Remembering Denny Purcell: 1951-2002

Sep 25, 2002 12:00 PM


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Click here to look at our photo album remembering Denny

I Will Miss You, Dad

So, here we are. A place I never thought we would be. You somewhere greater than I could ever imagine and I here, missing you. I never got to say goodbye, but like you always said, "I am looking at the same sky." There will not ever be one day or night that you won't cross my mind. And when my children ask who you were, I will tell them the same thing you told me about your dad: "He was the greatest man that I have ever met. He was the greatest father anyone could have ever had." How will I explain just how wonderful you were, dad? Words could never tell. Tonight I sit here asking, "Why did this accident have to happen to my dad?" I have fought with God tonight. He took away my heart and my ocean. Now where do I go? You had the strength of a lion and the heart of a child. There are so many places I never got to take you. I wanted to show you the world. I will miss your daily calls and e-cards. I will miss spending time with you. Oh God, how I wish I would have spent more time with you. Like you said, "Everything happens for a reason," but this doesn't feel like it. I wish you could have gotten this before last night. Only if I could talk to you now. Please be with Weston. He needs you most. Goodnight, dad. I love you more than you could ever imagine.

–Love, Little Ivy

My Friend

Denny Purcell was the most loving man I ever knew. His kind, reassuring presence brought comfort to all who knew him–and all who knew him loved him. As a mastering engineer, he was exceptional, but as a friend, he was without peer. Denny's smiling face at the top of Georgetown’s staircase signaled another happy ending for the many record producers who made the climb to the top. I considered him to be a part of my family, and when I saw his smiling face adorning the pages of a trade magazine, I was as proud as a blood brother. But when Denny and I were alone, we didn't listen to music, we usually talked about our families…about how the success we had achieved had enriched their lives. He once said, "Norbert, if we work extra hard and always do our best, we can take better care of our families." My friend Denny Purcell worked extra hard, and his family, like the rest of us, benefited greatly. Denny’s presence in my life will be sorely missed.

–Norbert Putnam

Simply Denny

He didn’t need a last name in this town. In Nashville, everyone knew him as Denny. Sure, Denny Purcell was one of the world’s finest mastering engineers and his expertise helped put the finishing refinement on over 7,000 albums, hundreds of which went Gold and Platinum: artists like Neil Young, Garth Brooks, Yo-Yo Ma, Martina McBride, Keith Richards, Trisha Yearwood, Phish, Chet Atkins, Tom Petty, the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits, Donna Summer, George Strait, Kansas and Vince Gill.

It’s also true that Denny was at the vanguard of the finest developments that audio would have to offer, and he was one of the biggest champions of surround audio. High-end audio designers from all over the world clamored to have him audition their gear. But after you got through those well-documented accomplishments, the real reason why Denny Purcell made a difference was his richly dimensional and generous humanity. There was no doubt that you were dealing with someone who cared about you and what he did.

Denny had a way of letting everyone know with his labor of love that what was being listened to and experienced really mattered. Many people came away from Georgetown with not only great-sounding recordings, but also an enhanced sense of self and, more than likely, a new friend.

During his memorial service, where music was provided by John Prine, Nanci Griffith and his fave Nashville band the Del Beatles, person after person lined up and shared deep and meaningful stories of how Denny affected their lives. The wake that night, which was hosted by Starstruck and BMI, was no different. Story after story rendered a picture showing how Denny had made a difference in the Nashville music community–and around the country.

Anyone who Denny enjoyed received regular invitations to go fishing. It took me a while to get around to telling him that I wasn’t really into catching fish, but when I did, he cracked, "If it was about that, they would’ve called it 'catching!'" Of course, he was right.

Denny loved telling jokes–some really good ones and a lot of really bad ones. A visit with Denny would almost always begin with several of them, which he would tell with absolute relish. He would even laugh at the jokes that were so bad that when he stopped, you would be still standing there grinning and waiting for the punch line. In an industry where great "characters" are becoming harder to find, Denny was a classic character in the best sense. He could be so uncool at times that he would be utterly the coolist. He owned his space on this planet, and when he walked into a room, you knew someone special was in your presence.

