Glyn Johns: Sound Man

The man who recorded the Stones, Who, Beatles, Zep...

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Thrilled by the first Led Zeppelin tapes, Glyn Johns plays them to (separately) Mick Jagger and George Harrison. They shrug, unimpressed. The first thing distinguishing this esteemed producer’s book from run-of-the-mill rock memoirs is his refreshing dismissal of “the misguided idea so many people have with regard to the effect of drugs on popular music… I have never taken drugs of any sort.”

Secondly, this means he can remember what Paul McCartney here calls “some of the most important recording sessions in rock and roll”, having engineered or produced (as well as the above) The Faces, Eagles, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton… the list is classic rock in excelsis.

He’s a relaxed raconteur, leading us through the game-changing 60s and 70s with humour and candour, though he’s too smart to offend anybody (bar possibly Yoko).

The musicians are usually off their heads, with Johns there to elevate their racket and receive scant credit. The minister of sound.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.