Sound Man

Sound Man

A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles , Eric Clapton, The Faces . . .

Additional Formats
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780399163876
  • 336 Pages
  • Blue Rider Press
  • Adult


Born just outside London in 1942, Glyn Johns was sixteen 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, and he went on to engineer or produce iconic albums for the best in the business: Abbey Road with the Beatles, Led Zeppelin’s and the Eagles’ debuts, Who’s Next by the Who, and many others. 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 sixties, with beguiling stories that will delight music fans the world over: 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, Jimi Hendrix’s appearance at Albert Hall in London, and the Beatles’ final performance on the roof of their Savile Row recording studio.

Johns’s career has been long and prolific, and he’s still at it—over the last two decades he has worked with Crosby, Stills & Nash; Emmylou Harris; Linda Ronstadt; Band of Horses; and, most recently, Ryan Adams. Sound Man provides a firsthand glimpse into the art of making music and reveals how the industry—like musicians themselves—has changed since those freewheeling first years of rock and roll.


“One of the most fascinating behind-the-scenes careers in the history of popular music….a winding but wonderfully detailed account from the control room, recalling all the highs and lows of one of rock’s most fabled eras… Johns has turned his day job into a memoir colored with warmth, humor, and intimate detail.”
—AV Club

“Glyn Johns was there. He was there at some of the most important recording sessions in Rock and Roll. Reading his book, you are standing beside him as he sets up the studio in readiness for the arrival of groups like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. For me it is a fantastic romp through the pages of Rock and Roll history.”
—Sir Paul McCartney
“Glyn Johns has been a very important person in my recording life (and also his brother Andy).  Glyn was the first recording engineer who helped me to understand recording and through that he was very supportive in introducing me to a lot of sessions with important people such as Ben Sidren, Leon Russell, Ronnie Lane, Pete Townshend and Howling Wolf. This together, of course, with many of the great recordings he did with us. He is one of the best.”
—Charlie Watts
Sound Man will make readers aware of the many sides of Glyn Johns, a giant of a man and one of my best friends from the moment we met in 1963 to present day. Apart from his genius behind the faders and success as the producer of myriad hits, his humor comes through here, together with his unfailing desire to do the very best work he could in the face of some frighteningly egotistical artists.”—Bill Wyman
“If you remember the sixties then you probably weren’t there, unless of course your name is Glyn Johns. Sound Man is an intimate, humorous journey through the corridors of the music industry, as told by one of the greatest record producers of all time. I’m proud to be mentioned here and there, and to have worked with Johns on so many memorable occasions. A great read!”
—Eric Clapton
“Glyn Johns was the most sought after sound engineer at the time when the recording industry was just exploding in the early 60s in London. He soon became the first choice of the artists who wrote their own songs and wanted a producer who could create for them a great sound for their recordings. He was always a strong and direct influence on the talent he worked with, and his records sounded brilliant! He soon became one of the very few truly great record producers and remained so over the last fifty years. Reading Sound Man reminded me of just how many incredible people he worked with and how many great iconic records he made. It’s fantastic reading.”
—Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records
Sound Man opens with a declaration: A record producer has to have an opinion and the ego to express it more convincingly than anyone else. So Glyn Johns has stood his ground with a few big-headed rock stars? I must be the exception. I’ve only had transcendental moments in the studio with Johns. Returning to the control room after a studio take I often felt like running: the joy of hearing what Johns had created out of the glue-and-string that was The Who was like a drug. He is an artist himself of supreme talent and experience.”
—Pete Townshend

Sound Man is filled with remarkable stories that only Johns can tell: vouching for the Steve Miller band in London after a hash-filled fruitcake was found in their luggage; nervously going through customs with the Rolling Stones knowing Brian Jones was carrying Mick Jagger’s stash… the detail with which he recounts his life’s work is incredible.”
Los Angeles Magazine

 “Johns’ account of a long and productive career is an entertaining slice of rock history.” —Booklist
“An engaging and immensely enjoyable chronicle of the life of a person who was repeatedly at ground zero of many classic moments in rock ‘n’ roll history.” —Nashville Scene
“Glyn Johns is a walking rebuttal to the maxim that if you remember the 1960s, you weren’t there. He was there – overseeing the Rolling Stones’ first recording session, arranging the Beatles’ rooftop concert, reeling from the first blast of Led Zeppelin – and he remembers everything.” —The Associated Press

“Johns is content to let his achievements speak for themselves, from creating rich sonic space on Who’s Next to rescuing the Clash’s Combat Rock from double-album bloat. Perhaps the most revealing part of Sound Man isn’t the stories that Johns tells, but how he tells them.” —Rebeat Magazine

“There are many more stories like these in Sound Man that fans of the Stones, The Who, The Beatles, Joan Armatrading, the Eagles, Georgie Fame, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Gram Parsons, even Laurence Olivier will find fascinating. If you’re still hankering for a nifty Christmas gift, either for yourself or a music lover in your circle, picking up this book would be the best thing you did all year.” —Glide Magazine

“There have been a bevy of autobiographies from many of the great legacy artists: Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Ian McLagan, Neil Young, Ray Davies, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash and Bob Dylan….Glyn Johns worked with all these artists, and his book can stand tall among them.” —Entertainment Today
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