“I can’t say enough about working with Ed… Ed Stasium was a godsend. He just came in and knew exactly how to work with us.”- Jeff Healey
Jeff Healey “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Very late during a sub-zero Canadian evening in January of 1990, a phone call came into the control room at the now defunct Le Studio Morin Heights in Quebec from George Harrison. Le Studio was the fabulous residential studio that was the creation of the great Canadian record producer Andre Perry. I had actually worked on staff at Le Studio from November 1975 until September of 1976; I loved the place and was very excited that I was back as an independent producer working there again on a new Jeff Healey record.
The backing tracks were finished and we were in the midst of overdubbing on Jeff’s “Hell To Pay” LP. The making of that record was a wonderful time for all involved, it was recorded and mixed in 30 days.
The band had recorded a cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”; Paul Shaffer had flown up to Le Studio from New York the previous week and had played piano and Hammond B-3 on the song (and several others). Through some quirk of fate a mutual acquaintance of George and Jeff informed Mr. Harrison that Mr. Healey had mentioned, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get George Harrison to do a guest appearance on the song?” So this mutual fellow told George, and now here I was in freezing Morin Heights speaking to an Ex-Beatle from his residence in Hana on the island of Maui. On a side note, it is ironic that I am writing this on my MacBook in Kahana, Maui, while looking out at the Pacific Ocean and the islands of Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi.
The Beatles had a tremendous influence on my musical and recording career, so needless to say I was a bit nervous talking to George on the phone. After a chat about the differences in our respective climates he asked, “So Ed, what would you like me to do on the recording?” OMG …. George Harrison asking ME what I wanted HIM to do? At first I found myself sweating and stuttering but George was so laid back that I immediately felt at ease. Speaking with George Harrison on the phone truly remains a highlight of my career.
I told George that Jeff and I thought it would be lovely if he could play acoustic guitar throughout the track and also sing some harmony vocals on the second and third verse. George said “Great! I’ll be in LA working with Jeff Lynne next week and I’ll record my parts there. Could you make a ‘slave reel’ and please send it to Rumbo Recorders in LA where we will be working?”
For those of you technically challenged folks: previous to sending out files on a flash drive, we had to make ‘slave reels’ when we ran out of tracks on the 24 track reel of 2” tape. In this case we made a ‘slave reel’ for George to record onto. We sub-mixed the drums to a pair of stereo tracks, Jeff’s guitars also to a stereo pair, the bass and keyboards were bounced down to one track each and a track for Jeff’s vocal. This left plenty of tracks for George to do his recording onto. I enclosed a letter to George re-capping what we had discussed and had FedEx deliver the tape to Rumbo. As I had done plenty of work at Rumbo in the past I called the studio manager and informed her of our plan to record and delivery details.
Around two weeks passed and we were wondering what happened to George. At this juncture we had started the mixing process when I got a call from Rumbo informing me that they had shipped the reel back to us. The next day the tape arrived with a letter from George (pictured).
I eagerly opened up the package and my engineering assistant Paul Hamingson placed the reel on the Studer 24 track machine and rewound it to the top of the song. I looked at the track sheet and saw that George and Jeff had overdubbed acoustic guitars and harmony vocals as we requested. Of course the first thing I did was just listen to the tracks that they had recorded in ‘solo’ without listening to any of our backing track. It was a thrill to hear the guitars and then when the vocals entered I was ecstatic, it sounded amazing.
I hadn’t listened to the recording in quite a while. To brush up on the elements of the song I listened to it on Spotify, I was pleased to see that it is the most played Jeff Healey song with 1,136,760 listens (so far) and it still sounds great!
Jeff was one of the most talented musicians I have ever worked with and a true friend to me, I miss him and think about him often…
Love YOU Jeff…….
Producer/engineer/mixer, Ed Stasium would rather say “it’s all about the music” when pressed for highlights of his career. Helping an artist clearly bring their vision to fruition while taking care to make sure the sound shines, Ed finds himself taking a role as “another member of the band” while leading a project to completion.
In the years since Ed recorded and mixed his first gold single, Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia”, Ed has recorded and produced such diverse artists as The Ramones, Talking Heads, Julian Cope, Peter Wolf, Mick Jagger, Jeff Healey, Joan Jett, Marshall Crenshaw, Living Colour, Soul Asylum, The Smithereens, Motorhead, Biohazard, The Reverend Horton Heat, the Misfits and many more.
For more info on Ed Stasium’s storied career and life, please check here – www.edstasium.com