Dr Dre - One of the great producers of all time

Dr Dre - One of the great producers of all time

On February 12th, 2009, the Music Producers Guild (UK) will hold its inaugural Awards ceremony at the Cafe de Paris in London; Designed to recognise the enormous contribution recording professionals make to the success of the UK’s music industry, these awards are set to become an annual must-attend event on the music industry calendar.

To mark the occasion – and to draw attention to the wealth of skill, talent and creativity amongst recording professionals – the Music Producers Guild has identified its Top 50 producers of all time.

It is almost impossible to grade this list in terms of who should be at No. 1 and who should be at No. 50, but for the sake of argument the Music Producers Guild has identified its Top 5, based on creativity, the breadth of talent they have worked with, their impact on the charts and the distinctive sound they bring to an artist’s work.

So - do you agree with the judgement of the UK’s recording professionals? Or are there names missing that you think should be here? And what about our Top 5 - is this the order in which you would have placed them?

Regardless of personal taste and choice, what this list shows is that in order to create great music, talented artists need equally talented producers. Let’s celebrate them!

The Top 5:

Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Robert John Lange is undoubtedly, one of the most sought after producers in the business; as the co-writer on Bryan Adam’s (Everything I Do)I do It For You it’s obvious that this guy is a little bit special.

He has worked on numerous AC/DC albums, including Highway To Hell, and has produced for Def Leppard, Foreigner, The Corrs and The Cars and the latest album from Canadian rockers Nickelback, Dark Horse.

Robert is also well-known for working with his ex wife, country singer Shania Twain. Her 1997 album, Come on Over, which he produced, is the best selling record by any female artist of all time - I know I have it in my record collection. And even better, he is working on her sixth album as we speak!

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones needs no introduction (but I’m going to give him one anyway), as the producer behind Thriller, by musical icon Michael Jackson, you know that this guy is the real deal.

During his five decades in the entertainment industry, Jones has earned a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammy wins; including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991.

He also teamed up with old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra on his second album with Count Basie, It Might as Well Be Swing (1964). Jones conducted and arranged 1966's live album with the Basie Band, Sinatra at the Sands and Jones was also the arranger/conductor when Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Johnny Carson performed with the Basie orchestra in St. Louis in a benefit for Dismas House in June 1965.

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas has to be the luckiest producer of the top five (in my eyes) with a CV boating the likes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Pulp and The Pretenders. He has also produced breakthrough albums for The Sex Pistols and INXS.

He produced his first album in 1968 – The Climax Chicago Blues Band by the Climax Blues Band; two years later he was working on Home, the fourth album by Procol Harum. He was subsequently invited by John Cale to produce his Paris 1919 album at the AIR Studios, where he met Bryan Ferry, who in turn asked Thomas to produce Roxy Music.

In 1973, as Thomas’ work continued to attract interest, he took on mixing duties with Pink Floyd for their historic Dark Side of the Moon album. Then in In 1976 he was asked by Malcolm McLaren to produce the debut single by the Sex Pistols, strangely; Thomas was producing this single at the same time as working with Paul McCartney - talk about juxtaposition!

In 1985 Thomas played a critical part in achieving a worldwide breakthrough for Australian band INXS. He has also had a large involvement in the success of Pulp, Razor light (although their actual success is debatable!) and Elton John.

Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre really came to prominence through his work with Eminem and is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and a former co-owner and artist of Death Row Records.

It is through those labels that he found himself working on records for high-profile rappers Snoop Dogg and Slim Shady; as he is credited as a key figure in the popularisation of West Coast G-funk, a style of rap music characterized as synthesizer-based with slow, heavy beats.

He began his music career in a few gangster rap bands before releasing a solo album, The Chronic, on Death Row Records which resulted in him being one of the best-selling American performing artists of 1993. From there he left Death Row to found his own label Aftermath Entertainment, producing a compilation album, Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath, in 1996, and releasing a solo album titled 2001, in 1999, for which he won the Grammy producer's award the next year.

However, in recent year Dre has focused his attention on other artists, and it’s a well known fact that if you get in with Dr Dre, you’re guaranteed to get noticed in the rap industry.

It's impossible to cram the list of his recent successes into such a short space; but the most prominent ones have to be Family Affair by R&B singer Mary J. Blige, the debut 50 Cent album; Get Rich or Die Tryin', and L.A.X for The Game. He is also behind hits from Jay-Z, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Eve, as well as the duet between Eve and Gwen Stefani - Let Me Blow Ya Mind.

John Hammond

Proving just how incredible his sense of talent was; in 1933 he heard a 17-year-old Billie Holiday perform in Harlem and immediately arranged for her recording debut; on a Benny Goodman session. Four years later, he heard the Count Basie orchestra broadcasting from Kansas City and brought it to New York, where it began to receive national attention.

