The Rolling Stones
The Woodstock 1969 Live LP set
In our segment, Worlds Greatest Sound Engineers we feature the man behind the console for some of these legendary bands’ greatest hits, Eddie Kramer.
Kramer was at the core of the rock music revolution during the 60s and 70s. He engineered all four albums released during Hendrix’s life, as well as five Led Zeppelin studio albums. He is known to be the sonic confidant of a number of great artists through the decades.
Kramer has worked with the likes of The Kinks, Traffic, John Mayall, The Small Faces, Peter Frampton, Kiss, Derek, and the Dominos, Mott The Hoople, John McLaughlin, Buddy Guy, Joe Cocker, Carly Simon, David Bowie, Carlos Santana, etc.,
However, he is not only regarded as one of the greatest engineers and music producers but also as an innovator par excellence.
From a tea boy to one of the greatest
South Africa-born Kramer moved to London in 1960 and later began his career in advertising before moving towards music. He wanted to combine his love of electronics with music. Certainly, working in recording studios would be the best way to do that. His first music job was at Advison Sound Studios, a mono recording studio, as a tea boy.
“You keep your mouth shut and ears open and hopefully learn something. There were no schools for audio engineers back then you just learned by watching how people worked.”
– Eddie Kramer
From Advison Sound Studios, Kramer moved to Pye Studios where he would meet his mentor, Bob Auger. It was at this three-track studio he learned most tricks of the trade.
In late 1963 Kramer went independent and started his own demo studio called KPS Sound Studios which was eventually taken over by Regent Sound. Here he would record demos for The Kinks and a lot of Blues bands also this was the studio where the Rolling Stones recorded their demos and also their first record.
After leaving Regent Sounds, Kramer started working under his new mentor Keith Grant at Olympic Studios. This is the place, according to Kramer, where the real magic in his career started.
The Jimi Hendrix – Eddie Kramer Association
In 1967, Kramer got a call from the studio’s manager who said a man with a strange hairdo wanted to record some songs. The man was Jimi Hendrix. This call laid the groundwork for a long-time association between the two stalwarts.
“There’s a sense of spontaneity, and when things went wrong – especially a guy like Jimi – you’d play a wrong chord or something and laugh it off. He was tough on himself, but when Jimi made a mistake, he’d turn it into something cool! That’s the true test of a great artist.”
– Eddie Kramer
He engineered Jimi Hendrix’s epic ‘Electric Lady Land’ LP in 1968. Kramer also designed Hendrix’s ‘Electric Lady Studios’ and served as its director from 1970-74. In 1999 Kramer won the Grammy Award for his audio production for the video Jimi Hendrix’s live album ‘Band of Gypsies.’
By 1973 Kramer had worked with The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Zeppelin, Johnny Winter, Humble Pie, etc. He was already regarded as one of the best and most experienced engineers and producers. Yet he recorded a demo tape for an aspiring band who were lost musically. Under Kramer’s guidance, the band went on to become of one the legendary heavy rock acts named KISS.
In 1969, he engineered Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, a three-LP live album of the famous festival.
On the other hand, Kramer’s most known works are The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour highlights All You Need Is Love and Baby You’re a Rich Man. He engineered five Led Zeppelin albums, including Led Zeppelin II and Physical Graffiti.
Through the ’80s, Kramer engineered plenty of heavy metal and rock acts. Whitesnake, Pretty Maids, Fastway, Alcatrazz featuring Steve Vai and Graham Bonnet, and Anthrax (Among the Living) were some.
In 2002, Kramer won another Grammy. It was for engineering the single entitled The Game of Love (Carlos Santana, Michelle Branch). Interestingly, it also won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Over the past few, Kramer has focused most of his efforts on developing studio technology and signature gear for musicians, including helping design software plug-ins and guitar effects pedals.
Did you know?
Eddie Kramer is an avid photographer and his works have been exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries.