Beatles' Legendary Sound Engineer Geoff Emerick Dead at 72
Geoff Emerick, chief recording engineer with The Beatles and many other hitmakers, has died from a suspected heart attack. He was 72.
“Today, at around two o’clock, I was making my way back from Arizona to Los Angeles to pick up Geoff so we could transport some gold records and platinum plaques to our show in Tucson,” Emerick’s manager William Zabaleta said in a video statement.
“While on the phone, he had complications and dropped the phone. I called 911, but by the time they got there, it was too late. Geoff suffered from heart problems for a long time and had a pacemaker. … When it’s your time, it’s your time. We lost a legend and a best friend to me and a mentor.”
McCartney, who worked with Emerick long after the Beatles split, shared some memories and photos on Twitter Wednesday morning.
Ringo Starr also shared a tribute to Emerick and his family. “He was a great engineer very helpful to all of us in the studio and with him and George Martin helped us to step up on Revolver,” he wrote before sending “peace and love” to his family.
Denny Laine, longtime member of Paul McCartney & Wings, posted a tribute on Facebook. “We received very sad news today, old friend, Geoff Emerick, passed away. Our condolences to his family during this time. Geoff was a brilliant engineer and a fine man. He was enjoying his work and masterclasses around the country, connecting with the fans. Denny and Geoff had a long history and shared memories, Geoff spoke with Denny about getting back into the studio to record together again. Rest In Peace Geoff. You will be missed.”
Taking to Twitter, Julian Lennon – son of Beatle John Lennon, added, simply: “R.I.P. Geoff… One of a kind…”
Ultravox vocalist Midge Ure commented: “Geoff was Sir George Martin’s ‘right hand man’ and worked on Ultravoxs Quartet with us. A lovely, quiet, unassuming man who helped change the way music was produced. RIP…..”
Emerick was just 16 when he secured a job with EMI at London’s Abbey Road Studios. Amazingly, on just his second day at work, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr walked in to record “Love Me Do,” the Beatles’ debut label. Working as an assistant engineer alongside producer George Martin, he would help create the revolutionary sound behind some of their most iconic classics.
Their collaboration flourished as The Beatles explored the boundaries of popular music, with Emerick playing a key role in ground-breaking songs such as “Tomorrow Never Knows” — when he was asked by Lennon to make him sound like “the Dalai Lama singing on a mountain.”
Talking to told Variety in July 2017, Emerick considered “A Day in the Life” as his finest moment with the Beatles. “The night we put the orchestra on it, the whole world went from black and white to color,” he said.
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“Working with The Beatles was unlike working with any other artists,” Emerick wrote in his 2006 memoir Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles. “With them, anything and everything was possible; they had zero tolerance for the words ‘no’ or ‘can’t.’ On the other hand, if something wasn’t right, they knew it, right away, and they had no problem changing direction and moving on. There was no prevaricating; no ifs, ands, or buts; no maybes. It was either good or it wasn’t.”