Those of us who had the good fortune to know Denny loved his goofy, prankster grin and line of bullshit, as well as his impressively analytical mind that cut through that bullshit and provided clarity like few others could. We would be disarmed by his moments of naked candor and vulnerability, and inspired by some of that day’s quiet reflections. We also smiled at his moments of swaggering arrogant bravado. When he was on his game, he walked the walk and talked the talk. And even when he was a little off, he clearly enjoyed knowing that his friends would smile and indulge him when he strutted. We loved his obsession for sharp clothes, nice polished shoes, fine cars that invited tinkering, good food and quality in all things. In fact, Denny’s whole thing was about nurturing a refined hunger to appreciate the highest good out there.

In his quest for the best, he would become frustrated by what he called "good enough." Over the past year, Denny launched a personal crusade to anyone who in the music industry who would that a bottom-line climate of "good enough" was compromising audio and the artistic community, as well as the industry as a whole. One thing I know he hated was mediocrity.

Denny loved music passionately, especially the works of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Duane Eddy, Chet Atkins, Mark Knopfler, John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris and Van Morrison–all artists whose vision exuded the level of integrity and heart that Denny cherished. Even after mastering over 7,000 albums' worth of music, at over 250 a year, he still had that fire to hear something new and become emotionally involved in it.

To watch Denny delve into the music at a mastering session was to witness his commitment to make every nuance matter "for the sake of the song," to borrow a song title of one of Denny’s favorite songwriters, Townes Van Zandt.

In that spirit, every nook and cranny of Georgetown has always been a reflection of his love of great musical artistry and the people who make it happen. He could have covered the walls with Gold and Platinum awards, but instead chose great guitars and pictures of people he loved, like the legendary Chet Atkins, whose picture was propped above his cigar humidor and near the last guitar he played.

In any other place, all these rarities would constitute a museum. At Georgetown, Denny just loved it when someone would play on one of those guitars. To him, the instruments and memorabilia were a heartfelt conveyance of an ongoing celebration of the creative musical spirit.

You never knew who would show up at Georgetown and hang for a while. Often Georgetown felt like the front porch refuge of an old small-town dry goods store where jokes, philosophy, street gossip and music were freely shared and Denny held court–even when he wasn’t there. I’m sure that will continue to be the case. That place will always be Dennyland.

The one memory I will probably cherish the most with Denny happened less than two weeks before he passed away. It was while he was beginning mastering work on a surround collection of classic Emmylou Harris tracks produced by Brian Ahern.

During the auditioning of Harris’ beautifully evocative version of "Too Far Gone," all of the channels unexpectedly dropped out and there was her voice, all by itself, coming out of the center channel. Instead of stopping the tape and seeing what had caused the problem, Denny went with the flow, and we sat there alone in the dark room listening to Emmy pour her heart out through that amazingly fine setup. I’m certain that no one will ever hear her like we did that night. It sounded like she was standing in front of us singing with such intimacy and vulnerable emotion that it was spooky. After a few moments of taking this all in, he and I simultaneously looked at each other–touched by the whole magic of the moment–and we raised our arms in the half-light and there were chill bumps covering them. He smiled, pointed to his arm and said, "These are real. We are hearing magic," and then we let her sing to us until the song finished. Later, we talked about how no amount of technology and Auto-Tuners can manufacture something that pure and honest. As they say, it was in the grooves.

A few days later at Norbert Putnam’s birthday party, Denny sidled up to me and said, "You know when all those channels dropped out during ‘Too Far Gone’? Well, for the first few moments, I sat there trying to look like I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t have a clue what happened. But I’m so glad it happened, because it was one of the most special moments I’ve had in a long time."

