single, which just happens to be ‘Satisfaction.’ And I started banging around on Bill’s bass and that’s when I really got interested in playing bass.

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