producer l mixer l engineer
photo: © Brian Peterson 2011
Rob Putnam/Music Connecction Interview here
producer is only as good as the music he helps create. By this standard,
Eddie Kramer must be regarded as a legend. In the course of a production
and engineering career that has spanned 30 years, Kramer has been
behind the boards for the biggest names in music - The Rolling Stones,
Traffic, Peter Frampton, Carly Simon, Joe Cocker, Johnny Winter,
David Bowie, The Beatles and Bad Company, just to name a few. But
he is perhaps best known for three long-term associations in which
he not only helped create some of the most important music of the
rock era, but also set standards for rock production that set him
aside as a true innovator. His work with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin
and Kiss produced music which continues to influence rock musicians
and producers today.
Born in South
Africa Eddie studied classical piano, cello and violin at the prestigious
South African college of Music. At a young age his interest switched
from classical to jazz. He moved to England at 19, where he recorded
local jazz groups in a home-based studio and installed hi-fi equipment
as a hobby. In 1964 he joined Pye Studios, and recorded a variety
of artists including Sammy Davis Jr., Petula Clark and The Kinks,
demonstrating a versatility, which Eddie possesses to this day.
In 1965 Kramer
established the sophisticated KPS Studios, which, despite its rudimentary
2-track recording capability, gained such a reputation that in less
than a year they were bought out by Regent Sound. They enlisted
Kramer to oversee construction of their new four-track studio.
stop was Olympic Sound studios where he developed a fantastic reputation
among the bands of the time - Small Faces, The Beatles, The Rolling
Stones and Jimi Hendrix among others. His association with Hendrix
was the most powerful one, and the one that lasted the longest.
Kramer engineered every Hendrix album from "Are You Experienced"
to "Cry of Love," and after Hendrix's death co-produced
the posthumous releases "War Heroes," "Rainbow Bridge"
and "Hendrix in the West."
In 1968 Kramer
came to work at the Record Plant in NYC, engineering Hendrix's "Electric
Ladyland" LP, and also worked with Vanilla Fudge, Joe Cocker
and NRBQ. In 1969 Kramer went independent, producing Johnny Winter's
first LP and engineering Led Zeppelin II, acknowledged by fans and
critics alike as perhaps that bands most influential work. This
led to work on five albums with the band, half of their overall
output. This pairing provided some historic moments. As Eddie tells
of one particular session, "Zep II was mixed over a two day
period in New York, and at one point there was bleed-through of
a previously recorded vocal in the recording of "Whole Lotta
Love." It was the middle part where Robert (Plant) screams
"Wo-man. You need it." Since we couldn't re-record at
that point, I just threw some echo on it to see how it would sound
and Jimmy (Page) said "Great! Just leave it."
afterwards, Kramer was recruited to record the Woodstock festival
for both the album and the movie. "I arrived at dawn and was
struck by the sight of the sun rising over what appeared to be the
stage. The show was scheduled to start by lunchtime. That panic
pretty much set the tone for the entire concert. All of us in the
crew had Vitamin B shots, so that we would be able to stay up for
three days. The whole thing was recorded under the most primitive
of conditions, but we got it done," says Kramer. "Woodstock
was 3 days of hell and drugs".
Kramer as one of the most important live music producers of the
rock era, starting a series of artists recorded live which would
ultimately include Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, John Mayall,
The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, Joe Cocker, Curtis Mayfield,
Santana, David Bowie, Derek and The Dominoes and others.
quickly hired Kramer to build a state of the art studio. After 13
months and a million dollars, Electric Lady Studios was complete,
and Kramer served as its Director of Engineering from 1970 - 1974.
During this time, in addition to producing the posthumous Hendrix
records, Kramer produced records by Carly Simon, Sha Na Na and Peter
Frampton, and engineered albums for artists as diverse as Dionne
Warwick and Lena Horne plus David Bowie's "Live at the Spectrum"
and "Young Americans" which included "Fame"
with John Lennon and Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy"
and "Physical Graffiti," among others.
