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Geoff Emerick dies aged 72

Legendary recording engineer Geoff Emerick, best known for his work with The Beatles, died yesterday, aged 72.

Emerick became producer George Martin’s right hand man in the second half of the 1960s and engineered Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Abbey Road and some of ‘The White Album’ (which will be reissued in November).

After The Beatles broke up, Geoff was involved with artists like Badfinger, Art Garfunkel, America, Jeff Beck, and Supertramp and continued to work with Paul McCartney on and off, notably on Band on the Run where he had to help whip EMI’s studio in Lagos into some kind of shape so that Paul, Denny Laine and Linda could record the album (he was rewarded with a GRAMMY for his efforts).

In the book that accompanies the 2010 reissue of Band on the Run Emerick described his relationship with McCartney: “I know the way Paul feels or thinks about sometimes, and I am sure he knows the way I feel, because it’s facial expressions, all sorts of stuff, you know and it’s, like, 1962 that we’ve known each other.”

Elvis Costello ‘borrowed’ Geoff and used him as producer for his Imperial Bedroom album (released in 1982) while Emerick was simultaneously busy engineering McCartney’s Tug Of War. 

Geoff Emerick’s association with The Beatles defined his life and career. EMI asked him to put together some unissued Fab Four material in the early 1980s which was almost released as Sessions. The project was blocked by Yoko and the former Beatles but was the genesis of the mid-1990s Beatles Anthology project, in which Geoff was again involved.

Geoff wrote a semi-controversial autobiography in 2006 and continued to speak around the world about his work with The Beatles and George Martin.

Geoff Emerick appears to have died of a heart attack and an official statement was made via video, below.

23 responses to Geoff Emerick dies aged 72

  1. guillaume chabason says:

    it’s just incredible that no one ever mentions his work with Gino Vannelli ” The Gist of the Gemini” 1976
    A real masterpiece

  2. Jonathan says:

    I was thinking about the key players in the Beatles story who were still with us the day before he died. His book is the most gripping non fiction book I’ll ever read.

  3. Greg says:

    What a legacy for others to explore and enjoy. If only he’d managed the Beatles remastering program we’d have avoided a generation of ‘re-imaginings’ that will need to be re-done in the years to come. RIP Geoff.

  4. Stephen Muzyka says:

    R.I.P. Geoff Emerick.
    A truly pioneering engineer. The sonic innovation of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ alone assures his place in music history. Gave ‘Revolver’ a spin when I heard the news. It never disappoints.
    Thanks for being part of the greatest album of all time.

  5. MrBB says:

    I’ll never forget his work with Big Country on the soundtrack for Restless Natives. At a time when the band were being manipulated by a record company who didn’t know how to market them, or even what to do with them, he brought back elements of the sound that made The Crossing and Steeltown such wonderful albums.

    A true diamond of a man. A real sad loss to the music world as we know it.

  6. Ex-Oligarch says:

    “Odyssey and Oracle” by the Zombies
    “My White Bicycle” by Tomorrow
    “Wired” by Jeff Beck
    “Even in the Quietest Moments” by Supertramp
    “I am the Cosmos” by Chris Bell
    “Quartet” by Ultravox
    Badfinger, Robin Trower, America, Split Enz, Nazareth, Cockney Rebel, Nektar, UK, Gentle Giant, UFO, Cheap Trick, and many more

  7. phantomengineer says:

    Putting aside his great work The Beatles and The Mahavishnu Orchestra amongst other of my favourites, his work on Elvis Costello’s ‘Imperial Bedroom’, including the realising of Elvis’s vision of the sound for such, makes it still one of my top twenty albums of all time, and one that has been played in this household at least once every month since its release in 1982, including I imagine later tonight. Elvis must still rate it too given the touring show he based around it in 2016/17. Condolences to his family and friends.

  8. Rob says:

    In addition to his significant contributions to the Beatles catalog, he was at the helm of so many other great albums. One of my favorites is Tommy Keene’s “Songs From the Film”. An 80’s power-pop masterpiece.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB_u2gC5S5o

  9. Francis Maher says:

    When I look at a lot of my music collection , Geoff Emerick is in there a lot . Another great loss to recorded music . I wish his Family and friends my sincerest condolences .

  10. Mathew Lauren says:

    R.I.P., Geoff. Thanks for your work.

    It’s a shame that these guys aren’t/weren’t involved in the (proper – BEATLES original-album) 5.1/ATMOS RE campaigns that have (finally) begun. Hope their brilliance influences the projects going forward, and these 5.1/ATMOS reissues are immersive, discrete & RM’d for audiophiles.

