Greg Ladanyi: Grammy-winning record producer noted for his work with Jackson Browne and Toto

The American recording engineer and producer Greg Ladanyi helped make some of the biggest records of the Seventies and Eighties, by such California-based acts as Jackson Browne, Don Henley and Toto, the group of top Los Angeles session players turned performers. Indeed, his excellence as an engineer was recognised when the multi-million selling Toto IV, including the transatlantic hits "Africa" and "Rosanna", won the Best Engineered Recording – (Non Classical) Grammy in 1982, and Toto received a further seven Grammies individually and collectively for the album.

"Toto IV was by far the most extensive mixdown I had been involved with," Ladanyi recalled. "The band had three 24-track machines on some songs – up to 72 tracks. I thought, 'My God, how do I make all this fit in two speakers?' 'Rosanna' and 'Africa' took three days each to complete. These songs were mixed in sections and then cut together. I balanced the track with EQ, compressors and effects, then we all made the fader rides together. No automation, and pairs of hands moving faders – Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, Jeff Porcaro and me."

In a career spanning over three decades, Ladanyi also worked on The Jacksons' Victory album in 1984, with Clannad on their Sirius album in 1987, co-produced See the Light, the 1988 debut by the blind Canadian guitar virtuoso and vocalist Jeff Healey, Starfish, the 1988 album by the Australian alternative group The Church which spawned the US hit "Under the Milky Way" – later revived to great effect in the cult film Donnie Darko – and Behind the Mask, a UK chart- topper in 1990 for Fleetwood Mac. In 2004, he helmed The Crickets & Their Buddies, a collection featuring Buddy Holly's group with guests of the calibre of Eric Clapton and Waylon Jennings, and mixed Joe Cocker's Heart & Soul album.

Born in the Midwest in 1952, Ladanyi grew up in Los Angeles. He had accordion lessons and gravitated towards the city's music scene as a keyboard-player in the late 1960s. He was a doorman at Gazzari's, a rock club on the Sunset Strip, and mixed live sound for various groups before landing a job at Stronghold Studio, where he bluffed his way through Captain Beefheart's Bluejeans & Moonbeams alongside producer Andy DiMartino in 1974. "By the time I was done, I was thoroughly in love with the idea of engineering records," he told Sound on Sound magazine in 2005. Moving on to a runner and tape operator gig at the Sound Factory, one of the busiest studios in Hollywood, he was mentored by the producers David Hassinger, Val Garay and Peter Asher, as they recorded Linda Ronstadt, J.D. Souther and Andrew Gold.

In 1976, Ladanyi got his big break when Garay was not available to mix Browne's The Pretender album. "When I came back and played my mixes for him, he said 'You've got the gig'. I was elated. This was the moment when I had connected one-on-one with the artist," he said about his lengthy collaboration with Browne, which took in a further four albums, the high watermarks of Running on Empty (recorded live, on the tour bus and in hotel rooms in 1977, and reconfigured in 5.1 surround sound by Ladanyi in 2005), Hold Out (1980), Lawyers in Love (1983) and Lives in the Balance (1986), as well as El Rayo-X, the 1981 album by Browne associate David Lindley. Ladanyi excelled at capturing Lindley's biting guitar tone and became known for the bright, warm sound of his recordings.

Passionate and dedicated, with a great ear for detail, Ladanyi was a consummate engineer who easily made the transition to a producer role during a creative period in American music. "The song was the centre of every project, the jumping-off point for every record and session. That was the genius of Southern California rock at the time – it was all about the song. The sound built itself up around the song," he explained.

Ladanyi worked best in partnership with a name artist like Browne or Warren Zevon, often with a musician/co-producer like "Waddy" Wachtel or Danny Kortchmar also on the team, as in the case of the Henley solo albums I Can't Stand Still (1982) and Building the Perfect Beast (1984). Ladanyi succeeded in creating a distinctive sound for the Eagles drummer and vocalist by using drum loops, sequencers and synthesizers, most famously on the evocative hit "The Boys of Summer", which earned him another Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year.

Ladanyi died after sustaining head injuries when he fell off a ramp leading up to the stage at the GSP stadium in Nicosia while attending a concert by the Cypriot-Greek singer Anna Vissi, whose Apagorevmeno album he had co-produced for his Maple Jam Music Group.

Pierre Perrone



Greg Ladanyi, engineer, producer, manager: born Elkhart, Indiana 9 October 1952; died Nicosia, Cyprus 28 September 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Small Family Accountancy Practi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £50,000

£18000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is recruiting for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager / Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence