Andy Johns, the producer and recording engineer who worked on landmark albums by the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, died yesterday after a brief stay in the hospital. He was 61. No cause of death was available, but hard-rock guitarist Stacy Blades told Billboard he had been working with Johns until the producer went to the hospital last week with an unspecified liver ailment.
Johns, the younger brother of noted producer Glyn Johns and uncle to Ethan Johns, engineered some of the most beloved albums of all time. His credits include four Rolling Stones albums, including Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street; and six Led Zeppelin albums including Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy; along with recordings by Blind Faith, Ten Years After and Free. Johns also produced albums by Jethro Tull, Humble Pie, Television and Van Halen.
Born in Surrey in southeastern England, Johns had initially wanted to be a bass player before following his brother into the recording business. He started as a tape operator at Olympic Studios in London, where he contributed to sessions for Axis: Bold as Love by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
After working with the Stones, Zeppelin and more, Johns moved to Los Angeles in the Seventies, where he collaborated with a diverse assortment of artists, from Joni Mitchell to Ozzy Osbourne. In more recent years, Johns had worked on recordings by L.A. Guns, Godsmack and Chickenfoot.
As word of Johns' death spread, musicians paid tribute online, with Slash tweeting that Johns was "1 of the great engineer/producers of our time." Brian May of Queen wrote on his website that Johns was a "lovely guy – patient, skilled, funny, encouraging, sharp . . . all the qualities you want in someone who is getting your music on to tape."