Denny liked to send e-mails that were more like meditations than the usual shorthand communication. One morning, while I was logging on and waking up with my first cup of coffee, I saw an e-mail that had been sent at 3 a.m. Within the body of the letter was the following:

"Art is art, without being perceived by anyone or anything. ART IS. As engineers, we each have the opportunity to perceive art in the form of recorded music and preserve it forever. This fact has always excited me and still radiates through me. What a time we are blessed to live in! We get to come to work and play with art, and in a sense, never really have to grow up as some do. We must never take this opportunity for granted. The recorded music that all of us take some part in is, after all–in some way or another–preserved forever. Forever may be hard to fathom, but I said forever. I am fortunate in my job as a mastering engineer for the past 28 years, for I am allowed to spend one to three days one-on-one with some of the most interesting and insightful people in the recorded art world; artists, producers and engineers. What a great gig this is!"

Denny always mentioned his love for his family. I can’t think of one visit where he didn’t beam about them. It was inspiring. He was so proud of each one, his wife Gail Monier Purcell, daughters Rissie Suzanne Purcell, Abby Jane Purcell, Sarah Beth Purcell, Ivy Purcell Arnold and son Weston Walker Purcell.

His appreciation for his friends was also something to behold. He cared deeply, listened long and cajoled you, and called your bluff if he spotted a line of bull. I considered him a friend.

God bless you, Denny.

–Rick Clark, Mix Nashville editor

Gone, But Never Forgotten

I met Denny Purcell in 1985 on my first trip to Nashville, troubleshooting a Neil Young video 1610 to laserdisc transfer. Because I was there, Neil asked me to stop by Georgetown and retrieve the tapes for his Old Ways album, which Denny had mastered. Within five minutes, Denny had my flights rebooked, my hotel changed and my next 18 hours scheduled. I’m sure he would have done more if I hadn’t had to be in New York the next day! Our relationship never changed. I can’t think of one phone call or visit in the last 10 years that didn’t end with, "When are you bringing the family out to my lake house? The fridge is stocked, my Mercedes is yours and we will catch some fish!" You couldn’t get within 100 miles of Nashville without Denny making sure it was gonna be as good as it could. Five thousand miles is actually more accurate.

Denny Purcell’s craft was mastering music. His art was taking every situation that he faced and bringing out the best in it. He used this art in his work, his friendships and in his illness. While he had an excellent "BS" detector, the "know-it-alls," idiots and asses that one inevitably encounters always seemed to be treated as a greater challenge. Backstabbers were his only exception. He was the consummate storyteller, an articulate bullshiter and eloquent speaker of the heart.

We continued to work together on projects for Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and once again for Neil Young. Working on Neil’s archives led me to Denny’s name on countless boxes as a recordist with Gene Eichelberger and Elliot Mazer in the His Master’s Wheels remote truck. A couple of years into the restoration and A/D transfers, the truck became my new home, and Denny provided valuable insight into its history (whooooh!), as well as its electronic refurbishment. Artifacts of the remodel included track sheets, mic runs, an HVAC invoice made out to Denny, as well as copious amount of abandoned drug paraphernalia. Hey, it was the ’70s! The side of the truck still says "His Master’s Wheels, owned by Elliot & Denny." Its tires are sinking into the forest floor as the rust fine tunes the paint job.

The decor includes an "oops" from the infamous ’73 Roxy show as well as a hat, cigar, lighter and cigar trimmer stolen one night from DP during a long night of wine, food, single-barrel bourbon, Cuban music and cigars that Denny hosted for myself and others who were in town to record steam engines for Lionel Trains. Denny, of course, had lined up the hotels, restaurants and even a couple of diesel locomotives for our trip! Did I forget to mention that we traded most of our clothing in the restaurant that night as well? The next day, Denny had his wife Gail running all over half of Tennessee trying to replace the coat I’d stolen from him with one my size. One day, after seeing Denny in three or four ads in Mix, I donned the coat, hat, cigar and lighter and had my picture taken and made my own ad for a new industry group called "BEDS", aka "Buy Everything Denny SEZ." He roared.

