John Boylan

John Boylan

BMHOF Class of 2004

Currently celebrating his thirty-sixth year in the music industry, John Boylan is one of the most successful record producers in contemporary music. He has produced over fifty albums which have sold more than forty million records. His work crosses all boundaries of music, from rock to country, and from children's music to film soundtracks.

John started in the music business by writing songs while still a theatre arts student at Bard College in New York's Hudson Valley. After graduation, he and his brother, Terence, began pounding the pavements in Tin Pan Alley, finally landing ilftydollar-a-week jobs with noted music publisher Charles Koppelman. When one of John's songs caught the ear of Rick Nelson, he was asked to produce the rock star's next album in Los Angeles. This lead to a long and fruitful collaboration during which John put together the original Stone Canyon Band and produced Rick's top 40 comeback single, "She Belongs To Me."

In 1969, John moved to Los Angeles, where he was hired to produce the soundtrack for the hit film, "Goodbye Columbus," with the Association. While working on the subsequent Association album, he was recruited by the legendary bluegrass group, the Dillards, to produce their Elektra album, "Copperfields." Working on this project, John had a revelation which changed his career: "I realized that the most exciting music for me was rooted in the American folk tradition," he remembers. "I began to think of ways that I could combine those roots with contemporary rock and roll." Boylan

A short time later, a chance meeting with Linda Ronstadt at West Hollywood's famous Troubadour club gave John a chance to explore some of his musical fusion ideas. Linda asked John to help her form a new backup group for her next solo tour and he quickly turned to the extended family of struggling musicians playing in various bands at the Troubadour's Monday night "open mike" concerts. First to be hired was Detroit transplant Glenn Frey, followed quickly by Texan Don Henley, who had been pitching his songs to John, hoping to get Linda to record them. Rounding out the band were ex-Stone Canyon Band member Randy Meisner and ex-Flying Burrito Brother Bernie Leadon. With this solid line-up behind her, Linda's career took off. Her next album, produced by John, became her first gold record, containing the hit singles, "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" and "Love Has No Pride." In addition, John signed a two-year contract to manage her career, during which he negotiated her release from Capitol Records and landed her a long-term contract with Elektra.

After several successful tours during 1971, John helped Linda Ronstadt refine her sound into what would be one of the cornerstones of the California country-rock movement. However, everyone involved began to realize that her backup group had a special chemistry all their own. John recalls: "They were four great singers and they were writing some incredible songs. It seemed natural for them to try for a record deal." Signed to Asylum Records by founder David Geffen, the group became the Eagles, one of the most successful rock bands in American history.

What would be one of the cornerstones of the California country-rock movement. However, everyone involved began to realize that her backup group had a special chemistry all their own. John recalls: "They were four great singers and they were writing some incredible songs. It seemed natural for them to try for a record deal." Signed to Asylum Records by founder David Geffen, the group became the Eagles, one of the most successful rock bands in American history.

In 1973, realizing that his future was better served by working exclusively in the studio, John left the management business to concentrate on production. Successful projects for Brewer and Shipley, Pure Prairie League, and Commander Cody over the next two years led to his largest-selling project ever. When ex-Atlantic Records promo man Paul Ahern played him a demo tape by an unsigned and previously passed-over Massachusetts group, John heard something exciting - a vibrant combination of melodic music and heavy metal. He quickly signed on as co-producer, and the package was given a long-term contract with Epic Records. The group's first album, "Boston," became the best-selling debut album in the history of the music industry - 16 million and still counting!

Just before the albums release in August of 1976, John accepted an offer to join the A&R department of Epic Records in los Angeles, where he quickly rose to the position of Vice-President, West Coast. His unusual contract with the label allowed him to produce one outside project every year.

His first independent venture was a clear winner: during a visit to Australia and New Zealand for industry seminars, John witnessed the beginning of the burgeoning music scene in the Land Down Under. Against the advice of many of his colleagues, he took on production chores for an unknown Australian group called the Little River Band.Working in Melbourne, John and the band did four albums, all platinum, and generated an astounding six straight top ten singles, including the classics, "Lonesome Loser" and "Reminiscing. "

Throughout his ten-year career with Epic, John was also responsible for producing some of that label's biggest hits. In the late 1970s, he began working with top Southern rock artist, Charlie Daniels. Their first effort, "Million Mile Reflections," sold over three million copies and featured the number one Gold single, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," a Grammy winner and the CMA single of the year. John and Charlie went on to form a long-term partnership, recording eight successful albums together.

