They are the unsung heroes of the record business. The producer is the man who helps and guides the artist in the recording studio. Sometimes they are in complete control, but most producers work WITH the artist to get the best recording they can. This week, we’re asking questions about some of these producers. Many are household names, and all are certainly well known enough to not send you screaming from the room. This one may be a little tougher than usual, but if you know your music, you should do just fine. As always, there are 10 questions, so score yourself 10 points for each correct answer – see how close you can come to 100%. Answers are below the questions, so let’s have a go, shall we?
1. This producer, who is also a songwriter and performer, makes Miami his home
base, but he was born across the ocean from the U.S.A. His songs have been
recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to Celine Dion. The list of artists he’s
produced includes Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, and Barbra Streisand. His
brothers were extremely helpful in his career. What is the name of this
2. A pioneering producer, this man almost single handedly changed the course of
contemporary music by recording many legendary performers. He loved the
blues and the ‘sun’ shone brightly on his career. His studio later became
a mecca for artists such as U2. He died in 2003 in his 80th year. Who is this
3. Although he’s not known primarily as a producer, this multi platinum selling
singer/songwriter has done quite well in that department. His productions
include several number hit singles as well as albums. He started out playing
the trumpet, but switched to left-handed guitar for a few years until he started
playing the instrument he’s most known for in the early 1960’s. He’s one of the
richest men in the music industry and holds the record for having the most
covers of one of his songs. Who is this sometimes producer?
4. This one should be easy. This pioneering producer created a hit making ‘wall
of sound’ in the 1960’s that many others tried to copy. He was born in the
Bronx, but started in the record industry with two school mates in Los Angeles.
The artists he’s produced include Canadian poet Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion,
Ike & Tina Turner and ‘60’s musical icon Dion and those aren’t even his most
famous clients. He’s known for being rather eccentric. These days, he’s not
producing anyone and has a lot of time on his hands. Can you name
5. This artist/producer was born in Chicago but when his family moved to Seattle,
he met and became close friends with Ray Charles. He later played trumpet
with Lionel Hampton’s big band and became an accomplished musical
arranger. Some of the artists that he created arrangements for include Frank
Sinatra, Count Basie and Ray Charles. One of his most famous musical
compositions is the theme for the Austin Powers films. Lesley Gore, Michael
Jackson are two artists whose records he’s produced. His close friends call him
by the first initial of his first name. He’s scored dozens of movies and won
Academy Awards as well as a whole lot of Grammys. One of his daughters stars
on a hit NBC TV series. Who is this music business legend?
6. Before he met the group that would make him world famous, this British
producer was creating records for comedians Peter Sellers and Charlie Drake
(“My Boomerang Won’t Come Back”) as well as hits for British crooner Matt
Monroe. America, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion, Cilla Black, Jimmy Webb, Little
River Band and Neil Sedaka are just a few of the artists he’s produced, although
I have left out his most famous group. He’s been knighted by Queen Elizabeth
and has officially retired from producing. Can you name this producer?
7. AC/DC, Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, The Cars and Foreigner all owe a debt of
gratitude to this producer, whose skills have made them all millions of dollars.
He got very close to one of his artists and eventually married her. He lives
a reclusive life in Switzerland and hasn’t given an interview in several decades.
He lets his work speak for itself. His nickname is something you’d call a stray \
dog. Who is he?
8. This duo wrote and produced hits for The Drifters, The Coasters, Peggy Lee,
Ben E. King and Procol Harum. They turned the ‘hillbilly cat’ into a ‘hound dog’
and sentenced him to ‘rock’ in the ‘jailhouse’. They ‘stood by’ each other
throughout their decades long career. Both were inducted into the Rock ‘N’
Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Who is this dynamic duo?
9. Billy Joel and Paul Simon call this recording engineer/producer their secret
weapon. Other artists this South African born legend has recorded or produced
include Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Karen Carpenter, Julian
Lennon, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Liza Minnelli,
George Michael, Aretha Franklin and Clay Akin. He was one of the owners of
A&R Studios in New York (HINT: He’s not the ‘A’ part). Who is this 14 time
Grammy Award recipient?
10. This native New Yorker was the first to make Tiny Tim a chart success.
He ‘pointed’ a sister group to the top of the charts, made a solo ‘Starr’ out of
Ringo and made Burton Cummings “Stand Tall”. A cushion in his Los Angeles
office reads, “Rich. Richer. Richard”. I’ve given you his first name. Now all
you have to do is come up with his last.
1. That would be Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees, who was born on the Isle of Man,
England. Although he didn’t produce his own group, he was responsible for
writing most of their hits, including “Stayin’ Alive”, “Jive Talkin’” and dozens
more. Barry wrote “Islands In The Stream”, a 1983 number one hit for Dolly
Parton & Kenny Rogers. He also wrote hits for, and produced his younger
brother Andy Gibb, who died in 1988.
2. Sam Phillips launched Memphis Recording Service in January, 1950. In 1954, a
young truck driver for the Crown Electric Company walked in to cut a record for
his mother. That truck driver was Elvis Presley. For his Sun Records label,
Phillips produced all of the early Elvis recordings, including “That’s All Right”,
“Blue Moon Of Kentucky”, “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, “Baby, Let’s Play House”
and “Midnight Train”. RCA bought Elvis’ contract from Sam in 1955 for
$35,000. Phillips invested some of that money in a new venture called Holiday
Inn and became very wealthy. Sam also produced Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison,
Rufus Thomas, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. He was inducted into the
Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in its first year of existence, 1986.