    …and NOT remastered “HOT” like “SPLHCB” 5.1 for HTiB owners (the masses), only. FTR, the multiple “surround” audio-codecs offered could address this issue (imho), satisfying all.

    Back to Geoff. Thanks for teaming with George to show how a duo (great studio-engineers) can produce great music in the studio. Steely Dan had that (a great studio-engineer team), as well, b4 death ended that collaboration, as well.

  11. adam shaw says:

    So sad . I’ve been following him in twitter lately , he’d been talking about the white album as it’s box set release was coming up .

  12. Rodolfo Martin says:

    He was very active. I listened to him on a radio interview in Argentina. He was also recording with a local artist there. This was not more than three months ago. Of course, he only talked about The Beatles and his relationship with them, Lennon’s requests on Tomorrow Never Knows, etc, etc, etc. It was good to hear the stories first hand. He sense of humor was notable. No mentions about his work post Beatles unfortunately. One big comment that I remember was having said that the Beatles remastered and remixed were a sacrilege. He said that it was like repainting Da Vinci. My feeling was that he was upset because he was not involved in the project. HE did O good job for the BBC at the time of the release of Sgt. Pepper 50 Anniversary, that I highly recommend if you did not watch it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygAoflpa3r4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zf28CM6o76c

    • stanleybagdadmumbler says:

      He didn’t seem like the sort of person that would be upset about not being involved. Bare in mind he walked out of The White Album sessions because John Lennon was rude to him, so he obviously felt certain things were more important than being involved in making their music.
      He’s said that the 2009 Mono Cd’s are ok, and I’d assume he would have been in favour of the mono vinyl more recently – he just felt that changing the sound of the albums to fit a more modern ideal of music production was wrong, and I’d agree. I think he said something about how someone once came up to him and said – wow I can finally hear a cow bell on Sgt Pepper, I always wondered what that was – and he said when they made it they didn’t want people to tell it was a cow bell which is why they recorded, eq’d and mixed it that way. Change the sound of the music, and you change the artists intention. I think it’s a pretty good rule of thumb myself.

  13. John Barleycorn says:

    There is a 100 minute podcast available on iTunes if you search for Strange Brew in your app/browser. It features an interview with Geoff Emerick from 2016 intercut with 18 key tracks from his working relationship with The Beatles, Wings, Mannfred Mann and Elvis Costello.

    Here’s the link if I am allowed to post it (and if it works!)
    http://thestrangebrew.co.uk/?feed=podcast

  14. Chris Squires says:

    Geoff also worked on Kate Bush’s demo tape paid for by Dave Gilmour. It was this tape that garnered a massive yes from EMI and the rest, as they say, is herstory……..

  15. GL says:

    Very sad. He also produced ‘Reverberation’ by Echo & The Bunnymen. A record pretty much ignored since release as McCulloch isn’t on it but it’s a fine album. Great production and feel to it.

  16. James vandegrift says:

    R.I.P. Geoff Thanks for the sterling work

  17. Trash says:

    Often forgotten amongst the wonderful things he worked on but he also produced one of my favourite albums – Nick Heyward’s North of a Miracle.

    It really has a rich, warm sound (atypical of much 80s material) and some great orchestration.

    Another sad loss.

  18. Webvan says:

    RIP Geoff, yes great book. Why was it “semi-controversial” again? I remember Ken Scott claiming that Geoff didn’t remember much and that his co-author had to make calls to fill in the gaps…

  19. Colin Harper says:

    A lovely man. I interviewed him for my book ‘Bathed in Lightning: John McLaughlin, the 60s and the Emerald Beyond’ (2014) and his recollections of engineering the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s ‘Apocalypse’ in 1974 , with George Martin producing, were vivid and insightful. He struck me as a no-nonsense fellow, the sort of man who could be relied on to get the best possible job done and not be over-awed by situations or the stature of musicians.

    By 1974, as in the quote above about himself and Paul, he and George Martin knew each other’s thinking inside out, on studio/recording matters, so long conversations weren’t required. ‘Apocalypse’ was technically challenging – a loud band and a symphony orchestra wishing to play/record simultaneously – and potentially tricky in terms of control: George producing, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting, and John McLaughlin trying to get his artistic vision down. It ended up being Geoerge Martin’s favourite album of his own productions. Geoff Emerick’s skills were a big part of that.

  20. Gareth says:

    Geoff’s book is a fascinating sideways glimpse into Fabworld. Highly recommended, albeit he’s somewhat dismissive of George’s abilities and contribution guitar-wise.

  21. Iain Carmichael says:

    A contribution that will always register in the annals of the Glory that was/is , the Fabs !!

  22. Michael Chapman says:

    RIP Geoff Emerick. A brilliant addition to the magic of The Beatles and others music.

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