Born just outside London in 1942, Glyn Johns was 16 years old at the dawn of rock and roll. His big break as a producer came on the Steve Miller Band's debut album, Children of the Future. He went on to engineer or produce iconic albums for the best in the business, including Abbey Road with the Beatles. Even more impressive, Johns was perhaps the only person on a given day in the studio who was entirely sober, and so he is one of the most reliable and clear-eyed insiders to tell these stories today.
In this entertaining and observant memoir, Johns takes us on a tour of his world during the heady years of the '60s. He remembers helping to get the Steve Miller Band released from jail shortly after their arrival in London; he recalls his impressions of John and Yoko during the Let It Be sessions; and he recounts running into Bob Dylan at JFK and being asked to work on a collaborative album with him, the Stones, and the Beatles, which never came to pass. Johns was there during some of the most iconic moments in rock history, including the Stones' first European tour and the Beatles' final performance on the roof of their Savile Row recording studio.
"Fans of the era will enjoy both the anecdotes and the technical descriptions of life behind the recording console." (Publishers Weekly)
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No tell all ... not at all
Not a bad book. But it's hardly enlightening. Rarely do we get any glimpses behind the scenes or any insight into the giants of rock mentioned in the title. Stories about the Stones, The Who, The Eagles and others are legendary, oft-told, and nowhere to be found in this book. It's kind of surprising that a book about rock 'n' roll can be so boring.
The title promises "A Life Recording Hits With the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Eric Clapton, the Faces…" but this book really doesn't deliver. It's a really shallow presentation of some of the most extraordinary recording artists of the 20th Century or the birthing process for their most treasured works. This book reads more like a calendar, with a few diary notes thrown in. The real revelation in this book is how bad Glyn Johns judgment seems to be. Several times, he poo-poos iconic artists (the Eagles, Clapton, Joan Armatrading), only to be saved by friends and colleagues to ask him to give them a second look.
Fine narration. Wish Simon had better subject matter.
If this was a movie, it would be some dude briskly walking past a bunch of famous people, commenting briefly on each one, and then stopping at the end to whine about how computers and radio stations ruined the music business.
Inner circle snapshots.
- Arvid Burns