“It’s in the luck of the draw, baby
The natural law
Forget those movies you saw, little baby
It’s in the luck of the draw”
I first met Ed at Mike Greene’s house on June 5, 2010, I remember because it was the date of the Belmont Stakes, Ed wanted to know how I was doing with my leukemia.
Ed cared. He asked me every time I saw him.
And I complimented him on the sound of “Luck Of The Draw.”
It’s rare for an act to exceed their peak later in their career, but that’s what Bonnie Raitt did. Her best LP was her second, 1972’s “Give It Up,” she never equaled it in her run at Warner Brothers. Then she jumped to Capitol and had a massive hit with “Nick Of Time.” Ed engineered that. He partnered up with producer Don Was, they were a team, they even worked with the Rolling Stones. But despite the Grammys and radio success, the follow-up, 1991’s “Luck Of The Draw,” was even better. The tracks most people know are the singles, “Something To Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” but as good as they are, they’re not the best cuts on the album. No, those are the “One Part Be My Lover” and the title cut.
“One part be my lover, one part go away”
That was my ex-wife. The story of Bonnie and her husband Michael O’Keefe resonated with me. My ex dreamed of staying married and living apart. But then she was gone.
But I resonated even more with “Luck Of The Draw.”
“You turn around and say it’s last orders
You fix the ribbon in your hair
Tomorrow’s letter by the hall doorway
Could be the answer to your prayers”
I played this all through the nineties, you need hope, you need to hang on to make it, this was my anthem.
But every cut on “Luck Of The Draw” sounded stupendous, like “Not The Only One.” And “Slow Ride.” And “Come To Me.” I used to fire up the album on the big rig and luxuriate in the sound. Right now I’m listening to it on Amazon Music HD, and you should too.
Now in these days after his death, you’ll learn that Ed not only worked with Bonnie and the Stones, but a who’s who of acts from Clapton to Dylan to… He even did the sound for the Grammy telecast.
But the Grammys and the hits won’t keep you warm at night.
Your personality and your friends will.
Unlike most engineers, too many people behind the board, Ed Cherney was not afraid to speak the truth. Well, at least not to me. It’s rare that you connect with people in this world, that you can be friends, but I felt this resonance with Ed. He never self-promoted, he was always interested in me, he shot straight and we talked not only about music, but…
We went to Rio together last year. Ate dinners together. Everybody would be talking, but then it would just end up us two. I got Ed’s whole life story, from starting in Chicago, after college, yes, Ed was a college graduate, to working with Bruce Swedien to Q to…
Ed married Rose, they couldn’t have kids, but they had a large family, of studio rats, players, all those involved in the production of music.
At first it was supposed to be a clot, something from traveling too much.
But then they drained fifteen pounds of fluid from Ed’s chest and he got scared. This was back in May, June. He wanted to die. I told him life was worth hanging on to. Irving and I worked to get him the best care. Ed stayed with his Cedars-Sinai team. They weren’t sure what kind of cancer it was, two rounds of chemo didn’t work, Ed just went to the City of Hope, but it was too late.
Maybe it was always too late. Like in that Bonnie Raitt song, Ed was not forever, he was just for today.
But now that day has passed.
Ed’s mood brightened when he started on the anti-depressants. But then he got to the point where he couldn’t work. It was going in the wrong direction, he was making peace with his destiny, but not really, he was only 69, he had so much left to do. He had his room at the Village, he and Jeff were buds, he was mixing, although he’d given up producing, he told me unless you write the songs there’s no money in it anymore.
Now Ed did smoke. What effect that had I do not know. But if you’re lucky, you’ll live long enough to want to live longer, you’ll start to get concerned about your health, at least you should be. Two shining examples are David Letterman and Bill Clinton. After their heart troubles both changed their diets and adhered to the rules, they want to live.
We were going to do a podcast. But Ed was never healthy enough between rounds of chemo. Now it’s too late. I wanted to get his story down. Because Ed could tell it, he was not tongue-tied, he could speak.
So for the past few days, I’ve been in a daze, moving in the wrong direction. I’m trying to metabolize Ed’s death. I can’t look at the pictures in the news stories, because I know that guy, I can’t believe I’m never gonna talk to him again, get an e-mail, connect in text.
Ed made an impression on me.
And he made an impression on this world. It’s not only “Luck Of The Draw,” Ed worked on truly classic albums, that will stand the test of time. Hell, you may not even know his name, but you know his work.
“These things we do to keep the flame burnin’
And write our fire in the sky
Another day to see the wheel turnin’
Another avenue to try”
Ed hit the end of the road. But you have not. Ed wrote his fire in the sky, I know he would want you to write yours.
