Al Schmitt, legendary producer and engineer, dies at 91

Legendary recording engineer and producer Al Schmitt died on Monday at the age of 91, his family has confirmed. 

Schmitt, worked with a huge range of recording artists including Sam Cooke, Paul McCartney and Madonna, and received a record-breaking 20 Grammy Awards during his career, having been nominated a staggering 36 times.

His family revealed in a statement on Schmitt’s Facebook page that he passed away on 26 April.

The statement reads: 

“Al Schmitt’s wife Lisa, his five children, eight grandchildren, and five great grandchildren would like his friends and extended recording industry family to know that he passed away Monday afternoon, April 26. The world has lost a much loved and respected extraordinary individual, who led an extraordinary life. 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.”

“Loved and admired by his recording colleagues, and by the countless artists he worked with, from Jefferson Airplane, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Diana Krall, Dr. John, Natalie Cole and Jackson Browne to Bob Dylan—and so many more—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.”

Born in 1930, Schmitt grew up in New York City and served in the U.S. Navy before starting work as an apprentice at Apex Recording Studios in Manhattan. It was there where he unexpectedly had the chance to record a session with Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. 

After relocating to LA in 1958, he worked at Radio Recorders and RCA before going solo as an independent producer, completing much of his work at Capitol Studios in Hollywood.

Tributes to the celebrated producer have poured in from artists and producers including Brian Wilson, Steve Perry and Giles Martin.

Patrick Kraus, Universal Music Groups’s Senior Vice President of Recording Studios and Archive Management was among many industry leaders who have paid tribute to Schmitt. He said:

“We mourn the loss of our dear friend, Al Schmitt, and celebrate the life and legacy of one of the most accomplished engineers and producers who ever walked into a recording studio. Al worked with iconic artists on some of the biggest albums of all time. The list of his accomplishments – from Grammy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to gold- and platinum-certified records – is long and distinguished. It’s hard to imagine Capitol Studios without Al at a console, dialing in a mix, catching up with one of his many friends or lighting the place up with his smile and laugh. He will be deeply missed.”