RIP Andy Johns

 Posted by
Apr 082013


He was a Great Man who engineered Exile on Main Street, The Greatest Record Ever Made.

On coming to America, from an interview on

I came over here in 1970, because I was working with Jimmy Miller and he was an American who had a production company out here. The studios were a little behind the times, though. When I was mixing “Stairway to Heaven” over at Sunset Sound and I wanted to pan something, I said, “You don’t have pan pots on the channels.” They responded, “We have a pan pot. Bring on the pan pot!” They bring out this guy on a gurney, you know? A big box with a huge knob, a pan pot man. Christ, the Americans sent someone to the moon, but they only had one pan pot. It was like having one meatball. You can have all the bread you want, but only with one meatball.


  17 Responses to “RIP Andy Johns”

  1. I know Andy Johns engineered many great albums, and I know great engineers are usually overlooked gems within the recording world. The album that stands out most for me, however, was Television’s Marquee Moon, which he produced. Few albums have a better combination of drum, bass, and guitar sounds for my ears. It’s got all the balls I want out of rock ‘n roll with all the atmospheric stuff I love hearing the privacy of my own bedroom or car. All that from a group of musicians who didn’t seem that naturally dynamic (as opposed to 3/4 of the members of Led Zeppelin or the top dogs in the Stones, for instance).

  2. jeangray

    Yes, I thought he was going to say that “Marquee Moon” was The Greatest Record Ever Made.

  3. It’s at least the Greatest Side One of Any Record Ever Made:)

  4. It’s way up there for sure.

  5. cherguevara

    He was apparently quite miserable working with Television.

    One of the greats….

  6. 2000 Man

    Marquee Moon is pretty great, but Exile is the greatest thing that ever happened. The odds of great sounding Rock recordings these days just got a little slimmer. I hope there are people that were paying attention to what people like Andy Johns did.

  7. cliff sovinsanity

    I’m not trying to pick a fight about Exile, ’cause I like the rawness of the whole thing, but how can you claim it’s greatness considering all the overdubbing to compensate for the rough mix. If you mean to say it’s the best recording of a band in a humid basement I’ll give you that one.

  8. 2000 Man

    Almost every album has overdubbing. Exile doesn’t have any more than any other, it just wasn’t all done in the same place. But then Exile was recorded over a few years in a few different places, not just at Nellcote, so there was bound to be a lot of post production work to make it sound like it all came from the same time and place. Here’s a swell interview with Andy from Goldmine a few years back:

  9. I agree with 2k Man. It’s not like they overdubbed a live performance but then held it out as a live album a la the Last Waltz or KISS Alive. It’s a studio album so I expect overdubs.

  10. 2000 Man

    Yeah, it’s not like Exile is Get Yer Ya Ya’s out or something! Cuz the audience on that album is live as hell!

  11. cliff sovinsanity

    Oh, I have no problem with overdubbing. If I recall from the book A Season In Hell…., the mixes were so bad from Nellcote that they needed a lot of help in terms of sound and adding horns and back up singers. There’s a lot of overdubbing on Goats Head Soup and the mix on that one sounds great. Like I said before I like the sound of Exile and I’m not trying to take anything away from Johns or even Jimmy Miller. I’ll check out the Goldmine article though.

  12. misterioso

    2k, I’m not sure how to read your comment about Get Yer Ya-Ya’s: you know they did fairly substantial overdubs on that, right?

  13. 2000 Man

    I dunno, Cliff. I always thought GHS sounded awful. Virgin’s remaster was a damned revelation compared to everything prior, and it’s still just a pretty good recording. Andy talks about the tape machine they used in the mobile for Exile. It’s pretty interesting.

    Misterioso, there’s a web page by a guy named chrism (google chrism rolling stones) and he goes into total fanboy dissection of Ya Ya’s. Us fanboys have bitched forever that that album isn’t even remotely “live” in a lot of spots. Like Sympathy for the Devil. I’m one of the people that doesn’t care too much, though. Ya Ya’s is a great record, and as a record I have no complaints at all.

  14. jeangray

    Someone needs to start a LMS thread on “LIVE” albums, that haven’t been overdubbed/doctored in the studio. Somethang tells me that it would be a short list.

  15. misterioso

    2k, yeah, I figured a hardcore Stones guy like you was aware of the overdubs. It bugs a part of me, but basically, I agree with you and don’t tend to care much, and it doesn’t prevent me from thinking it one of the great records, whether live or “live.”

  16. bostonhistorian

    I’m guessing the list begins and ends with The Replacements’ “Shit Hits the Fans”

  17. cher, if you have any particular stories of his miserable time spent working on that Television album I would LOVE to hear them! Thanks.

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