Responses from Bob’s readers. Please note, these comments are not edited for grammar or content.
Bob – I first met Ed when he was Bruce Swedien’s second engineer / understudy on the “Thriller” record at Westlake Audio. Quincy, who loves to give people nicknames dubbed him “Big Joolie” because Ed would affect a Chicago gangster persona when carrying out his duties of cutting and splicing tape to the amusement of all those present.. Big dude with a big heart, who endeared himself to all, who was a joy to be around..I remember seeing him the night of Bonnie and Was’ Grammy victory and tears of joy flowed as we laughed and reminisced about our times together at the University of Quincy. When I think of Ed’s passing my heart aches for Rose his lovey wife and a doyenne of the LA recording studio scene for so many years, Paula Salvatore of Capitol Studios and Rose’s dear friend and studio counterpart, and of course the great Al Schmitt, the Dalai Lama of the mixing desk who was Ed’s mentor, compadre, and studio brother. I was working at Village a few weeks ago across the hall from Ed’s Room and was dead set on crashing his session to shoot the shit with him again, but he was out that day I was told, not feeling well. Since our contact had been intermittent over the last few years I did not know the severity of his condition, and I was bummed that I did not get to see him to see if I could interest him in mixing the project I was working on.
Rest in Peace Big Joolie and thanks for the great laughs, conversations and stellar music you left for us to remember you by..
Woodland Hills, California
I was gutted to hear of Ed’s passing. I knew he was sick.. but not HOW sick till a few days ago.
He was truly one of he most beloved guys in the biz.. EVERYONE loved Ed.
His smile and warmth beamed out to all that were lucky enough to know him and work with him.
First time I met Ed was in 1980 first day I had started on Quincy’s Jones Dude album. I was 23 and he was 30 and we were the younggest guys around and he was Bruce Swediens asst-2nd engineer then. On my first day with Q and Bruce we were cutting ‘ Just Once’ with James Ingram (His first session with Q as well) .
It was ED that saw my young nerves and he was the one that truly made me comfortable before Quincy had showed up. I was out in the studio getting my gear together and he was in setting the mics with Bruce.
We bonded day one and we worked on all of Quincy’s stuff 1980-1988-ishsh till Ed moved up to1st engineer and his career skyrocketed to Producer as well. NO shock there.
He had a way of making everyone feel so comfortable. An aura.. people are born with this you cant ‘ learn it’.
He had it.
I have had the honor of working with the best of the best engineers in my career, Al Schmitt-Elliot Schiener-George Massenburg-Greg Ladanyi- Nico Bolas…etc.. etc.. the who’s -who !
I could go on and on and one thing they ALL have in common?
They all loved Ed as one of the best of the best cause he IS one of the best of the best !
Ed also really made us Muso guys feel great too. That was part of his gift. Making people feel relaxed and good about whats going on.
You get great results this way!
Whenever we saw each other it was hugs, jokes and laughter, and his work speaks for itself.
One can’t leave a better legacy than that!
RIP my old friend..
Unequivocally one of the finest gentleman I’ve met in the business. Candid, caring, soulful with humor always bubbling under the surface. Always brightened the room, but also a staunch and effective advocate for those that plied his craft/art. Immensely important in elevating the stature and recognition of the art of sound engineering.
He touched many, and will be sorely missed – appreciated your thoughts and insights
Eddie. He was -everyones- big brother. Brave, scared, empathetic, sympathetic, bold, curious, tough, innovative, polite, heart on his sleeve, hysterically funny – all wrapped in his huge smile of understanding.
He made everything sound better just walking in the room, because everyone just felt better!
We are all in shock. There is a big empty broken heart in our community of “studio rats”.
We love Eddie. Forever.
You were fortunate to get to know him. Bob. Good for you.
Best always – Niko Bolas
I am so terribly sad to hear of the death of Ed Cherney.
I saw your headline tonight and thought Ed had done a podcast.
I had no idea he was sick.
I saw Ed around L.A. studios for many years and he was always super friendly and talkative.
Ed had gravitas. He worked with the best of the best. He stood for quality.
His work with Don Was was legendary.
“I Can’t make You Love Me” is one of the greatest records of all time.
I saw him a few months ago driving out of Village…
You pretty much nailed who Ed was. I didn’t know him as closely as you seem to have, but in my limited dealings with him (a Live DVD “Wolftrap”) that he engineered for us I got to know Ed the person. He was not only a consummate professional, he treated you like a friend and would help get the mix where you wanted while hanging out and just being a pleasure to be around.
I saw him occasionally at the Village when we did some vocals on World Gone Crazy. It was as though no time had elapsed since sitting in that sound truck six years before and he had the gift of making your presence matter and you felt the same about him.
