Gus Dudgeon, 59, a veteran record producer best known for his work with Elton John, was killed on July 22 when his Jaguar XK8 left the road and plunged down an embankment near Reading, west of London, England. Dudgeon’s wife, Sheila, also died in the accident.
Dudgeon, who was born in Surrey, England, on September 30, 1942, had a highly successful production career that began with Ten Years After’s debut album and included David Bowie’s first hit, Space Oddity, in 1969. That same year, Dudgeon was hired to work on the self-titled debut album by Elton John, then an unknown artist, leading to a long relationship that produced a string of hits, including “Your Song,” “Rocket Man” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”
The pair eventually went their separate ways, reuniting for several projects in the mid-’80s. Dudgeon also oversaw the reissue of Elton John’s classic ’70s catalog and produced Two Rooms, a tribute to John and his longtime collaborator, Bernie Taupin.
In a statement, Sir Elton John said, “I am devastated by the tragic news about Gus Dudgeon. He was an incredibly talented producer and a very dear friend for many years. I will miss him terribly.”
Dudgeon began his career at Olympic Studios in the then-traditional manner, as a tea boy, and by his early 20s was a house engineer at Decca Records’ studios. There he worked on recordings by John Mayall, The Zombies, the Small Faces and many others.
Through the ’70s and ’80s, Dudgeon worked with artists such as Joan Armatrading, Lindisfarne and Chris Rea, and in 1992 produced XTC’s Nonesuch album. At the time of his death, he had been working with a new British band, Slinky, and a tribute to musical comedy act, the Bonzo Dog Band, which included contributions from Ringo Starr and the late George Harrison.