Pass the bubbly, it’s our birthday! Which sounds older — 30 years or three decades? Either way, it’s an impressive number, and we’re proud to have served the pro audio community for all these years, from the age of disco and punk to whatever the hell this current era will be known for years from now — hopefully not just downloading and tattoos. A surprising number of you have been fellow travelers all the way down our long road, and we clink virtual glasses with you to salute your longevity, too. I don’t know if any of us will outlast the Rolling Stones, but dare to dream!
Now, if you’ve been a reader of Mix for a while, you know that traditionally in these quinquinnial anniversary issues, we devote thousands of words and many pages to celebrating ourselves. We drag out the old stories — like misty tales of Avalon — about the struggles of our early years: how we wrote out our early issues in long-hand one copy at a time and walked barefoot through the snow to deliver copies of the magazine to recording studios and music stores. Sorry, that was young Abe Lincoln, not Mix co-founder David Schwartz. No, our anniversary issues were filled with photos of lots of people from the mag and from the industry, many wearing mismatched outfits and sporting haircuts that were outdated even then, standing in front of pieces of equipment that have long since been relegated to landfill (unless, of course, you were smart enough to sell them off as “vintage” gear!). Every five years, the contrast between the photos of our younger selves and our current selves would become more pronounced. Let’s just say that none of us has aged as well as Al Schmitt.
This is all a roundabout way of saying that for a change this anniversary issue isn’t going to be about us. Instead, it’s going to be a different sort of celebration of the past 30 years — specifically, we’re all doing the “We’re not worthy” bow to the people and technology that have helped define the “Mix Era.”
At the heart of this special section is “30 People Who Shaped Sound” (page 36), which showcases some of the most creative and influential people who have shaped recording during our 30-year history. We agonized for months about this list, tossing hundreds of names back and forth until we finally settled on the august group of producers, engineers and musicians you’ll find here. No doubt there will be many disagreements about whom we’ve included and excluded (such as important manufacturers, inventors, live sound engineers and facility designers). Feel free to register your opinions and offer your own choices by e-mailing us at email@example.com.
One name that certainly deserves to be on that list, but who instead gets the full-on “Mix Interview” treatment in this issue is legendary producer/composer/musician/jack-of-all-trades Quincy Jones, who reflects on his 60 years in music and recording. The breadth of his career is truly staggering.
On the technical side, George Petersen offers a look at “Technology Movements That Shook Pro Recording,” from the introduction of near-field monitoring, to digital tape, to the rise of home studios and the proliferation of DAWs.
Drawing from the live sound world, Sarah Benzuly has assembled a colorful collection of anecdotes supplied by front-of-house and monitor engineers about some of their most memorable road experiences during the past 30 years. As you’d expect, they span a range from “Glad I was there” to “Be thankful it didn’t happen to you!”
Our old pal Larry Blake — once our regular “Sound for Picture” columnist and still a top working film sound professional — weighs in with his picks for 10 of the coolest and/or most significant film sound design moments since Mix was founded in 1977. Some of his choices are sure to surprise you. What, nothing from Wedding Crashers? Larry is such an elitist!
The year 1977 is a springboard for several articles in this issue. As a tie-in with this month’s AES show in Manhattan, we take a look back at New York’s music and recording scene in 1977 — when both the Village People and The Ramones cut great albums just blocks apart! And our regular “Coast to Coast” columnists — Bud Scoppa in L.A., David Weiss in New York City and Rick Clark in Nashville — get in their time machines and go back to that year as well for a glimpse of — (cue strings) “the way we werrrrrrrre.”
So enjoy the party! Tom Kenny is the designated driver. Only 1,825 days until our big 35th-anniversary issue!
Senile, er, Senior Editor