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The Florida Chapter of the Recording Academy Honors Roger Nichols

From left: Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, Al Di Meola and honoree Roger Nichols.

On April 17, 2006, the Florida Chapter of The Recording Academy honored seven-time Grammy winner Roger Nichols. Nichols produced hits for the late John Denver and engineered records by Steely Dan, Rickie Lee Jones, Donald Fagen and dozens of others. At The Recording Academy Honors 2006 gala event, Nichols was joined by co-honorees the Backstreet Boys, Ednita Nazario and Iggy Pop in an evening that celebrated great music makers and innovators.

Nichols, a member of The Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing (P&E Wing) Advisory Council, was celebrated for his visionary work that helped make digital recording a standard in the industry, including his invention of the sampling drum machine Wendell Jr., as well as his ongoing work as a mastering engineer, digital archivist and music restoration expert.

“Roger Nichols’ talent is legendary,” observed P&E Wing Executive Director Maureen Droney. “He’s long been recognized by his peers as a recording industry visionary and we’re proud to see him honored by many of the people whose lives have been directly touched by his work.”

Commemorating the moment with Nichols were his wife, Connie, and their two daughters. The evening began with a silent auction followed by dinner and the awards presentation, which included performances by the Backstreet Boys, Ednita Nazario and Iggy Pop, who performed backed by rockers Sum 41. There was also a special acoustic performance by Al Di Meola, whose work was often recorded by Nichols and who was joined by Ron Deutschendorf, brother of John Denver, in a touching introduction to Nichols’ appearance onstage.

Nichols’ career was portrayed in a brief film highlighting key moments in his career. As the engineer for the perfectionist duo Steely Dan, this former nuclear engineer-turned-recording engineer was one of the first to use the 3M 32-track digital tape deck to make hit records. As an engineer, producer and mastering specialist, he boosted the careers artists such as Joe Cocker, John Denver (with whom Nichols recorded seven albums), Gloria Estefan, Al Jarreau, Mark Knopfler and Frank Sinatra.

Nichols continues to serve on the Board of Governors for the Florida Chapter of The Recording Academy, remains active with P&E Wing events, and lectures to master classes at Berklee College of Music, the Musician’s Institute, the Recording Workshop, production school Full Sail, the Vancouver Film School and the University of Miami. Nichols is also currently the digital audio consultant for the Library of Congress’ new Culpepper Archiving Facility.

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