Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin Producer/Engineer Andy Johns Dead at 61
Veteran producer/engineer Andy Jones, who worked on some of the most acclaimed albums in the history of rock, died Sunday of unknown causes. He was 61.
British-born Johns' list of credits includes titles by the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen and others. Prior to being hospitalized last week, he was working on a forthcoming project by L.A. Guns guitarist Stacey Blades.
Although no cause of death was available as of this writing, Blades -- who was the last artist to work with Johns -- said, "His body just gave out. It was his time to go, I guess. He was battling health issues for about eight months. Andy and I were extremely close. I am just gutted today of his passing."
While in his teens, Johns dropped his dreams of rock stardom and opted to follow the footsteps of his older brother Glyn Johns, whose credits include work with The Who, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Eagles. One of his first gigs was serving as the second engineer on the Jimi Hendrix Experience's Axis: Bold as Love. Yet it was albums by Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones that made him a legend.
During the late '60s, Johns began his association with the Stones and went on to work on Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main St., and Goats Head Soup, often using the Stones mobile recording truck that allowed the band to record in houses, rather than studios. Such was the case on Sticky Fingers, which was recorded at Mick Jagger's Stargroves estate. "It was a lot more fun than being in a studio," Johns told me. "We were all living together and we used different rooms for different sounds. There was a very communal vibe." Different rooms of the house were used to capture specific sounds. For example, for "Bitch," saxophone players Jim Price and Bobby Keys "were recorded from the cloak room, because it had a really good sound," Johns said.
On Exile, recorded at Keith Richards' mansion, things got a bit darker. "There were a lot of drugs," he told me. "But there was also a lot of fun. We had a blast. We were living in the South of France, everyone had plenty of money, everyone was young, and the Stones were making amazing music at the height of their powers."
He also worked with Led Zeppelin on Zeppelin's II, III, IV, Houses of The Holy and Physical Graffiti, often using the Rolling Stones mobile unit.
After moving to Los Angeles, Johns went on to work with Ozzy Osbourne, Joe Satriani and Van Halen. Some of his more recent credits include Chickenfoot's 2009 self-titled debut and the Steve Miller Band's 2010 album Bingo!
Former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony commented on John's death on his website. The pair had worked together on albums by Van Halen and Anthony's current band, Chickenfoot.
Anthony wrote, "Just heard about the passing of my friend and producer, Andy Johns. Words cannot express my sadness upon hearing this. Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing and working with Andy, you know what I'm saying. I loved you brother."
Artists including Queen's Brian May, Slash, Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith, former Go-Go's bassist Kathy Valentine and Peter Frampton also offered their respects via Twitter.