Glyn Johns was only sixteen years of age when rock and roll came into being. It was ‘Children of the Future’, however, that marked his entry into limelight, a debut album by Steve Miller that he produced. He proceeded to produce or engineer iconic albums for big names within the industry, including the Beatles’ Abbey Road along with debuts of Led Zeppelin and the Eagles. Johns remained entirely sober whenever he was on studio and is his personal account of these stories is thus considered to be among the most clear-eyed and reliable.
Sound Man by Glyn Johns is an observant and entertaining memoir, in which the author takes readers on tour of his hectic world during the heady sixties’ years. It features beguiling stories to the delight of music fans from across the globe. He recalls his supporting role in securing release from jail of Steve Miller Band, shortly following arrival in London. The sound producer recounts the experience at JFK of bumping into Bob Dylan and his request for them to collaborate on an album. Johns indeed was present at the time when rock shocked the world and he captures these experiences in fine detail within this book. The first ever tour of Europe by the Rolling Stones features prominently in Sound Man, alongside the appearance at London’s Albert Hall of Jimmi Hendrix. This reminiscence includes final performance by the Beatles atop the roof of their recording studio, Savile Row.
Glyn Johns has enjoyed a prolific and fairly protracted career thus far, working over the past two decades with Crosby, Emmylou Harris, Stills & Nash, Band of Horses, Linda Ronstadt and very recently Ryan Adams. His autobiography, Sound Man, offers firsthand glimpse into music-making art. It reveals how the industry, just as musicians themselves has undergone changes since the freewheeling early years when rock and rock took center stage.
That said the book has some letdowns. Johns opts to dish out information in bits, employing a summary approach on different interesting portions of his personal story. Even though he mentions all the artists of his day, he falls short of providing a number of important details as expected. It seems that he skimps through his discography somewhat in straightforward manner. Mentioning the where and when of recording, the author remains fairly complimenting of his comrades, but fails to evoke the reader’s emotion during events of the day.
Fair enough, Sound Man by Glyn Johns does strike as an enjoyable read. His description of the early days is quite intriguing. One certainly gets captivated by the story of how the author fell lucky during his first ever gig on studio. He expresses gratitude for all that has taken place following that experience, which probably is just one of the many reasons he appears so guarded on information. The engineer/producer is represented well at the top of musical listings and is renowned for providing clean and no-frills sound. His sounds offer a true-to-life experience when played indoors or wherever they are heard. Publishing an autobiography should consequently strike some sparks in the hearts of music enthusiasts and critics alike.