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Music Production

Jim Malloy, Grammy-Winning Elvis Engineer, Dead at 87

By Clive Young. Elvis called the six-time Grammy nominee the “best engineer anywhere as far as I’m concerned.”

Nashville, TN (July 13, 2018)—Jim Malloy, a Grammy-winning engineer who worked with the likes of Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Miles Davis, Henry Mancini and dozens of other household names, died Thursday, July 5, at age 87.

Over the years, he worked on records by the likes of Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Jr, Ike & Tina Turner, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charley Pride, The Statler Brothers, Homer & Jethro, Al Hirt, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Chet Atkins, Duke Ellington, Nelson Riddle, Duane Eddy, Neil Diamond, Gary Burton, Linda Ronstadt, Eddy Arnold, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Ray Stevens, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis, Jr., Paul Anka, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, The Carter Family, Jack Benny, Perry Como and many others.

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Born in 1931 in Dixon, IL, Malloy moved to Los Angeles in 1954, entering the electronics trade, working at NBC and eventually shifted into the recording world with a position in studio maintenance at Radio Recorders. Mentored by Columbia Records executive Alan Emig, Malloy’s first mix was a Mahalia Jackson track and from there, he never looked back.

Malloy won a Best Engineered Recording Grammy for his work on Henry Mancini’s soundtrack for the 1963 classic thriller, Charade, and nabbed five other nominations across his career for engineering The Latin Sound of Henry Mancini and The Pink Panther for Mancini; “How Great Thou Art” for Presley; “The Last Word in Lonesome is Me” for Eddy Arnold; and “The Addams Family Main Theme.”

Presley is quoted as having called Malloy the “best engineer anywhere as far as I’m concerned.” Malloy’s 2005 autobiography, Playback (now hard to find, used copies of the fairly technical book start at $300), recounts how The King tried to get the engineer fired—so that he could hire Malloy full-time for himself. Elsewhere in the tome, Malloy recalls working with Sam Cooke on the night he died, refusing to record Benny Goodman’s 10-piece band with only two mics despite the bandleader’s insistence, and recording Ike and Tina Turner while bodyguards watched over his shoulder.

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Chet Atkins eventually drew Malloy to Nashville to record hits for RCA, and the engineer eventually branched out into producing, creating hits for Sammi Smith and others, and music publishing as well, founding DebDave Music, named after his children. Other highlights of the era included work as the recording engineer for The Johnny Cash Show TV series, which ran three years, taped at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Malloy remained active, producing other artists over the years including a number of Eddy Arnold albums.