On one trip out here, Denny and his son Weston managed to show up the same day Elliot Mazer dropped in from New York. Leave it to Denny! On another, he dragged a bunch of us to all his old ’70s haunts, including his former home in Ken Kesey’s house from the Merry Prankster days. Mr. Fine Tune.

He infected me with the drive to constantly better the situation, be it audio or attitude. He taught me to listen for depth and clarity, as well as tonality. Mostly, Denny taught me to "listen with your ears, but hear with your heart." Hardly gone, never forgotten.

–John Nowland


Denny put more passion into his work than most anybody I have ever known did. Doing it great was Denny's goal. He believed that people enjoyed music more when it sounded better. And he knew what "better" was. He had phenomenal ears, he worked until it was done and he made us laugh all of the time. Neil Young, and the many artists who I worked with, trusted Denny. When Neil asked me to do a DVD-A version of Harvest, I called Denny who helped me and inspired me tremendously. When we were finished, we sent the tapes to Denny, who turned them into the DVD-A that will come out this September.

The sad thing is that Denny never got to see the thing in the stores. Today is August 22, maybe three weeks too soon. We are trying to see if it is not too late to put a dedication for him on the DVD.

Denny and I worked and played together since the early ’70s. He worked at Quadraphonic Sound Studios in Nashville, and then in His Master's Wheels, our remote truck and studio.

He will be sorely missed by the many people who he touched.

–Elliot Mazer, New York

The Young Denny

Denny was always striving to learn, to be better at whatever he was doing. I remember when Denny first came to me, teaching him how to wrap mic cables–the under-and-over method. Then, when we both went on the road with His Masters Wheels, I being in charge of the truck technically and Denny being the stage setup engineer. When working the Neil Young/Linda Ronstadt 80-day tour, he had to set up 30 mics every night, usually in a different venue each time, some of which were very challenging, relative to how the wires had to be run from the truck to the stage with no buzz from any microphone. He always pulled it off.

One day, when Neil gave us a couple of days off while in New Orleans, I was walking down Beale Street, staring at the hookers, when I ran into a street light and about knocked myself unconscious. I went back to the hotel to recuperate; Denny knocked on the door and presented me with a young woman whom we'd met the night before to help ease my pain and speed my recovery; Denny was always trying to help his buddies any way he could.

We received a call to work Don Kirshner's Rock Concert in New York City at the Pallace Theater–up till that time, Denny and I always had drivers who usually parked the truck in the right place, but not always. We decided to get our CDLs so we could move the truck to the right location when needed. We practiced and passed the test, then headed to New York City, Times Square, through Lancaster, Pa (where my parents lived). We picked up some veggies and other food for the trip to New York City–the cauliflower was left in the back of the truck for a few days. We did the concerts, recording Billy Joel's TV premiere.

That evening ran late because of a union problem; I stayed to do a mix of The Raspberries, and I asked Denny, "Who the *&!$ are The Raspberries?" He replied, "They only have a million-selling record out there, Gene." (We've had many laughs about that over the years.) So Denny and Gail headed back to the hotel up 7th Avenue; about 10 minutes after they left, there was a banging on the truck door. They were scared back by the whores and pimps jumping behind dumpsters every time the cops cruised by.

The next day, we started to drive back to Tennessee, but the brakes went out. We went to Hertz and got the lines fixed, then proceeded to eat the leftover cauliflower as we headed out of town. Soon, the truck was being powered by other than diesel fumes. Gail crawled into the sleeper to flee our smell.

Another highlight in Denny's remote truck recording experience was a CBS event "A Week to Remember" at the Ammison Theater in L.A., where we recorded 25 different acts in five days. Denny talked about doing country, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, pop and the blues all in one week while reminiscing about his trucking days.

