One of the perks I loved early in my career, while working at Sounds Interchange in Toronto, was that the owner would allow me to record my friends, during off hours , usually late at night, in order to practice my recording techniques and further my slowly evolving recording engineering career.
One night I was recording my best friend, who was a drummer, as he just played along to some pre-recorded music I was piping through his headphones. I had done the setup to record him as professionally as I knew how at that point, basically copying what I had seen the senior engineers do, as far as microphone placement and such, with a mic on each drum, cymbals and hi hat and room mics. We recorded a few songs and I played the results back to him, and he was thrilled, as the sound was “big time”, recording 24 tracks on 2 inch tape, at 30 inches per second! As we were just finishing up listening to our latest tracks, the studio owner came into the control room with another gentleman, which quite surprised me, as it was about 1:30 am, and he hadn’t mentioned earlier that he was coming by. This wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, studio visits, by “would – be” clients, but usually they weren’t this late at night. The owner showed the other gentleman the recording console and tape machines, which were “state of the art” at that time, 48 input Neve console with 24 track Studer A80 tape machines, and big Westlake- JBL studio monitors, and the other assorted gear in the control room. They then proceeded out into the main studio room, and eventually made it around to the drum booth where I had my friend’s drum kit set up. The studio owner left the room for a bit and the visitor surveyed my microphone setup on my friend’s drums, and seemed suitably impressed. He then sauntered into the control room, where my friend and I had remained, and said to me, ” Nice setup on the drums, interesting mic placement on the hi hat..” Now I wasn’t sure who this guy was, but I was totally blown away by him giving me compliments on my mic placement this early in my recording career. and I said something like “Wow, thanks very much Mister …uh…what’s your name, Sir?” He replied ” Eddie.. Eddie Kramer”
Now I totally floored, because Eddie Kramer was a very famous producer/engineer known for his work with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Kiss and other HUGE recording acts, and here he was giving ME compliments on my microphone technique!!
The studio owner returned about then and he and Mr. Kramer said goodbye and left the studio. I was just beaming and said to my friend..”Eddie Kramer thinks my mic placement is nice, and my hi hat mic placement is “interesting”…we then went out to look at my “nice” mic setup, and to my horror, I noticed that the hi hat mic was turned around, pointing totally away from the hi hat and more at the ground than anything!! The clip that holds the microphone in place must have loosened off, causing the mic to swivel and end up pointing 180 degrees away from the intended spot! My heart sank, as here I was , looking like a total rookie to one of the biggest names in my chosen profession…
Anyway, I DID end up working with Eddie Kramer a few weeks later, when the Rolling Stones did their surprise gig at the El Mocambo in Toronto, and Eddie was the producer for that side of the ‘Love You Live’ album resulting from that gig. He even offered me a job at his studio in NYC , “Electric Lady”, but I didn’t want to offend my current boss and so declined..We ended up working together a few more times over the years in various studios, but I’ll always remember my first encounter with a recording engineering legend.