In 1975 Kramer
left Electric Lady Studios to work with the No. 1 band in America
at the time and produced "Kiss Alive." In addition to
producing "Rock and Roll Over," "Love Gun,"
"Alive II" and "Double Platinum" for Kiss, Kramer
worked on Ace Frehley's first solo record, Led Zeppelin's "The
Song Remains the Same" (the album and the movie), Peter Frampton's
historic "Comes Alive" LP, and The Rolling Stones "Love
Ya Live," three of the most popular live albums of the rock
off the 80's producing bands like Fastway and his work with Anthrax
on "Among The Living" and "I'm The Man" helped
them cross-over to a more mainstream rock audience, and helped ignite
a career that has sold over seven million records. His work with
Twisted Sister on "Under The Blade" helped their career
take off, and after producing The Scream, Motley Crue snatched their
singer up. Other rock bands he has worked with since include Angel,
Ace Frehley, Alcatraz (with Steve Vai), Raven, Loudness, Triumph,
Robin Trower, Havana Black and Whitesnake, and he has also done
work in fields as diverse as country and classical, recording acts
such as the Kentucky Headhunters and guitarist John Williams.
produced the Hendrix tribute album, "Stone Free," for
Warner Bros., which features tracks from artists such as: The Cure,
Eric Clapton, The Spin Doctors, Buddy Guy, Seal/Jeff Beck, Slash/Paul
Rodgers, P.M. Dawn, Body Count/Ice Tea. The album has to date generated
approximately $1,000,000 in charitable funds which have been donated
in Jimi Hendrix's name to the United Negro College Fund as musical
scholarships to The Berklee School of Music, The Julliard School
of Music and The Dance Theatre of Harlem, etc.
Kramer has co-authored
with Hendrix historian John McDermott, "HENDRIX: SETTING THE
RECORD STRAIGHT," which is the definitive Hendrix biography,
told entirely by Jimi's closest associates. The book is now in its
sixth U.S. printing (translated into 4 languages) and was on the
best seller list in the U.K. Eddie was a contributing author to
"Jimi Hendrix Sessions," which was published in 1995 by
Little Brown and chronicles the creative process of Jimi Hendrix
in the studio. He is currently in the process of compiling a photographic
book called, "FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLASS," which
features his photographic portraits, candid shots and recollections
about the artists and sessions that he worked with during the 60's
Guy's album "Slippin' In" (Silvertone Records), produced
and engineered by Kramer, received a '96 Grammy Award for "Best
Contemporary Blues Record" and a W.C. Handy Blues Foundation
award, "Album of the Year" 1995. "Buddy Guy and The
Saturday Nite Live Band with G.E. Smith," a "live album"
and documentary film, were released in the summer of '96 (Silvertone
"In From The Storm," (BMG Records), a compilation of Hendrix
tracks featuring: Sting, Steve Vai, Carlos Santana, Robben Ford,
Tony Williams, Stanley Clarke, etc., with The London Metropolitan
Orchestra, which was released in '95. The Sting track was nominated
for a Grammy Award in 1996.
'96, Eddie traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he and architect
John Storyk of the Walters/Storyk design group tested and implemented
a new recording studio, "Studio AR." In March of '96 he
completed a promotional tour of South Africa for Shure Bros, Lexicon,
BMG Records, Little Brown, (Publisher of Hendrix Sessions) and the
Adventures in Modern Recording Video. This was the first time in
35 years that Eddie had returned to his home country and he received
much press, radio and TV coverage. Also in March '96, Eddie recorded
an up and coming British band "Stone" in London. In April
'96, Eddie began working with Paul Rodgers (Bad Company and The
Firm) on a solo album project, which was released in the fall of
'96. During June '96, Eddie produced 5 new tracks for a John McEnroe
album. In July of '96 he produced the Out of Control Blues Band
for an independent label. The band played the Newport Jazz Festival
in the summer of '96.
During '97 Eddie
worked on tracks for a new Big Sugar Album for A&M Canada. He
has produced a compilation album featuring the Flying Burrito Bros,
The Wrecking Crew, Eric Schenkman (ex-Spin Doctors) and Carl Verhyen.
Eddie also completed producing Eric Schenkman (ex-lead guitarist
of the Spin Doctors) and his band, "THE CHRYSALIDS."
a documentary for the BBC entitled "The Making of Electric
Lady Land" featuring interviews with Chas Chandler, Mitch Mitchell,
Noel Redding, Buddy Miles and Jack Cassidy which aired on VH1 in
Since 1997 he
has remastered all of the Jimi Hendrix albums from the original
master tapes for Experience Hendrix/MCA. In addition, all reissued
albums have been released on 180 gram VINYL with the original artwork
and gatefold covers. Eddie continues to work with the Hendrix family
on new albums - film and video projects.
he completed mixing a new documentary film about the Band of Gypsys
including never before seen footage from the New Year's Show at
the Fillmore East. During that year a DVD entitled "Band Of
Gypsies" was released in addition to a CD entitled "Live
at the Filmore East."
the latter part of '98 Eddie produced an album with Scott Holt (Buddy
Guy's protégé guitar player) featuring Billy Cox and
Mitch Mitchell (ex Experience) and Double Trouble (ex Stevie Ray
Vaughn). This album was released on Mystic Records (WEA distribution)
in the fall of '99. Also during '98 Eddie produced an album with
Vince Converse, a young Texas blues guitarist signed to Mystic Records.
