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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Sep-15 > INDUSTRY GURU TONY VISCONTI


Of all the towering figures in music production history, there is no-one quite as innovative (and unpredictable) as Tony Visconti, from his early days working with a young Marc Bolan to the career-defining highs with David Bowie, Visconti has always been keen to push the boundaries of what is possible in the studio. Andy Price sits down for a chat with a bona fide production legend…

Tony Visconti’s name is one of those that is now enshrined in the annals of history. Since the late sixties, he has been involved in music making and production, working with some of the most important artists of their respective generations. T-Rex, Iggy Pop, U2, Morrissey, The Moody Blues… the list of artists whose work Visconti’s production has enriched goes on and on.

Perhaps the work he’ll forever be celebrated the most for, though, is the revered records he’s produced for David Bowie, including his most recent – 2013’s stealth surprise The Next Day. Visconti met Bowie at a young age, working on his Space Oddity LP – he also provided bass for his early band. As Bowie’s talents and reputation grew, Visconti became one of his closest musical confidants and the producer of the bulk of Bowie’s greatest material, including Aladdin Sane,Scary Monsters and the universally acclaimed Berlin Trilogy. Recently, Visconti has been back out on the road, alongside former Spider From Mars Woody Woodmansey and Heaven 17 vocalist Glenn Gregory in the band Holy Holy, performing the (previously never played live) Bowie album The Man Who Sold The World in its entirety. We spoke to Visconti about his production philosophy, working on some of those legendary records and what it’s like to be back on the road again…

MusicTech: How did you first get into music, and then into record production?

Tony Visconti: I learned to play ukulele when I was five – my family was a musical one. I spent the next 15 or so years doing almost every conceivable gig you could get as a young man in New York City, including recording sessions. I was totally fascinated by how records were made. When I heard people like Les Paul and Mary Ford, and then The Beatles’ Revolver album, I knew there was an even deeper alchemy involved and I was hooked, I had to learn recording technology. A chance meeting with producer Denny Cordell by a water cooler in a NY office led him to hiring me for my music abilities for his assistant in London. That happening was like an unbelievable film script. It was in London where I learned my craft.

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About MusicTech

It’s celebration time here at MusicTech as we reveal our 150th issue! quite a milestone we’re sure you’ll agree. What an issue we’ve got to celebrate. First we’ve compiled the 150 best gear, studios, quotes and tips from the last 150 issues of MusicTech and we sit down for chats with studio legends Tony Visconti and Bob Clearmountain. We’ve also got a whole host of tutorials, reviews and a brand new feature looking at the six ways to save time when recording.