Grammy nominated audio and mix engineer Ethan Willoughby was hit and killed by a drunk driver in a car accident in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 18.
Born December 12, 1976 in Evansville, Wis., Willoughby attended the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, Ariz., earning his degree in engineering and production education. After graduating in 1999, Willoughby trained as an assistant engineer under his mentor, mix engineer Dave Pensado, at The Enterprise Studio in North Hollywood, Calif. While assisting Pensado, Willoughby worked on projects for Pink, Christina Aguilera, Brian McKnight, Jessica Simpson, Mya, Lionel Richie and Destiny’s Child, and collaborated with Justin Timberlake on Timberlake’s debut album, Justified.
“Of all the people I’ve known in the music business, Ethan had the purest love and enjoyment for what he did,” Pensado says. “Everyone he touched was better off for knowing him”.
After working under Pensado for two and a half years, Willoughby made his transition to lead engineer. Willoughby’s work with will.i.am on Bob Marley’s “Africa Unite (will.i.am Remix)” lead to subsequent work on the Black Eyed Peas’ projects. “Ethan was one of the few people I trusted with my music, to mix it and make it sound perfect,” says will.i.am. “Most importantly, he was one of the nicest, kindest people that God blessed us with.”
Willoughby continued to build his credits working with such artists as the Rolling Stones, Busta Rhymes, the Game, Fergie, Sergio Mendes, Macy Gray, John Legend, Kelis, Common, and many more.
Most recently, Willoughby was recognized with the 2007 Album of the Year Grammy nomination for his engineering efforts on Timberlake’s multi-Platinum FutureSex/LoveSounds. “I am deeply saddened by this loss,” says Timberlake. “Ethan Willoughby was not only an amazing talent in the studio, but also an amazing person. We will all miss his presence and his love for music. We love you dearly, Ethan, and we will carry on your love for what we hold so dear. A true gift to our industry… A loyal friend to me. See you in the next one, my man.”
Ethan is survived by his wife, Stephanie Cooper-Willoughby; daughters, Ava and Mycheala; sister, Catherine; and parents, John and Barbara Willoughby.
A memorial was held in honor of Ethan on Saturday, February 24.
Willoughby’s MySpace page is www.myspace.com/ethanwilloughby, and his discography is avialable at www.artistdirect.com/nad/music/artist/appears/0,,2645181,00.html#more.