Geoff Emerick dies

Beatles recording engineer Geoff Emerick has died at the age of 72, following a heart attack.

Emerick was hugely influential to the creation of the Beatles’ music. He was born in London on 5 December 1945, and joined EMI at the age of 15. On 4 September 1962, in his first week working at EMI Studios on Abbey Road, he sat in on The Beatles’ first recording session with Ringo Starr in the group.

By 1966 he had been promoted to the position of balance engineer, and worked on The Beatles’ albums Revolver, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles (White Album). He moved on during the sessions for the latter album, but returned to the fold for the single ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko’ and the group’s swansong Abbey Road.

Brian Epstein, George Martin and Geoff Emerick at the worldwide satellite broadcast of All You Need Is Love (Our World), 25 June 1967

Brian Epstein, George Martin and Geoff Emerick at the worldwide satellite broadcast of All You Need Is Love (Our World), 25 June 1967

Following The Beatles’ split, Emerick retained a bond with Paul McCartney, and engineered the albums Band On The Run, London Town, Tug Of War and Flaming Pie.

Emerick received Grammy Awards for his work on Sgt Pepper, Abbey Road, and Band On The Run, and in 2003 received a Special Merit/Technical Grammy Award.

He also worked on albums by acts including Elvis Costello, Badfinger, Art Garfunkel, America, Jeff Beck, Stealers Wheel, The Zombies, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Nazareth, Split Enz, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Ultravox.

In 2006 Emerick published a memoir – Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles – which he co-authored with music journalist Howard Massey. Although it drew criticism for its negative portrayal of figures such as George Martin and George Harrison, the book nonetheless remains an invaluable insight into The Beatles’ recording processes.

In later years Emerick moved to the USA, living in Los Angeles.

His death was announced on 2 October 2018, in a YouTube video posted by his manager William Zabaleta.

Everybody thinks there’s like a rumour going around that Geoff Emerick is dead. Well it’s not a rumour, it’s the truth. Just today, at around two o’clock I was making my way back from Arizona [to] Los Angeles to go pick up Geoff so we can transport some gold records and platinum plaques to our show in Tucson.

While on the phone to Geoff Emerick he… had complications, dropped the phone. At that point I called 911, but by the time they got there it was too late. Geoff suffered from heart problems for a long time, he had a pacemaker and, you know, when it’s your time it’s your time.

We lost a legend, and a best friend to me, and a mentor. And that’s all I can say on the matter. I’m not going to be answering phone calls because everyone’s calling me at the same time. That’s why I’m issuing this statement and I’ll share it everywhere. So yeah, it’s not a rumour. Geoff passed away today. May he rest in peace.

William Zabaleta

Last updated: 21 September 2021
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