Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Awesomeness That Is Norman "Hurricane" Smith

Producers do not usually get much credit for the records they work on and engineers get even less (to absolutely none). One person, however, played an instrumental role during his time filling each of those occupations. His name...Norman Smith, engineer for the first Beatles records and producer of some of the greatest records of all time; even earning himself a few hits in his own write (in that he wrote and sang them).



Working with the Beatles, engineering their records until 1965’s Rubber Soul, Smith helped get the sound that set the Beatles apart from their contemporaries. Due to his exemplary work, Smith was promoted to producer. In 1967, he produced Pink Floyd’s "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and, later, "A Saucerful of Secrets" and half of "Ummagumma."

The Pretty Things created the first rock opera "S.F. Sorrow." And yes, Smith produced that too. Despite being much older (he fought in World War II), he was able to produce some of the most unique and incredible sonic masterpieces of all time, moving beyond what anybody else was doing and staying on the cutting edge.

He even had hits of his own. His voice is strange and the music is cool only in the nerdiest of ways, but the songs are earnest and fun. And he had horrible videos to boot.

And here he is on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Norman Smith’s influence can not be understated. Without him who knows how a comedy record producer and classical music lover who had never produced a pop record (George Martin) paired with a many-times-over-rejected band (The Beatles) would have fared? Smith even stuck up for Ringo when there was talk of getting another (better) drummer.

He led an amazing life and it’s time we recognize him! Hence me writing (babbling) this. There’s a bunch of stuff he worked on towards the top of the post. Check some of it out. Smith had a hand in some really different sounding records.

On March 3, 2008 Mr. Smith passed away.

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