Gordon Fordyce: Dedicated to Getting Music Heard

Another look into a less observed aspect of the music world, the people controlling all those knobs and switches at the mixing table: Mixing engineer and music editor Gordon Fordyce, who dedicated 35 + professional years to Getting Music Heard, is known for his work with Mötley Crüe and Ozzy Osbourne. (His credits include Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Pat Benatar, Cher, Elton John and The Boomtown Rats as well as the soundtrack of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.)

How did I get into recording?
My love affair with recording blossomed in college. As a drummer, I was obsessed with sound, constantly bugging the sound engineer about every knob and cable. That initial curiosity planted the seed for my entire career. My first job was transferring tapes ( 35mm and 16mm to super 8), learning the ropes from the ground up. Then, fate led me to Tapestry Studios in Barnes, owned by John Kongas. It was there that I truly immersed myself in the world of recording, learning alongside my good friend Steve Dewey, who was slightly ahead on this sonic journey.

The first album I recorded or the first album I worked on as assistant:
At Tapestry Studios, I had the chance to work on Joe Jackson’s debut album, “Look Sharp,” with producer David Kershenbaum. It was an incredible experience, witnessing the birth of such a classic record. I also had the opportunity to lend my skills to the Rich Kids album and Dead Fingers Talk, both under the masterful production of Mick Ronson. Learning from this talented musician and songwriter was truly invaluable.

Then, Tony Visconti came to the studio. It was a thrill to work with such a legend, and he eventually offered me a job at his Soho studio, Good Earth.

Those were the days of Thin Lizzy’s iconic riffs, Bowie’s croons, and Boomtown Rats’ oppositional energy. Working with Lizzy was a blast. Phil Lynott, with his magnetic personality, kept us entertained while we chased perfection in the studio. Brian Downey, the rock-solid drummer, laid down the foundation for their iconic sound.

About Mötley Crüe:
This was my first US gig, a baptism by fire in the wild world of Hollywood recording. Out of the blue, Roy Thomas Baker called me to mix a new band called Mötley Crüe. I showed up at Cherokee studios ready to get set up to mix a band I’d never heard of with a producer I’d only spoken to briefly. They weren’t truly signed at that point, and I was told the deal hinged on the album’s sound.

The multitracks weren’t in the best shape, requiring extensive repairs and creative patching. We replaced many tracks, chopped things up on 2-track, and flew parts in from all over the place. Everything was done in true RTB fashion (as I was to learn), meaning abusing equipment to achieve its most expressive qualities. This was one of Roy’s trademarks, using certain pieces for their compression or distorted qualities. Everything was transferred to Roy’s Stephens 40 track multitrack tape machine first.

I think the roughness of the recording gave the album a certain raw energy that became its signature sound. It’s a testament to the power of imperfection, sometimes embracing the “happy accidents” can lead to something truly special.

The band itself was fantastic. We spent a lot of time hanging out together, building camaraderie and understanding their unique sound.

About Ozzy Osbourne:
This was another highlight, working with Keith Olsen at Goodnight LA on Ozzy Osbourne’s “No Rest For The Wicked.”  The pressure was on! With Zack Wilde joining the band, the goal was to showcase his talent while crafting a monster sound for Ozzy. I remember Keith Olsen saying, “The drum sound we get in the studio will determine if the backings are recorded here.”

It was put on me to deliver, so I got to work with a complex array of mics and strategic gating techniques. The album went to Number 1 on Billboard, one crowning achievement in my career.

Problem recording a band:
Recording can be unpredictable, and yes, there have been bands with creative disagreements that slowed things down. It’s part of the process, sometimes the friction sparks brilliance, other times it’s just… friction.

There was one band, known for their fiery personalities, who once engaged in a marathon debate about a single note, holding us hostage while the clock ticked. In the end, we found a solution, but it was a memorable example of the unexpected twists and turns of recording life.

What am I currently working on?
These days, I wear two hats: One, the art of engineering and mixing and two, the meticulous art of music editing. I recently was the music editor on “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”, which was a great project working on a superhero epic. And on the music side, I’m mixing some tracks with Jack Dekeyzer, a Canadian blues legend, one of which is with Wally Palmer (Romantics) called “No war” for the Ukraine Effort.

I’m also mixing songs for an upcoming Mach Hommy project.

I’m always open to new challenges and collaborations, constantly chasing that next sonic adventure.

Text: John Wisniewski
Gordon’s profile

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GastmitarbeiterInnen / guest contributions

Regular guest contributors e.g. Melanie Kircher, Tatjana Tattis Murschel, Grit Kabiersch, Marina Minkler, Jasmine Frey, Maria Levin, Elvira Visser, Nina Ratavaara, John Wisniewski