–Gene Eichelberger

My Surround Man

My introduction to Denny was through Chuck Ainlay. Chuck could only say the nicest things about Denny. Then when Tony Brown came down to the Tracking Room, we talked about mastering Vince Gill's 5.1 project that would be the first one out of Nashville. Tony and Chuck kept talking about this great mastering guy, "Denny." They couldn't have been more correct. Denny's approach and integrity really showed me just what a master he was.

After several projects with Denny, I realized what a good friend he became. He cared so much about family–his children were his life, and he was so proud of them. In April 2001, I had to come out to Nashville for some business. Denny said, "Rory, why don't you bring your daughter and I'll take you fishing at Jim Henry's." So, I took my daughter with me as she was so excited to be with daddy. Denny was telling my daughter the secrets of life–he was so sincere and nothing but passion. He taught Elise how to bait her line, cast and catch. Well, Denny and I caught about 40 to 50 fish each, while Elise caught 104. She was glowing like the sun, and Denny just smiled as if he gave her one of the greatest gifts she could have had, and it was!!!!!!!!

We would always talk about 5.1 tricks, and how he sees the future and how to educate the public, but then it would always turn to family, love, guitars. One night in New York, Denny invited a few of us to go see Les Paul perform. Denny introduced us, and I was in heaven. During the show, Les invited Denny up onstage to have some banter between them. Denny handed me his camera and asked me to take as many shots as I could. Les also signed his pick guard from his Gold Top (Les Paul Deluxe Guitar), I believe. Denny was like a child holding his favorite baseball player's autograph.

Denny would write poem-like notes to me, which seemed to ground me in the everyday stress, and then I would think, "How wonderful to have a friend like Denny who cares from the heart." He was so rare; he was thoughtful, kind, loving, giving, proud, grounded and he loved his family. Sometimes he would get stressed, but in the economy of the past few years, who wouldn't. I will always treasure his integrity in the surround world for setting the standards of which we all listen to now. He was surrounded by so many wonderful friends.

My last visit with Denny was in late June during the NAMM and NARAS meetings. The next day, he picked me up at my hotel and drove us to Brian Ahern's. Denny was so proud of Brian's work on this new 5.1 Emmylou Harris project. Brian was such a gentleman, just like Chuck Ainlay. Denny had such dear warm people working with him always. Brian played his new mixes for me and I was so blown away. Denny sat in back of me, I turned around and saw how proud he was of Brian. I loved that about Denny–it was never about him!!! On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at an Italian place that he said served the best ice cream in Nashville. It was closed, so we took advantage of our time to talk about our personal state of affairs. He told me how he loved his daughters and son, how he was sorry about some of the things he had put them through. It hurt him, but he was honest about all of it and wished he could have turned the clock around. He just smiled when I discussed my children, as he loved them too.

Denny was much more than a mastering engineer, he was one of the greatest human beings I've ever known. Here are a couple of samples of Denny's words:

Dear Rory, I trust this finds you, your son and daughter and Mother o.k. My health, you asked: I saw my transplant doctor, Wright Pinson just three weeks ago. He teaches others across the Globe his methodology. I asked him, after six months of waiting, "Where are we, NOW?" He said, "Denny, you're my friend. You're the healthiest patient I've ever had, and the worst thing I could do for you right now is give you another liver. You're at the top of the list, if you need one, we'll put one in, but as long as you stay as healthy as a 30-year-old as you are right now, we're going to leave you alone. Come back and see me in six months, but come by or call me if you have ANY problems." So that, my friend, Rory, is the Good News! So when are you coming fishing? Jim Henry caught a 62lb. catfish last week using a whole, live bluegill as bait. thank you. XXOO, denny

Dear Rory, Here is all that matters: I LOVE YOU! My health is better than it's been in 2 years. Dr. Wright Pinson (The Top Liver Transplant DR. in the WORLD) says, "Denny, you don't look like a patient." I'm only taking minimal medicines. Rory, I'm rockin'. My daughter, little Ivy, just graduated from Belmont University at 11:04 this morning with a BBA in Music with a focus on Marketing. She's only 21 and finished in 4 years! Thank you so very much for your kind words; I needed that, especially from YOU. Please remember I'm here, but there with you. Be careful, and GODSPEED. Please come fishing! XXOO, denny

Okay, this is getting hard, the tears are not stopping now. Please use whatever you want from this. Thank you so much for allowing me to share my love for Denny.

