With a music career spanning 70 years, Al Schmitt has earned more than 150 gold and platinum albums along with 23 Grammy awards. In ’97 Al became an inductee into the TEC Awards Hall of Fame. In 2015 Schmitt became the first recording engineer to be presented with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame in front of Capitol records. In his candid interview on “Making It with Terry Wollman”, Al shares what it’s like to record some of the world’s greatest recording artists.
Renowned sound engineer for Ray Charles and Paul McCartney
As a child living in New York City, Al Schmitt would catch the subway on weekends to spend the day at his uncle’s recording studio, observing different engineering techniques. At 19, Schmitt began working with Tom Dowd at Apex Studios in New York City. He worked as an independent engineer at Atlantic Records and Prestige Records, and after moving to California, he started working at Radio Recorders.
RCA Records hired Schmitt as a staff producer for their label and a staff engineer at their Hollywood studio. This let Schmitt develop his wide-ranging engineering skills by working with the various pop, jazz, classical, and country … With an unparalleled 24 (twenty-four) Grammy Awards for engineering, Schmitt epitomizes great recording through decades of technological change.
The legendary and world-renowned recording engineer received a Grammy in 2002 for Diana Krall’s “The Look of Love.” Schmitt, who has worked with Krall on her past five albums. Up one aisle you’ll find Frank Sinatra, Henry Mancini, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Miles Davis; up another, you’ll bump into Jefferson Airplane, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Steely Dan.
Round a corner and you’ll encounter Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Madonna, and Quincy Jones mingling with Michael Jackson, Diana Krall, Celine Dion, Paul McCartney, and Michael Buble. Schmitt captured his first Grammy for Best Engineered recording in 1962 for Henry Mancini’s “Hatari”. Nine subsequent Grammy’s in the same category stretched through the decades: 1976: George Benson’s “Breezin’”, 1977: Steely Dan’s “Aja”, 1978: Steely Dan’s “FM”, 1982: Toto’s “Toto IV”, 1991: Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable,” 1996: Quincy Jones’ “Q’s Jook Joint,” Diana Krall’s “When I Look In Your Eyes,” and two Latin Grammys with Luis Miguel.