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Zeppelin, Stones engineer Andy Johns dead at 61

By Todd Leopold, CNN
updated 10:28 AM EDT, Tue April 9, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Andy Johns was engineer on several classic albums
  • He worked on Led Zeppelin's "Led Zeppelin IV," Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street"
  • "1 of the great engineer/producers of our time," tweeted Slash

(CNN) -- Andy Johns, the engineer and producer who worked on albums by Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Television and Van Halen, has died, according to guitarist Stacey Blades, who was collaborating on a project with him.

Johns, who died Sunday, was 61.

Blades noted that Johns had entered the hospital about 10 days ago. "Andy's health wasn't all that great over the last six months or so, but he was still Andy," he told CNN. "When I got the call yesterday I was shocked."

Johns, the younger brother of famed producer Glyn Johns, was the engineer for most of Led Zeppelin's output, including "Led Zeppelin II," "Led Zeppelin IV," "Houses of the Holy" and "Physical Graffiti." He was known for his skill at recording a range of guitar sounds and, especially, John Bonham's room-shaking drums.

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He also had a hand in the Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers," "Exile on Main Street" and "Goats Head Soup," Van Halen's "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" (which he produced) and two albums by guitarist Joe Satriani.

"Lovely guy -- patient, skilled, funny, encouraging, sharp ... all the qualities you want in someone who is getting your music on to tape," wrote Queen's Brian May on his website. Queen recorded at London's Olympic Studios, where Johns also worked.

"1 of the great engineer/producers of our time," tweeted guitarist Slash.

Johns also co-produced New York punk band Television's seminal "Marquee Moon," though the result wasn't quite what the band was looking for. Johns went for a booming drum sound with the sharper-edged New Yorkers, but it didn't fit, Television's Richard Lloyd told CNN in 2003.

"If the drums were that big, it wouldn't be us," Lloyd said.

Johns did, however, grab Television's wiry, entangled guitar sound -- which Lloyd described as "two gears in a clock" -- perfectly. The album, like many of Johns' recordings, has since become a classic.

Johns' more recent recordings included albums by the Steve Miller Band, Chickenfoot and Sabyrtooth.

Blades, a former member of L.A. Guns, called Johns "amazing."

"It was just amazing to watch him work, and how he would place mics in the recording room, and his ideas while you're tracking. I learned a lot from him, he was inspiring and taught me so much about sound and thinking outside of the box," he said. "You always took his suggestions, because how can you argue with a guy who produced the Stones?"

Blades and other musicians who have worked with Johns are organizing a memorial concert for him next month. The producer and engineer leaves behind a wife and two children.

"Andy will be sorely missed," said Blades. "He was a good friend, a great producer, and a great guy. The industry will definitely mourn his loss."

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