Paul McCartney paid tribute to the humor, work ethic and fearlessness of late audio engineer Geoff Emerick, who died Tuesday from a heart attack at age 72. Emerick worked on some of the Beatles’ most revered albums, including Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road. “I’ll always remember him with great fondness, and I know his work will be long remembered by connoisseurs of sound,” McCartney wrote on his website.
The pioneering engineer first worked with the Beatles in September 1962 at age 16 as an assistant at EMI Studios (later known as Abbey Road). Four years later, he graduated to the band’s sound engineer, starting with Revolver, helping them pursue radical musical ideas through experimental techniques.
McCartney acknowledged Emerick’s famous curiosity. “He had a sense of humour that fitted well with our attitude to work in the studio and was always open to the many new ideas that we threw at him. He grew to understand what we liked to hear and developed all sorts of techniques to achieve this. He would use a special microphone for the bass drum and played it strategically to achieve the sound that we asked him for. We spent many exciting hours in the studio and he never failed to come up with the goods.”
The former Beatle also worked with Emerick in Lagos, Nigeria on his 1973 LP, Band on the Run. “I remember arriving at the half built studio with a handful of 45s, which I played for him to explain what direction I wanted to take on this particular album,” McCartney wrote. “I remember asking him to make sure that the tracks had a lot of space, and he was happy to deliver that.”
The pair remained friends over the years, and McCartney wrote that the engineer even visited during sessions for his latest album, Egypt Station. “He was his usual cheerful friendly self and gave me the thumbs up to the mixes we played him,” the bassist added.
“Lots of love, Geoff,” McCartney added to close the note. “It was a privilege to know you.”
Ringo Starr, who worked with Emerick to achieve many influential drum sounds on the Beatles’ records, recognized the engineer in his own recent statement.
“I am so sorry and shocked to hear about Geoff Emerick,” the drummer wrote. “He was a great engineer, very helpful to all of us in the studio. With him and George Martin they helped us to step up on Revolver. He will be missed. Barbara and I send peace and our love to his family. Peace & love, Ringo xxx”