Remembering Al Schmitt, 20-Time GRAMMY-Winning Producer, Engineer And Recording Academy P&E Wing Co-Founder

Al Schmitt at the 56th GRAMMY Awards show

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images


Remembering Al Schmitt, 20-Time GRAMMY-Winning Producer, Engineer And Recording Academy P&E Wing Co-Founder

Producer and engineer Al Schmitt earned 20 GRAMMY Awards throughout his career and co-founded the Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing

GRAMMYs/Apr 28, 2021 - 01:28 am

Al Schmitt, the 20-time GRAMMY-winning producer and engineer behind music from Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Diana Krall, and more, has died. He was 91.

Schmitt's death on the afternoon of April 26 was confirmed by his family.

"The world has lost a much loved and respected extraordinary individual, who led an extraordinary life," the family shared in a statement to "The most honored and awarded recording producer/engineer of all time, his parting words at any speaking engagement were, 'Please be kind to all living things.'" 

Chris Finney, Dr. John and Al Schmitt at a P&E Wing event in New Orleans 

The man born Albert Harry Schmitt on April 17, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, was an influential figure and leader inside and outside the studio. He had 36 GRAMMY nominations and took home 20 GRAMMY Awards throughout his career —winning GRAMMYs in six consecutive decades since his first win in 1963 for Mancini's Hatari soundtrack.

His last win in 2014 was in the Best Surround Sound Album category for Paul McCartney's Live Kisses. In 2006, the Recording Academy honored him with a Trustees Award.  

Outside of the studio, Schmitt helped found the Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing. In 2021, the P&E Wing celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy Chair & Interim President/CEO, honored Schmitt's legacy and work for the Recording Academy.

"An ingenious producer and engineer, a 20-time GRAMMY® winner, a Recording Academy® Trustees Award recipient, and so much more, Al Schmitt was a true legend," Mason said. "His incredible work in the studio brought us iconic pieces of work from many artists, including Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, and Diana Krall, leaving an indelible mark on the recording industry. We are forever grateful for his contributions as a founding member of the Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing® and to the art and craft of recorded music. We send our love and condolences to his family, friends and collaborators."

His friends and family will remember Schmitt for love, friendship and legacy.  

"Al will be sorely missed. He was a man who loved deeply, and the friendships, love and admiration he received in return enriched his life and truly mattered to him. A light has dimmed in the world, but we all learned so much from him in his time on earth, and are so very grateful to have known him," his family said.

Schmitt is survived by his wife Lisa, his five children, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

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Remembering Poco's Rusty Young, A Country-Rock Trailblazer

Rusty Young 

Photo: Icon and Image/Getty Images


Remembering Poco's Rusty Young, A Country-Rock Trailblazer

Rusty Young "was an innovator on the steel guitar and carried the name Poco on for more than 50 years," Poco co-founder Richie Furay said

GRAMMYs/Apr 20, 2021 - 01:08 am

Rusty Young, one of country-rock's originators and founder of the GRAMMY-nominated band Poco, has died. He was 75.

Young's death on April 14 was confirmed by his publicist, Mike Farley, who said he succumbed to a heart attack. 

In a statement to Variety, Poco co-founder Richie Furay said he was saddened by the loss: "Our friendship was real and he will be deeply missed. My prayers are with his wife, Mary, and his children Sara and Will."

As a member of Poco, Young's love for country music and ability to play several country instruments helped architect what today is known as country-rock. Poco, founded in 1968, was formed after Furay's former band Buffalo Springfield, which Neil Young was a part of, split. Furay met Young and bassist/producer Jim Messina after working together on Furay's  "Kind Woman," which meshed elements of country and rock.

"Richie was a rock and roll guy, Jimmy’s a brilliant technician and guitar player, and I played all these country instruments," Young told Spotlight Central in 2018. 

Poco, like Buffalo Springfield, was among the first bands to bring the country and rock sounds together.

"Our concept was to take rock and roll lyrics and melodies, chord changes, and add country instruments as the color around them, because I play steel guitar and banjo and mandolin, all the country instruments I could add that color and Jimmy played that James Burton, Ricky Nelson-kind of guitar," Young told Rock Cellar Magazine in 2017. "We could use this kind of country colors palette to choose from, and have it be rock and roll."

Born in Long Beach, California on Feb. 23, 1946, Norman Russell Young was raised in Colorado. Growing up, Young was surrounded by music; His grandparents were musicians and his parents would take him to country music bars. At the age of six, he began playing the pedal steel guitar.

"I think it’s a beautiful instrument! And I went on to learn to play a lot of other instruments, but I’ve always played lap steel and I still really enjoy it," he told Spotlight Central

"He was an innovator on the steel guitar and carried the name Poco on for more than 50 years," Furay said in a statement.

Furay and Messina ultimately left the band, but Young remained a member of Poco for more than five decades and even became one of its vocalists. Young wrote and sang the band's biggest hit "Crazy Love," released in 1979—The song reached No. 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart. The band also earned a GRAMMY nomination years later in 1982 for their performance of "Feudin' (Track)."

Young is survived by his wife, Mary, and his children, Sara and Will.

