Musicians Pay Tribute to Legendary Beatles Audio Engineer Geoff Emerick

Geoff Emerick, the revolutionary Beatles engineer, worked on some of the group’s most iconic albums.

The Beatles’ famed chief audio recording engineer, Geoff Emerick, has passed away from a heart attack.  He was 72.

William Zabaleta, Emerick’s manager, confirmed the passing on social media.

While on the phone with Geoff Emerick, he had complications, dropped the phone.  At that point I called 911, but by the time they got there it was too late.  So Geoff suffered from heart problems for a long time.  He had a pacemaker and, you know, when it’s your time, it’s your time.  We lost a legend and a best friend to me and a mentor.”

Emerick started his career at a very young age.

Joining EMI at the age of 15, the teenage audio engineer found himself at the Beatles’ first recording session in 1962.  It was his first week on the job.

Speaking with CNN about the experience in 2006, Emerick said,

“It was the right place at the right time.  It could have happened to anybody.

He then worked with the Beatles on several albums, including Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Emerick also received credit for his work on The White Album.

The engineer quickly adapted to the improv style of the Beatles.  He explained in his 2006 memoir, Here, There, and Everywhere,

“‘Paul might say, ‘This song needs brass and timpani,’ John’s direction might be more like ‘Give me the feel of James Dean gunning his motorcycle down a highway.’  Or ‘Make me sound like the Dalai Lama chanting on a mountaintop.’”

Once the Beatles split, Emerick went on to work with Paul McCartney.  He produced Band on the Run.  Emerick had also worked with The Zombies and Elvis Costello.

Stars speak out on Emerick’s passing.

On social media, several musicians paid tribute to the famed audio engineer.

Julian Lennon wrote,

R.I.P. Geoff… One of a kind…

Denny Laine of Wings said,

Geoff was a brilliant engineer and a fine man.

Midge Ure wrote,

Geoff was Sir George Martin’s ‘right hand man’ and worked on Ultravoxs Quartet with us.  A lovely, quiet, unassuming man who helped change the way music was produced.

On his website, Paul McCartney issued a heartfelt statement, which you can read below.

“I first met Geoff when he was a young engineer working at Abbey Road Studios.  He would grow to be the main engineer that we worked with on many of our Beatles tracks.  He had a sense of humor that fitted well with our attitude to work in the studio and was always open to the many new ideas that we threw at him.  [Geoff] grew to understand what we liked to hear and developed all sorts of techniques to achieve this.

“Geoff would use a special microphone for the bass drum and played it strategically to achieve the sound that we asked him for.  We spent many exciting hours in the studio and he never failed to come up with the goods.  After The Beatles, I continued to work with him and our friendship grew to the point where when he got married to his beautiful wife Nicole, it was in the church close to where we lived in the country.

“He came with me to Lagos Nigeria to record my album ‘Band on the Run’.  I remember arriving at the half built studio with a handful of 45s which I played for him to explain what direction I wanted to take on this particular album.  I remember asking him to make sure that the tracks had a lot of space and he was happy to deliver that.  We kept in touch through the years and our phone calls or messages always gained a giggle or two.

“Having seen him as recently as this year when he came to visit us at Henson Studio in LA, where we were putting the finishing touches to ‘Egypt Station’, he was his usual cheerful friendly self and gave me the thumbs up to the mixes we played him.

“I’ll always remember him with great fondness and I know his work will be long remembered by connoisseurs of sound.”


Featured image by Recording Academy – Membership (YouTube screengrab).