Producers are an often overlooked but always integral part of the recording process. They're the people who often make the idea come alive. We highlight and celebrate the 50 most influential producers ever. Edited and compiled by Tim Chester.

20Andrew Weatherall

While Weatherall is as much a remixer as he is a producer, he’s nevertheless played a vital role in the development of indie music and in particular its intersection with dance sensibilities. It was his re-edit of ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ and work overall on Screamadelica that made Primal Scream so vital in the early nineties, and his mixes of My Bloody Valentine and New Order are as vital as his strictly production work on Fuck Buttons and Beth Orton.

19Daniel Lanois

Rolling Stone once called Lanois the most important producer of the 80s, and they’ve kind of got a point. While Brian Eno gets most of the credit, the chair next to him was occupied by Lanois on numerous occasions, including during the making of U2’s ‘The Joshua Tree’. He worked his magic on several albums for Bono, as well as for Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and Willie Nelson, coaxing a unique widescreen sonic template from the studio.

18Todd Rundgren

Four words: ‘Bat Out Of Hell’. There’s a reason Meat Loaf’s debut album sat on the charts for nearly 500 weeks, and it lays in Rundgren’s work on the sound desk. His production nous was employed by a whole host of artists in the 70s, however, making him the go-to guy of the decade. Surprisingly, he also had time for a successful solo career and was a pioneer of music videos and internet-based music services. TC

17Stephen Street

Another one of those guys who contributed as much in the live room as he did behind the desk, Street was almost more of a musician than a producer. Although perhaps best known for his work with The Smiths, he actually only stepped up from engineer to producer for their swansong, ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’, and hit his creative stride with subsequent albums for Morrissey, followed by Blur and then The Cranberries.

16The Neptunes

Few producers have owned such a distinctive sound as Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. Their late ‘90s future funk was stamped across all manner of top artists, from Justine Timberlake to Britney, Kelis to Jay-Z. Crucially, though, it always sounded unmistakably Neptunes-y.

15T Bone Burnett

Multi-Grammy Award winner Burnett has worked behind the desk for all manner of artists, from Elvis Costello to Spinal Tap (and also played guitar for Bob Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue) but his real genius lies in his all-American soundtracks, from The Big Lebowski to O Brother Where Art Thou and Walk The Line.

14Nigel Godrich

The sixth member of Radiohead has been a key driving force behind the band’s constantly evolving sound since the mid-nineties. While John Leckie can claim credit for their earliest work, he engineered ‘The Bends’ and co-produced one of their greatest tracks, ‘Black Star’ and was their inseperable friend and partner in crime since then.

13Timbaland

Having produced minor R&B acts for a couple of years, Timbaland hit paydirt with LPs for Ginuwine, Aaliyah and Missy, and went on to forge a fine line in hop hop / R&B crossover tracks, blurring the formerly sharp distinctions between the two. He’s been relentless prolific and equally as diverse ever since, while retaining a true Timbaland sound. Producing material for Justin Bieber nowadays, but the greens must make it worthwhile.

12Arif Mardin

Part of the trio credited with creating Atlantic records’ signature sound (with Tom Dowd and Jerry Wexler), Mardin cut his teeth as Ahmet Ertegun’s brother Nesushi’s assistant. From the belly of the Atlantic beast he honed his craft on an almost endless string of hits from Phil Collins to Hall & Oates, Culture Club and The Bee Gees, ensuring he was behind the sound of your mum’s car stereo for years to come. A man with the Midas touch regardless of the genre.

11Lee Scratch Perry

Perry was a true pioneer. One of reggae’s early adoptors, he began innovating at the very beginning of his career, sampling baby cries for ‘People Funny Boy’, and went on to push the mixing board to its limits from his bespoke Black Ark studio, kind of inventing dub in the process. A master of sparse and minimal atmospheric production.

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