Executive Stereo Blogs

Rod SHHHTewart

Rod Stewart had come to our studio to record the vocals for his “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy ” album. The backing tracks had been done in L.A. with his band including Jim Cregan , on guitar, Carmen Appice on drums..among others..The producer was the legendary Tom Dowd..I was flabbergasted to have the opportunity to work with this gentleman, as he had worked with a lot of my favourite artists like the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and others…I was impressed with just those credentials, (but was later to learn in life) how this lovely, soft spoken, southern gentleman had influenced the course of music in North America!

I put the 2″ tapes on our Studer A80, and Tom and I listened for a while , so he could acclimatize his ears to our studio sound. I was immediately thrilled to hear how GOOD these backing tracks sounded..They were recorded by Andy Johns in L.A., he of Led Zeppelin and The Who fame, among others, and it was a turning point in my career, as I then learned to  strive for the best quality of sound that you could get, taking the necessary time to get it, and experiment with different methods of microphone placement to get the best results, as these tracks were punchy, clear and a delight to listen to.

Rod came in the next day, larger than life..a tall, well built, confident guy, but very nice, not at all condescending, and he and I immediately got along…He knew I was young,(20), but was very helpful and made lots of comments about how “Andy” would do certain things in the studio and how I should emulate these traits.

So we started the vocal tracks, and we happened to be in our “B” studio, which was basically a 10″ by 16″ vocal booth, where the control room looked into the vocal booth through a rather small  3 by 4 foot window, set above the booth.

Rod did a few warm up takes, then started in earnest, to get some “keepers”. Tom was at the board beside me, and I would need to go out into the booth on occasion to adjust the microphone or take Rod some “supplies” or different headphones, whatever he might need. I did notice that Rod had a cough or the “sniffles”  when I went down into the vocal booth, and I brought him a box of Kleenexes. So imagine my consternation when he started “horking” up flem during breaks in the vocal recordings, and seemed to be spitting this on the side wall of the vocal booth about 3 feet away!

I couldn’t see what he was doing from the control room as the window into the booth was not able to view the whole booth, but boy did I hear it! Several times during breaks in vocal takes, I would hear a big snort, and see Rod’s head rear back and then he seemed to let fly at the side wall !!

I was not impressed, but it was ROD STEWART, and  as I was the engineer on the session, it was me and my assistant’s duty to clean up after sessions each day, so though either of us weren’t  relishing the thought of going and cleaning up gobs of spit off the walls, we went in to the vocal booth at 10 pm that evening …and it was totally pristine!

It turns out , he is quite a practical joker and was having his fun at my expense, making the rookie engineer  think he’d have to clean up the rock stars’ mess…He was faking it all along…

After about a week and a half, we did get the songs done , I had worked with the great Tom Dowd, and Rod Stewart  and the vocals he did at our studio are on that album, even though I and the studio didn’t get credit for them…something about international music taxes or ??…hhmmmphh…


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