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Legendary Metal Producer/Engineer Michael Wagener Retires

With his name on more than 90 million albums sold, hard rock and metal producer/engineer Michael Wagener has announced his retirement.

Michael Wagener - WireWorld Studio - Eve Audio
[/media-credit] Michael Wagener in his studio, WireWorld 2.0, in an undated promotional photo for Eve Audio.

Nashville, TN (April 26, 2021)—Michael Wagener, the ears behind some of the biggest albums in metal history, announced his retirement Sunday, April 25—his 70th birthday. More than 90 million albums sold feature his name in the credits, as he worked with the biggest names in hard rock and heavy metal, including Metallica, Poison, Megadeth, Ozzy Osbourne, Skid Row, X, Mötley Crüe, Great White, Plasmatics, White Lion, Alice Cooper, Extreme, Dokken, Stryper, W.A.S.P., Overkill, .45 Grave, Accept, Testament, Helloween, Keel and more, as well as artists in other genres such as Janet Jackson and Muriel Anderson.

Taking to Facebook to make the announcement, Wagener wrote,

I have now been active in the music business for over 50 years and I think it’s time to retire and get out and catch up on some vacations. I have sold the studio and Double Trouble Productions does no longer exist as an official company.

I had an amazing time and met a ton of wonderful people and I am thankful for having been able to work with such great musicians and create such wonderful music.

Now it’s time to see some more of the world.

This site will eventually disappear. No more mixes, productions and workshops. The studio has been sold and except for some guitars, amps and minimal studio gear there is not much left here.

I want to thank you all for allowing me to live a great life and to do what I love. I am looking at a future of lots of traveling; it has been a great trip so far.

As a teenager in Germany, Wagener was the first guitarist for the band that would eventually become Accept, but had to quit when he was drafted into the army at 18. In 1972, he began working for a Hamburg, Germany company called Stramp that produced equipment for studios and stage use; during that time, he earned a degree in electronics engineering. By the late 1970s, he had built a 16-track studio in Hamburg, Tennessee Tonstudio, where he learned studio production and maintenance. While there, he met American guitarist Don Dokken, who was touring Germany at the time, and the two became fast friends. When the self-named group Dokken was signed two years later, Wagener produced its first album, Breaking The Chains, which went gold in the U.S.

With that success, Wagener became busy over the next few years primarily as an engineer and mix engineer, as the then-burgeoning metal movement exploded. He teamed with lifelong friend and leader of Accept, Udo Dirkschneider, to form a production company, Double Trouble Productions, and during that time, also mixed debut albums for Mötley Crüe and Great White. With the U.S. hungry for metal, Wagener moved to Los Angeles in 1984, soon producing X’s Ain’t Love Grand and Stryper’s Soliders Under Command.

Yes, Even Guitars

Over the ensuing years, he mixed noted albums like Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Megadeth’s So Far, So Good…So What, Ozzy Osbourne’s No More Tears and Poison’s debut, Look What The Cat Dragged In. Meanwhile, he took on the producer mantel for Skid Row’s triple-platinum self-titled debut, Alice Cooper’s Raise Your Fist and Yell, Extreme’s commercial breakthrough Pornograffitti, Warrant’s Dog Eat Dog and others, while also netting a top-10 single with Janet Jackson’s pop-metal track, “Black Cat.”

While continuing to work with hard rock and metal acts throughout his career, Wagener moved to Nashville in 1996 and built his own digital recording facility, WireWorld Studio, which evolved to become a fully digital 5.1 surround production facility.