–Warmest Regards, Rory S. Kaplan

Only Denny for Me

Denny had a trait all of us in the music business could learn from. The way he mastered an can't teach that. This is what he was born to do, and I'm very proud to say that in my career, no one has ever mastered an album of mine but Denny. I'm extremely lucky.

–Garth Brooks

Gentle and Kind

Even in a business filled with gentle, kind, creative people, Denny Purcell stood out as one of the sweetest of all. He had the particular gift of letting you know he loved you and that you were special to him and important in his work and his life. Denny shared his workplace, his friends and his family with all of us who knew him. Many of us got to know his entire family and watch his five children he was so proud of grow up. His business, Georgetown Masters, was a meeting place for all kinds of people. Often dropping in to see Denny (at his standing invitation), I would meet many legendary artists, producers, record company executives and, of course, engineers. Some were old friends, and some I knew only by reputation. Whether working or visiting, a few hours spent at Georgetown was always an uplifting "Denny experience," and my life has been much richer these past many years because of him. I love Denny and will miss him tremendously for the rest of my life.

–Duane Eddy

Farewell, My Brother

Denny was without a doubt the most passionate person I've ever met. He loved songs and he treated everybody's songs as if they were his own! He had a way of making every client feel like their project was the most important project ever–but it wasn't an act. When he worked on your project, he truly did feel it was the most important of all time.

But that was Denny's attitude toward life in general–that every person and every thing was intriguing and worth understanding. Two of Denny's best friends were a multi-Platinum music legend and a homeless, jobless person who nobody else would even take the time to look straight in the eye. He could see through the superficial exterior of a person better than anybody else, and that part of a person meant nothing to him. That explains why a person with so many achievements in life chose to line the walls of his studio not with awards, but with musical instruments.

He loved learning, especially when he learned by doing. He prided himself on being just a little bit of a hillbilly, because when caught in a hole, he felt hillbillies were best equipped to dig themselves out. This was because hillbillies could figure out how to do everything for themselves, in a McGyver sort of way. He used to say, "Three hillbillies sitting on a porch whittling wood could figure out more in an afternoon than a board room full of top executives could figure out in a week."

Denny and I worked many 16-20 hour days together and did so seven days a week. On the particularly long days when I would leave the studio at 3 or 4 in the morning and come back a couple of hours later, he would always leave me a note where we were working. I found one he had written last week. He wrote:

"Years from now, someone will listen to what we've done and know we were here
They may not know or care who we were
But they'll hear our music speaking for us.
And just maybe they'll understand something
That’s the way it's supposed to be.
The players come and go, but the music lives on.
Eternity will take care of the rest."

At the end of a session, especially when an artist would thank Denny for his genius, Denny would pull them aside and say, "Thank you…for the songs!" On behalf of all the people who worked with Denny over the years, I would like to thank him one last time for giving all of the songs the greatest impact and making them sound as good as they could possibly sound. On behalf of Denny, I would like to say one last time to the thousands of artists, producers and engineers who had the opportunity to work with him, and to the millions of unfortunate ones who never had the chance: THANK YOU FOR THE SONGS!!!!

Denny used to always say we were brothers in arms. I will not desert you my brother in arms.

-- Andrew Menelson, VP, mastering engineer, Georgetown Masters

Always In the Present

It's hard to think of Denny Purcell in the past tense. I am going to miss walking in on his sessions, and him walking in on my meetings. Whatever challenges life threw him, he faced them with his head up and a major sense of humor. He has left an indelible mark on everyone whose life he touched. He was a master of his craft and a master at appreciating every day. He taught me about life by allowing me to be a part of his. Thanks Denny.

