Tom Dowd, Legendary Engineer and Producer, Dies

Oct 30, 2002 12:00 PM, Grammy.com

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Tom Dowd, a Grammy-winning music producer and recording engineer whose resume provided a virtual roadmap of pop, rock, jazz and R&B music over the past half-century, died Sunday at an assisted living facility in Aventura, Fla. He was 77.

For an in-depth look at his remarkable career, read the two-part interview with Tom Dowd, by Blair Jackson, from the October and November, 1999 issues of Mix.

No cause of death was immediately announced.

Dowd worked with such recording legends as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, John Coltrane, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers.

Earlier this year, at the 44th Grammy Awards, Dowd was honored with a Trustees Award in recognition of "lifelong artistic contributions to the recording medium" and "outstanding contributions to the industry in a nonperforming capacity." Dowd was inducted into the TEC Awards Hall of Fame in 1999.

While Dowd trained as a musician, he worked on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University from 1942-46. In 1947, he applied his knowledge of physics to disc recording, and went on to build the first stereo and 8-track recording consoles at Atlantic Records in 1954. "I wanted a machine that you could back up and add to it," he told the Miami Herald in an interview. "That put the chink in everyone's armor, because Atlantic now had a unique sound."

Dowd won his only Grammy in 1992 for Best Album Notes. He shared the award with Ahmet Ertegun, Arif Mardin, Dave Marsh, David Ritz, Jerry Wexler and Thulani Davis for the notes on Aretha Franklin's Queen of Soul—The Atlantic Recordings.

He teamed up with producer Wexler and arranger Mardin on some of Franklin's biggest hits, including the 1968 album Lady Soul, which featured the hits "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Dowd, Wexler and Mardin also turned out some of the late Dusty Springfield's biggest hits, including the legendary Dusty in Memphis album, which featured "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Windmills of Your Mind."

Dowd also produced albums for Bette Midler, Booker T. & The MG's, Buddy Guy, Eddie Money, Gladys Knight, Herbie Mann, Kenny Loggins, Diana Ross and Wilson Pickett. He produced, arrange and Chicago's Chicago XIV, and so many others.

Dowd's engineering credits included projects with a diverse array of performers, including Art Farmer, Betty Carter, Big Joe Turner, Billy Taylor, Bobby Darin, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Bobby Short, Carmen McRae, Charles Mingus, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, LaVern Baker, Milt Hinton, Milt Jackson, Mose Allison, Ornette Coleman and Patti LaBelle. He engineered seven Coltrane albums, including the 1960 album My Favorite Things, and five albums for Charles, includingThe Genius of Ray Charles in 1959.

Dowd is survived by his wife, Cheryl Dowd, and three children, Dana, Steven and Todd. The Herald reported that no funeral services would be held.

www.grammy.com/news/industry/1028dowd.html






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