Visiting Lecturer in Music Technology
Simon has been a top-flight music recording engineer for nearly forty years and continues to record and produce music based at the ChairWorks studio complex in West Yorkshire. Starting in 1973 at London’s prestigious CBS Whitfield St. Studios, Simon gained a grounding in recording techniques at the highest level in all styles of music, working with classical artists John Williams, Daniel Barenboim & the English Chamber Orchestra, jazz singer George Melly, show singers Michael Crawford and Bruce Forsyth as well as recording spoken word albums with Peter Ustinov, Vincent Price and poet laureate Ted Hughes. Simon worked on West End show albums, film scores, TV jingles and ‘musique concrete’ albums, as well as recordings by guitar legends Duanne Eddy and Bill Haley, comedians Tommy Cooper and Ken Dodd and many other international recording artists. Pop music recording was to be Simon’s main work however, working with many of the seventies well known names. Abba, the Glitter Band, David Essex (including an appearance in the film ‘Stardust’), Marc Bolan, the Hollies, Argent, Hot Chocolate, Tina Charles, Pan’s People (!), Sailor and Smokie among many others.
In early 1977 punk arrived at CBS in the shape of the Clash, and Simon was chosen to capture the band’s seminal early recordings, now acknowledged as one of punk’s great albums, and for which the band presented Simon with his first gold album in recognition. Simon also recorded the Vibrators first album, gaining his first production credit (‘London girls, live at the Marquee’), also the Only Ones ‘Another girl, another planet’, a young and unsigned XTC, Manchester’s the Drones and many other New Wave hopefuls. In later years, Simon would also work with Talking Heads’ David Byrne and Television’s Tom Verlaine.
Along with fellow ‘young gun’ Steve Levine, Simon left CBS in 1979 to pursue a freelance career in production and songwriting, releasing his own albums of disco and pop songs, having chart success with bands Secret Affair, the Jags and the Techno Twins, and setting up his own recording studio (‘Hot Nights’) in west London. During the eighties Simon mixed Culture Club’s massive second album, including UK & US number one ‘Karma Chameleon’, recorded Bros’ multi hit debut (‘When will I be famous?’) played bass on a Beach Boys album, engineered for film score ubermaestro Hans Zimmer, made the ‘Birdie Song’, and engineered and produced in most of London’s growing number of pro recording studios. In the late eighties, Simon was ready for a new challenge and formed his own band as a writing/production vehicle. Beijing Spring signed to MCA/Universal in 1990 in a million dollar deal as an attempt to emulate the golden period of English soft rock recording artists such as Fleetwood Mac, but despite moderate chart success, the band disintegrated in legal & musical acrimony two years later. (emulating the ‘Mac’ in this sense only…) After a period working in Denmark (producing five gold selling albums with harmony rock survivors ‘Smokie’), in 1997 Simon relocated to Yorkshire, rebuilding and designing the Radar Rooms studios (now the ChairWorks), and continuing his career as producer and engineer. Simon has also contributed to the government’s New Deal for Musicians scheme as an industry consultant and currently lectures at the University of Leeds on music production.
Simon has had a unique and varied career in music recording as an engineer, producer, musician, programmer and studio builder and his love of the recording process is as undiminished today as when he first assisted on his first session in 1973 (for the Shadows’ Tony Meehan & Jet Harris). He was indeed fortunate to serve his apprenticeship as assistant to two recording engineer legends, Mike Ross-Trevor and Elliot Mazer.
A 2009 interview with Simon can be viewed here: http://www.recordproduction.com/simon-humphrey-record-producer.html
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