–Al Bunetta

Only Denny Could Hear It

Denny heard things that no one else could hear. One day, I was at Georgetown and happened to mention how much I enjoyed the new Dylan album, Love and Theft, and Denny's eyes lit up. I said I'd listened to one track in particular, a song called "Mississippi," at least 100 times. Denny beamed and asked, "Did you hear what they did at 2:37, going into the second bridge?" I shook my head no. Denny immediately stopped what he was doing, cued up the song and played the section for me twice. But I couldn't discern anything different from anywhere else on the track. Like a high school kid, Denny pointed out a move one of the guitarists made that was completely different from the two other bridge entrances, something very subtle and nuanced, yet deliberate, powerful and very important to the feel of the song. Something only Denny could hear.

–Steve Fishell

Compassion and Understanding

I had the pleasure of knowing Denny for almost one-quarter of his life. All else aside, what stands out to me about Denny Purcell probably more than anything else was his sense of kindness toward people. He had an ability to approach people with one of the most kind and generous manners I have ever experienced. Soft spoken and an ability to set a mutual tone of peace and acceptance with rarely or never a negative word toward any fellow man. He had a desire to look for the good in people rather than the negative. In addition to what he spent the majority of his life pursuing, providing the musical community with records and discs, Denny Purcell felt it his duty and honor to work toward the betterment of music reproduction through accurate and quality mastering techniques. And he did indeed in order that the musical community could express themselves to the best of their abilities. And it's really only all about people and the environment in which we reside, isn't it? I will miss him very much and I know many others will as well.

–Ric Loomis

My Competitor, My Respects

Nashville and the mastering profession has lost a wonderful mastering engineer, Denny Purcell. Denny and I knew each other for the past 20 years or so. Although we were competitors, we always had a mutual respect for each other. Any time a client would bring up Denny's name to me, I always had good things to say about him. He extended the same courtesy to me. Never in the 20 or so years of our friendship did I ever hear of him saying anything negative toward me.

One afternoon, I ran in to Denny on the street in front of Masterfonics. We began talking and Denny invited me to come see him anytime. As I recall, he said to me, "I know we are competitors but I respect you for what you do, and I know you respect me for what I do, and we are still friends." I considered Denny to be a friend, and I knew I was welcome in his house just as he was welcome in mine.

Denny, his sense of humor and his extraordinary talent will be greatly missed.

God Bless Denny and his family

–Benny Quinn

The Popsicle Story

This is the story of how Denny Purcell came to Nashville to seek his fame and fortune. January 1970, he brought his first wife and daughter to Nashville. He had a strong interest in the music business and wanted to be involved in the recording aspect, but had no plan as to how he could make this a reality.

He went door to door down Music Row hoping to get in and just hang out. He met Gene Eichelberger at Quadrafonic Studios. Some days, he would let him come in. Many days, there would be closed sessions and he was turned away. He became very discouraged.

Summer was coming and Denny needed money for his family. A Popsicle truck came down the street every day. His little daughter Rissie would get very excited when she would hear it coming. Denny decided this could be fun so he signed on and became a Popsicle man. He was given a route in Hendersonville, Tenn., where he sold one to Johnny Cash. This was very exciting to him. Being the businessman that he was, he decided he could make more money if he bought his own truck. The Ice Cream Company let him borrow a freezer box to set on the back of his old pickup. Unfortunately, it was not electric, and by the end of the day, whatever product was left was usually melted. So what he didn’t give away or consume was thrown out by the end of the day.

He realized this was a distraction from his original plan so he gave up the Popsicle biz and became more active with his visits to Gene and the studio. Before long, he was asked to go out for coffee or sandwiches for the clients. Then he was asked to borrow equipment from other studios. One thing led to another; he had become accepted into the recording industry.

It’s like a fairy tale where dreams can come true.

--Rissie Purcell, eldest daughter

Click here to look at our photo album remembering Denny

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Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95



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MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

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