After he returned from serving in the military during World War II, Hammond felt unmoved by the bebop jazz scene of the mid-1940s and rejoined Columbia Records in the late 1950s where he discovered the incredible Aretha Franklin, who, at the time, was an eighteen year-old gospel singer.

In 1961, he heard folk singer Bob Dylan playing harmonica on a session for Carolyn Hester and signed him to Columbia, much to the annoyance of the executives, who clearly didn't see the star quality shining as brightly as Hammond. He produced Dylan's early recordings, "Blowin' in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall."

Although he retired from Columbia in 1975, he continued to scout for talent and signed Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen and guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan to their attention. Thank goodness for that!

FemaleFirst - Ruth Harrison

On February 12th, 2009, the Music Producers Guild (UK) will hold its inaugural Awards ceremony at the Cafe de Paris in London; Designed to recognise the enormous contribution recording professionals make to the success of the UK’s music industry, these awards are set to become an annual must-attend event on the music industry calendar.

To mark the occasion – and to draw attention to the wealth of skill, talent and creativity amongst recording professionals – the Music Producers Guild has identified its Top 50 producers of all time.

It is almost impossible to grade this list in terms of who should be at No. 1 and who should be at No. 50, but for the sake of argument the Music Producers Guild has identified its Top 5, based on creativity, the breadth of talent they have worked with, their impact on the charts and the distinctive sound they bring to an artist’s work.

So - do you agree with the judgement of the UK’s recording professionals? Or are there names missing that you think should be here? And what about our Top 5 - is this the order in which you would have placed them?

Regardless of personal taste and choice, what this list shows is that in order to create great music, talented artists need equally talented producers. Let’s celebrate them!

The Top 5:

Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Robert John Lange is undoubtedly, one of the most sought after producers in the business; as the co-writer on Bryan Adam’s (Everything I Do)I do It For You it’s obvious that this guy is a little bit special.

He has worked on numerous AC/DC albums, including Highway To Hell, and has produced for Def Leppard, Foreigner, The Corrs and The Cars and the latest album from Canadian rockers Nickelback, Dark Horse.

Robert is also well-known for working with his ex wife, country singer Shania Twain. Her 1997 album, Come on Over, which he produced, is the best selling record by any female artist of all time - I know I have it in my record collection. And even better, he is working on her sixth album as we speak!

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones needs no introduction (but I’m going to give him one anyway), as the producer behind Thriller, by musical icon Michael Jackson, you know that this guy is the real deal.

During his five decades in the entertainment industry, Jones has earned a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammy wins; including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991.

He also teamed up with old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra on his second album with Count Basie, It Might as Well Be Swing (1964). Jones conducted and arranged 1966's live album with the Basie Band, Sinatra at the Sands and Jones was also the arranger/conductor when Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Johnny Carson performed with the Basie orchestra in St. Louis in a benefit for Dismas House in June 1965.

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas has to be the luckiest producer of the top five (in my eyes) with a CV boating the likes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Pulp and The Pretenders. He has also produced breakthrough albums for The Sex Pistols and INXS.

He produced his first album in 1968 – The Climax Chicago Blues Band by the Climax Blues Band; two years later he was working on Home, the fourth album by Procol Harum. He was subsequently invited by John Cale to produce his Paris 1919 album at the AIR Studios, where he met Bryan Ferry, who in turn asked Thomas to produce Roxy Music.

In 1973, as Thomas’ work continued to attract interest, he took on mixing duties with Pink Floyd for their historic Dark Side of the Moon album. Then in In 1976 he was asked by Malcolm McLaren to produce the debut single by the Sex Pistols, strangely; Thomas was producing this single at the same time as working with Paul McCartney - talk about juxtaposition!



  1. by Harry Leckstein, Freeport 18th Dec 2008 18:40

    What a great list - hard to narrow it down to the top 5 with so many greats out there but that lot would have to be in my top 10.

  2. by Sammy 22nd Dec 2008 00:02

    WTF! Does the name Phil Spector sound at all familiar?

  3. by Jack Jackson 22nd Dec 2008 01:22

    Phil Spector?
    George Martin?

    Both easily belong in the Top 5. Perhaps the Top 2. Your list is bogus.

  4. by Jack Gander 22nd Dec 2008 04:37

    I won't fault your choice as such, given that these lists are always subjective, but I'm curious about your criteria. John Hammond, for example, is undoubtedly a pivotal figure in popul... Read More

  5. by Tom 22nd Dec 2008 05:17

    the music mutt lange has produced is best used to torture detainees at Guantánamo. brian eno, daniel lanois, george martin, jimmy miller, kenneth gamble & leon huff, curtis mayfield, n... Read More