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EDC 2019: Alison Wonderland, TOKiMONSTA, Deadmau5, Above & Beyond, Tiësto, More

Alison Wonderland

Photo: Mauricio Santana/Getty Images


EDC 2019: Alison Wonderland, TOKiMONSTA, Deadmau5, Above & Beyond, Tiësto, More

The world-renowned EDM fest has released the lit roster of over 240 artists for its 23rd annual event, set to return to its ninth year in Las Vegas from May 17–19

GRAMMYs/Mar 28, 2019 - 04:55 am

Today Insomniac, which hosts the now-global Electric Daisy Carnival and other major EDM events, announced the highly anticipated lineup for its flagship Las Vegas fest, set to take place May 17–19 this year. EDC 2019 is positively stacked, featuring GRAMMY winners Diplo, David Guetta and Tiësto, plus GRAMMY nominees TOKiMONSTA, Paul Oakenfold, Deadmau5, Above & Beyond and Kaskade.

Deadmau5 will be making his first return to the fest since 2010, bringing his new "Cube 3.0" stage setup, and Guetta will be back for his first time since the 2012 event. Australian singer/songwriter DJ/producer extraordinaire Alison Wonderland, plus GRAMMY-nominated rave icons Steve Aoki, Armin van Buuren will also bring fire to the three-day event.

Unlike a typical music festival lineup, EDC lists theirs alphabetically by day, giving way to a treasure hunt to the many gems across the lines of names. Underground techno queens Charlotte De Witte, ANNA and Amelie Lens will all perform at the event, which has eight(!) stages, along with fellow techno heavy-hitter Adam Beyer.

South African DJ/producer and underground house legend Black Coffee will also perform, as well as fellow house heavyweights Green Velvet, Patrick Topping and GRAMMY nominee Eric Prydz. Green Velvet will be offering two sets, one as Get Real, his project with Detroit legend Claude VonStroke.

Several artists will be hopping on the decks together, including Topping, who will be doing a B2B set (a.k.a. back-to-back, or collab set, for those not up on the rave lingo) with fellow British DJ Eats Everything. U.K. dubstep stalwarts Skream and Rusko are on the lineup for an "old skool dubstep set," which, as Your EDM put it, is "absolutely unheard of."

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But wait, who are the headliners? Pasquale Rotella, CEO and co-founder of Insomniac, believes that headliners are everyone that attends the festival, spreads the love and makes all the magic possible.

"Being a Headliner means looking at the world a little differently, and seeing beauty and inspiration everywhere you look. It’s about lifting up the people around you and making time for your family and friends. This is a journey we all take together—always connected and committed to one another," Rotella said in a statement on Insomniac's website.

If you want to get your dance on and check out the carnival rides, interactive art and plenty of lights and lasers with EDC in Vegas, you're in luck; tickets are still available. Check out EDC's website for more info.

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"Into The Night" Singer/Songwriter Benny Mardones Dies At 73

Benny Mardones

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images


"Into The Night" Singer/Songwriter Benny Mardones Dies At 73

The singer/songwriter, known for his vocal range, died from Parkinson's disease complications

GRAMMYs/Jun 30, 2020 - 03:37 am

Benny Mardones, the singer/songwriter known for his vocal range, songwriting and his 1980 track "Into the Night," has died at the age of 73.

Mardones died on Monday, June 29, in his Menifee, California home from complications after a lengthy battle with Parkinson's disease. He died peacefully with his wife, Jane, at his side, his official Twitter said. 

Mardones co-wrote his biggest hit "Into the Night" off his 1980 album Never Run Never Hide with singer/songwriter Robert Tepper. The song's controversial lyrics, "She's just sixteen years old," came about after Tepper made a comment about the 16-year-old girl who used to walk Mardones' basset hound. In an interview with KTLA some time before his death, Mardones says he told Tepper, "She's just 16 years old, leave her alone."

The song made the Billboard charts three different times. "It's been very good to me," Mardones said in the interview. 

Born in Cleveland on Nov. 9, 1946 but raised in Savage, Md., Mardones knew he wanted to make music at a young age. Elvis inspired him as a boy and he had his own group as a teen.

He spent some brief time in the Navy during Vietnam before moving to New York City, meeting music producer Joel Diamond, who was president of CBS Publishing at the time, and co-writing "Too Heavy To Carry" with Alan Miles. Brenda Lee recorded the song two weeks after it was written. Together, Miles and Mardones went on to write songs for several music artists.

Mardones would go on to perform live and record his own music. Before making his hit "Into the Night," he faced challenges making waves with his 1979 debut titled Thank God for Girls. Too Much To Lose, the 1981 album following Never Run Never Hide was also unsuccessful, in part due to his drug addiction. The singer did not produce massively distributed music for years after but following the birth of his son, Michael, he revived his music career and released several more albums.

Before his death, Mardones paid tribute to those infected with COVID-19 through a "United We Stand Tribute," song produced by Diamond and featuring Teresa James

Mardones is survived by his wife, son, and sister Louise.

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GRAMMYs/Dec 30, 2014 - 12:22 pm