This album was released in May '99.
In '99 Eddie
completed the definitive version of Jimi Hendrix's historical performance
at Woodstock, which now contains 30 minutes of previously unreleased
material. For the closing ceremonies at the '99 Woodstock Festival,
Eddie contributed the audio to what was a monumental visual presentation
of Jimi's performance of Star Spangled Banner. Eddie completed "The
Jimi Hendrix Experience," a 4-cd box set, described by Rolling
Stone as "The Rolls Royce of Box Sets." This was released
in September 2000 and was certified gold.
the Wilson Pickett record on Rounder Records (first new release
in twelve years) and produced an album with an all girl punk rock
band from Nashville called "Fair Verona" on indie lable
I. V. Records. Eddie produced an album by a band of young graduates
from the University of Miami -- The Gabe Dixon Band. Their album
was released on Warner Records in 2000. Gabe Dixon recently played
all of the keyboard parts on Paul McCartney's most recent album.
mixing Jimi Hendrix' 1970 performance at the Isle of Wight in 5.1
surround. Jimi's full 2-hour performance has been restored, plus
10-minutes of new documentary footage. This DVD was released in
2002, entitled "Blue Wild Angel." The video went gold.
part of Eddie's foray into the world of 5.1 film mixing, he has
managed to do the following:
5.1 surround mix and restoration of the classic movie, "Monterey
Pop," featuring performances by Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding,
The Who, and Janis Joplin. The DVD box set was released in the fall
mix of a movie entitled "Only The Strong Survive," for
D.A. Penne Baker/Miramax Films, featuring performances by Wilson
Pickett and Mary Wilson.
A movie project
entitled "THE FESTIVAL EXPRESS" which features performances
by Janis Joplin, The Band, The Grateful Dead, Buddy Guy, Traffic,
etc. The movie was finally completed in 2003 and was presented at
the Toronto Film Festival to great acclaim. It will be released
by Miramax in the spring of 2004.
Live," a 5.1 surround mix of Indigenous's live performances
in Denver and at the House of Blues in Chicago that was released
Hendrix' legendary performance "Jimi Plays Berkeley,"
in 5.1 surround sound at N.R.G. Studios featuring some of Jimi's
most stunning live performances captured on film. It was released
2003 Eddie mixed a special version of twelve Jimi Hendrix songs
for the new guitar port from Line 6. Eddie restored soundtracks
for two DVD's entitled "American Folk Blues Festival,"
featuring performances by legendary blues players, Muddy Waters,
Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon, Otis Rush, and John Lee Hooker,
which was just nominated for a Grammy.
Eddie just mixed
tracks for a Jimi Hendrix tribute album entitled, "Power of
Soul," featuring performances by Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana,
Stevie Ray Vaughn and Sting.
Eddie has been working with Kyle Cook (the lead guitarist for Matchbox
20) on a solo project called "The New Left." Also, Kyle
Cook created a suite of film music involving a 60-piece orchestra
which Eddie produced and engineered.
as engineer on the 2002 Grammy winning recording of Carlos Santana
and Michelle Branch single, "The Game of Love." And in
the beginning of 2003, Eddie worked with Lauren Hill on a new album
that is yet to be released.
Eddie met a
band from Norway, "Hangface" at South by Southwest in
2002 and brought them to the U.S. to record their debut album at
N.R.G. Studios in Los Angeles. The album was completed in December
2003 and the band has been showcasing both in L.A. and in NYC for
a record deal.
Eddie formed a new company, Kramer Archives, Inc., featuring his
photographs of the artists he worked with during 1967-1972, including
Hendrix, Stones, Zeppelin, Small Faces, Traffic, Johnny Winter,
Joe Cocker, Frank Zappa, etc. The photographs were installed at
Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame in 2002 and VH1 Times Square headquarters
in 2001. Eddie's photographs may be viewed at www.kramerarchives.com
was featured on an episode of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,"
in which he gives a framed limited edition print of Jimi Hendrix
to the episodes "Straight Guy."
Eddie is going to have a nervous breakdown and retire to the Fiji
Islands to complete his memoirs entitled, "From the Other Side
of the Glass."
The beat keeps