ON RECORDING BOWIE TO BECK
By MITCH GALLAGHER
It almost sounds like a feel-good Hollywood movie: A young man gets
hired by Abbey Road Studios at age 16.
After moving up through the ranks, his
first session as an assistant engineer is A
Hard Day’s Night by an English group
known as The Beatles. That same young
man’s debut session as first engineer is
Magical Mystery Tour. He then works on
the White Album and subsequently goes
on to record seminal albums with the
biggest artists from the ’60s, ’70s, ‘80s,
and beyond—Jeff Beck, Dixie Dregs,
Supertramp, Elton John, Missing Persons,
John Lennon, George Harrison, The Tubes,
Stanley Clarke, Mahavishnu Orchestra,
Pink Floyd, Devo, Lou Reed, Kansas,
Billy Cobham, David Bowie, and many,
many more. Definitely a dream career, yet
also the true-life story of record producer/
recording engineer, Ken Scott.
Along the way, Scott worked with a
who’s who of guitarists: Beck, Steve Morse,
John McLaughlin, Tommy Bolin, Mick
Ronson, David Gilmour, George Harrison,
Eric Clapton, just to name a few, as well
as legendary drummers (Rod Morgenstein,
Ringo Starr, Terry Bozzio), and bass players (Clarke, Andy West, Patrick O’Hearn).
Along the way he earned a CLIO Award
for recording “I’d Like to Buy the World a
Coke” and two Grammy nominations, but
has yet to win a Grammy.
Scott remains a vital force in the industry today, recording and producing, as well
as releasing a virtual drum library, Epik
Drums—A Ken Scott Collection, featuring five stellar drummers from his past,
as well as Epik Drums EDU, a DVD set
documenting his approach to recording
and mixing drums. His latest effort is his
just-released autobiography, Abbey Road to
Ziggy Stardust. Ken generously gave Premier
Guitar an extended interview in the middle
Producer Ken Scott works hard at the mixing board circa 1968 while working on the Beatles’ White
Album at Abbey Road Studios. Photo courtesy of Ken Scott
of a long day of book promotion, discussing how he approaches making music as a
producer, and, of course, his approach to
recording all those killer guitarists.
Abbey Road the following Monday. Like
I say, someone upstairs was looking after
You actually started your career at Abbey
Road Studios at age 16?
That is absolutely correct, yeah.
What was your first job there?
Tape library—just getting tapes, checking
in tapes, and making sure they were in the
right cutting room or studio.
How did you land that job?
Someone upstairs was looking after me! I
got fed up with school. One Friday evening I wrote letters to about 10 places.
All those letters were mailed on Saturday;
I heard back from EMI [parent company
of Abbey Road] on Tuesday, had an interview on Wednesday, and was accepted on
Friday. I left school that day and started at
How did you move from that into the
engineering side of things?
Via second [assistant] engineering, doing
that for a few years. My very first session
as a second engineer was on side two of
A Hard Day’s Night and I carried on with
them [The Beatles] all the way through
to Rubber Soul. Then I was promoted to
mastering—disc cutting. EMI felt it was