In the eighties, John worked with REO Speedwagon, Carly Simon, and Canadian superstar Dan Hill, as well as country legends Michael Martin Murphey and Mickey Gilley. But it was his long association with David Geffen that gave him his next multiplatinum artist. The Portland Oregon-based group, Seafood Mama, had enjoyed some local success when they became the first unknown signing to the newly-formed Geffen Records. With John's direction, the group changed personnel and acquired a new name, Quarterlash. Their debut album was certified platinum on the strength of two hit singles, "Harden My Heart" and "Find Another Fool."

Soon after, Epic Records and its sister label Columbia were sold to the Sony Corporation. Feeling that the time was right to become an independent record producer again, John left Epic and reactivated his own company, Great Eastern Music. He also built a complete 48-track digital recording studio. Once again, David Geffen was the first to call.

John believes his work on the hit animated TV show, "The Simpsons," was the | most challenging of his long career. "Geffen had signed the music rights to the characters from the hit show and he asked me to do I an album with the actors who supplied the voices. Luckily, they were all able to | sing in their character's voices, which I consider one of the most difficult feats in | music." The album, "The Simpsons Sing The Blues," sold in excess of four million records worldwide and helped make Homer and his dysfunctional family one of America's all-time favorites.

The phenomenal success of "The Simpsons" put John squarely in the children's music business, and for his next kid's venture, he accepted an offer from Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. of Chipmunk Productions, and the result was the platinum-selling "Chipmunks in Low Places," one of the rodents' biggest albums.

After producing the follow-up, A Very Merry Chipmunk, John began working with Jim Henson's legendary Muppets: "I called in a lot of favors for "Kermit Unpigged" and we all had a wonderful time. Don Henley's duet with Kermit, along with Linda Ronstadt, George Benson, and many others, made this one of my favorite projects."

His most recent children's project was the most ambitious of all: "We started "Elmopalooza" in late 1996, and we finally finished in early 1998! " The huge production was an ABC-TV Prime Time Special, a home video and DVD, and a CD and audiocassette on Sony Wonder. The star-studded guest lineup included Gloria Estefan, Kenny Loggins, Steven Tyler, Celine Dion, the Fugees, En Fogue, Jimmy Buffett, Shawn Colvin and many more. Most of the productions were recorded at least partially in John's own studio: "I was especially proud that I got to produce some of the songs written by my brother-in-law, Jeff Moss, one of Sesame Street's senior writers." On February 24, 1999, John was awarded a Grammy for "Elmopalooza!" which won the award for Best Musical Album For Children.

After producing the follow-up, A Very Merry Chipmunk, John began working with Jim Henson's legendary Muppets: "I called in a lot of favors for "Kermit Unpigged" and we all had a wonderful time. Don Henley's duet with Kermit, along with Linda Ronstadt, George Benson, and many others, made this one of my favorite projects."

His most recent children's project was the most ambitious of all: "We started "Elmopalooza" in late 1996, and we finally finished in early 1998! " The huge production was an ABC-TV Prime Time Special, a home video and DVD, and a CD and audiocassette on Sony Wonder. The star-studded guest lineup included Gloria Estefan, Kenny Loggins, Steven Tyler, Celine Dion, the Fugees, En Fogue, Jimmy Buffett, Shawn Colvin and many more. Most of the productions were recorded at least partially in John's own studio: "I was especially proud that I got to produce some of the songs written by my brother-in-law, Jeff Moss, one of Sesame Street's senior writers." On February 24, 1999, John was awarded a Grammy for "Elmopalooza!" which won the award for Best Musical Album For Children.

Throughout his career, John has also worked extensively in the film industry. After placing one of Charlie Daniels' songs in the hit film, "Urban Cowboy," John produced eight more songs for that soundtrack, including the number one smash, "Lookin' For Love" by Johnny Lee. His soundtrack work stretches from "Footloose," to "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," to "Born on the Fourth of July," to the recent "Hope Floats. "

What's next? After purchasing a house in the Hudson Valley in his home state of New York, John has relocated much of his operation to Rhinebeck, while maintaining a condo in Los Angeles. He will be spending most of 2004 working on four projects: a jazz standards album with Linda Ronstadt for Verve Records, an all-new Ronstadt tour which begins in May, an independent CD from singer-songwriter Michael Flynn, and John's highly anticipated book on record production. The volume will combine a history of record production along with a comprehensive "How-To" manual based on John's extensive experience in the studio: "I originally designed it for my production class at UCLA, which I taught for eleven years, but I think it will also appeal to anyone who wants to get into music production of any kind. I promised the publisher I'd have it ready by the end of the year." he says. "I'd better get to work."

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