3. Sir Paul McCartney is that sometimes producer. As a member of The Beatles,
he worked with producer George Martin. On his own, he wrote and produced
Badfinger’s 1970 Top Ten hit, “Come And Get It”, Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were
The Days”, a number two hit in 1968. He also self produced the albums
“McCartney”, “Ram” and “McCartney 2”, plus 7 Wings albums, including, “Wild
Life”, “Red Rose Speedway”, “Band On The Run’, “Venus And Mars”, “Wings At
The Speed Of Sound” and “London Town”. McCartney’s song “Yesterday”,
originally recorded by The Beatles, has been covered by 2,200 artists.
4. If you’re looking for producer Phil Spector these days, you’ll find him in a
prison cell. Spector, who created that ‘wall of sound’ in the 1960’s and
produced hits for The Ronettes, The Crystals and The Righteous Brothers as
well as albums for John Lennon, George Harrison, The Beatles (“Let It Be”)
and The Ramones, was convicted in 2009 of the murder of actress Lana
Clarkson and is currently serving a 19 years to life sentence in California.
5. That would be Quincy Jones, whose friends call him ‘Q’. In the early 1960’s,
Quincy went to work for Mercury Records in their New York office. He
discovered Lesley Gore in 1963 and produced all of her ‘60’s hits, “It’s My
Party”, “Judy’s Turn To Cry”, “You Don’t Own Me”, “Maybe I Know”,
“Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” and “She’s A Fool” among others. Quincy
has won over 40 Grammy Awards, including 3 in 1984 for Michael Jackson’s
“Thriller” album. 'Q' has released 40 albums under his own name and written
the scores for dozens of hit movies, including “In Cold Blood”, “In The Heat Of
The Night”, “The Wiz”, “The Pawnbroker”, “Enter Laughing”, “The Color
Purple”, “The Getaway” and “The Italian Job”. His composition, “Soul
Bossa Nova” is the recurring theme song for the 3 Austin Powers movies. In
1985, Quincy produced the charity song “We Are The World”. Rashida Jones,
Quincy’s daughter with TV actress Peggy Lipton (The Mod Squad), co-stars on
the hit TV series, “Parks And Recreation”.
6. It’s The Beatles’ producer George Martin. A classically trained musician, Sir
George was the head of the Parlophone label for EMI in England when he signed
those four lads from Liverpool. During the time he was recording all of the Fab
Four’s material, (Martin didn’t produce “Let it Be”, that was Phil Spector),
George also produced Cilla Black, Gerry & The Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer.
The group America hired him to produce 7 of their albums. After The Beatles
broke up, George produced the “Pipes Of Peace” and “Tug Of War”albums for
Paul McCartney. He was named a ‘knight bachelor’ in 1996.
7. Robert John ’Mutt’ Lange is the name we’re looking for. His production credits
include “Highway To Hell”, “Back In Black” and “For Those About To Rock” for
AC/DC; Def Leppard’s “High ‘n’ Dry” and “Pyromania” albums plus
Foreigner’s “4”. ‘Mutt’ was born in Northern Rhodesia, now known as Zambia
and moved to England in 1970. His work with Canadian singer Shania Twain
resulted in their marriage, the birth of their son, many successful albums
(including 1997’s “Come On Over” album, which became the best selling album
by a female of all time), and their divorce.
8. That duo is Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. The two met in school in Los Angeles
and discovered they both had a deep seeded love for the blues. For The
Coasters, they wrote 24 songs that made Billboards’ singles chart, including
“Yakety Yak”, “Youngblood”, “Searchin’”, “Along Came Jones”, “Poison Ivy” and
“Charlie Brown”. Elvis Presley took their song “Hound Dog” to the top of the
charts. For ‘The King’, they wrote classics like “Don’t”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “King
Creole” and “Loving You”. Ben E. King recorded Jerry & Mike’s song “Stand By
Me” which made it to number four on the Hot 100 and later was the title song
for the 1986 movie “Stand By Me” starring River Phoenix, COrey Feldman and
Keifer Sutherland. In 1959, Wilbert Harrison’s version of “Kansas City”, a song
Leiber & Stoller had originally called ‘K.C. Lovin’”, went to number one. Other
classic Leiber & Stoller written songs include: “Tell Him” (The Exciters), “She
Cried” (Jay & The Americans), “Love Potion # 9” (The Clovers/The Searchers,
“Is That All There Is?” (Peggy Lee). The Stealers Wheel song, “Stuck In The
Middle With You” was produced by the duo. The Broadway Play, “Smokey Joe’s
Café” features the songs of Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller.
9. He’s Phil Ramone. A&R Studios in Manhattan was once his home base. He
recently finished producing Canadian singer Nikki Yanofsky’s new album. You
might remember her from the opening ceremony of the Vancouver 2010
Olympics. Ramone was born in South Africa and was playing violin from the
age of 3. He played for Queen Elizabeth when he was 10 years old. Phil was a
longtime engineer producer for both Billy Joel and Paul Simon, producing such
classic albums as “52nd Street” and “The Stranger” for Joel – “There Goes
Rhymin’ Simon” and “Graceland” for Simon. Phil Ramone has also produced
music for many television specials and motion pictures, including “A Star is
Born”, “Flashdance” and “Midnight Cowboy” and “Yentl”.
10. Richard Perry is the man who produced Tiny Tim’s “Tip Toe Through The
Tulips” and his “God Bless Tiny Tim” album. Other artists Perry has worked
with include The Pointer Sisters, Burton Cummings, Ringo Starr, Carly Simon,
Harry Nillson, Barbra Streisand, Rod Stewart and Art Garfunkel. For the 1978
movie, “American Hot Wax”, based on the life of pioneering disc jockey Alan
Freed, Perry played a New York record producer. He produced the first three
albums for Rod Stewart’s “Great American Songbook” series.