"I’ll always remember him with great fondness"
Emerick, who worked on some of the Fab Four’s most iconic recordings, died yesterday (October 2). He was 72 years old.
In a post on his website, McCartney described their close working relationship and friendship, writing “I’ll always remember him with great fondness and I know his work will be long remembered by connoisseurs of sound.” He also paid tribute to the engineer’s humour and skill in the studio, saying he “was always open to the many new ideas that we threw at him”.
Emerick was just 15 when he first met The Beatles at London’s now-legendary Abbey Road studios. After impressing with his work on hits including ‘Love Me Do’, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘She Loves You’, he eventually became the band’s chief engineer.
During his time in the role, he oversaw some of the group’s most iconic records – such as ‘Revolver’, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’ ‘The White Album’ and ‘Abbey Road’.
Read Paul McCartney’s full tribute below:
“I first met Geoff when he was a young engineer working at Abbey Road Studios. He would grow to be the main engineer that we worked with on many of our Beatles tracks. 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. After The Beatles, I continued to work with him and our friendship grew to the point where when he got married to his beautiful wife Nicole, it was in the church close to where we lived in the country.
He came with me to Lagos Nigeria to record my album ‘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. I remember asking him to make sure that the tracks had a lot of space and he was happy to deliver that. We kept in touch through the years and our phone calls or messages always gained a giggle or two.
Having seen him as recently as this year when he came to visit us at Henson Studio in LA, where we were putting the finishing touches to ‘Egypt Station’, he was his usual cheerful friendly self and gave me the thumbs up to the mixes we played him.
I’ll always remember him with great fondness and I know his work will be long remembered by connoisseurs of sound.”
McCartney also shared a picture of a young Emerick, which you can see below.
Jack White called Emerick “one of the most important, unsung heroes of music history” in a tribute posted to the Third Man Records Instagram page.
“today the world lost an artistic giant,” he wrote. “geoff emerick was one of the most important unsung heroes of music history. he may have been the first person to put a microphone up close to a kick drum and close mic strings for a recording.
“his editing on strawberry fields forever changed recording techniques forever. his decisions have influenced popular culture from behind the curtain without recieving any credit for it. try to find his book ‘here, there, and everywhere.’ rest in peace, sir.”
Julian Lennon described him as “one of a kind”, while Wings’ Denny Laine said: “Geoff was a brilliant engineer and a fine man.” Midge Ure also hailed him as a “brilliant and fine man”.
Confirming Emerick’s death, his manager William Zabaleta said: “Today at around 2’o’clock, I was making my way back from Arizona to Los Angeles to pick up Geoff so we could transport some gold records and platinum plaques to our show in Tucson.
“While on the phone, he had complications and dropped the phone. I called 911, but by the time they got there, it was too late. Geoff suffered from heart problems for a long time and had a pacemaker. … When it’s your time it’s your time. We lost a legend and a best friend to me and a mentor.”
As well as the Beatles, Emerick also worked with Paul McCartney on Wings’ 1973 album ‘Band On The Run’.
More recently, Emerick was scheduled to give a US talk later this year to celebrate the forthcoming reissue of ‘The White Album’.