I’ve known a few people he worked with and I think every one of them would agree. Not only was he a great engineer/producer, he was a great guy.
Gonna miss him.
Thanks for your kind words about our fearless leader Eddie He obviously made an impression on you Its hard to imagine a world without him in it I am sure your in box is gonna blow up with an incredible out pouring of love for him He was revered by us all Ed had that special gift where no matter what, whenever you spent time with him, you left feeling better about yourself and life That gift is a lesson we all should carry forward He was an incredible music maker but even more importantly he was an incredible human being Kind, honest, funny and compassionate Hail Ed Cherney
with love and respect
We all got dealt a bad hand yesterday. As I saw music trades light up with the sad news that Ed had passed, social media blew up from every which way on the stories of Ed Cherney and his kind and loving way. Blues, classic rock, country, soul, pop, it was all passion and heart that made him so special. He was a humble Teddy Bear who had a gentleness about his voice and how he touched people. There was nothing I loved more than coming to the Village and hanging with Ed. I just sat and watched a master at his craft and we would talk music and artists. He was so human and real, no pretense just a humble guy who loved finding the right mix for the music and song. He loved his wife Rose, he loved his home in Venice where he was like an honorary mayor, he loved his dogs, he loved the ocean and his boat. We dreamed of chartering boats, so he got his Captain’s license. He loved golf, he loved travel, he loved to entertain, and he loved people. We cried together on the phone 3 weeks ago, he knew life was drawing short but it just didn’t seem real. Another good guy bites the dust way too soon and I only pray that he realizes how great an impact he had on so many people and the way we hear the music he touched! I had great respect for his talent, but I loved the Man. RIP Ed, Tom Ross
Thanks for sharing your story about everyone’s friend, Ed Cherney. He was a gentle giant, generous with his knowledge and smiles. He was super-confident, expertly competent, yet soberly humble. A friend to all, he went the extra mile to passionately pursue expanded rights for content creators and took leadership roles to guide the way for future generations. All the while, he partnered in one of the deepest romances. Huge shoes to fill, he will be deeply, deeply missed.
I first met Ed while we were both working for Bob Seger. He was recording/mixing at A&M and I was doing the same at Conway. Bob would bounce back and forth between studios. Ed and I would compare notes, commiserate during rough spots, and quickly became friends.
He introduced me to the Audio-Technica 4060 tube microphone, which he had opted to use on Bob’s vocals over the previous favorite, the Neumann 47fet. He turned me on to the fine folks at A-T (Roxanne Ricks, Gary Boss, Michael Edwards), which started a long relationship.
Whenever I saw him years later, he was always warm and generous, asking how I was doing. We would tag team again on the movie project for Cj Vanston, “A Mighty Wind”. I to work with Bob Seger while Ed went on to work with The Rolling Stones and beyond. Bob would pull a song out of the vault that was never released that Ed had tracked and we’d work on it. It was always a pleasure to push up the faders and mix his tracks.
But I’m sure his greatest accomplishment in the industry was winning the heart of everyone’s sweetheart, Rose Mann-Cherney. Rose ran Conway Studios and later the Record Plant and is a giant in the industry, in her own right. Their love affair played out on Facebook for all to see and recently clicked off some 30 years together… no minor fete in this industry.
My heart goes out to Rose and everyone who had the pleasure of being in the glow of Ed’s big smile. I will miss his hugs, his leadership, and his friendship.
Bob…I was totally devastated to hear about Ed. I had not had contact with him in quite a while, and didn’t even know he was ill. I’m still in shock. I’ve worked with Ed with the Stones and numerous other projects, including that he graciously agreed to mix my “Back To The Woods: A Tribute to the Pioneers of Blues Piano” record. Ed had the best set of ears of anyone I’ve worked with. He could hear around corners. We spent many hours together talking about music, recording techniques, and just life in general. He was such a joyous soul, so fun to be with, had that great smile and wonderful laugh. And as we know, he was the Best of the Best at his trade. It’s hard to think that I can’t call him up and hear his voice and just talk. My love and good vibes go to his sweet and beautiful wife, Rose, whom he spoke of often…always in grateful and glowing terms.
Thank you, Ed…for your amazing talent, the incredible body of work you have amassed, and above all, for your friendship and just for being you. RIP, my Brother
I met Ed Cherney by chance in a line to see a gig at SXSW. We instantly got along and we ending up spending a very late night together just sharing stories, drinking and eating.. It’s always refreshing to meet people in this business who are not about bullshit and will speak honestly and Ed was definitely one of those guys.
It was heartbreaking to hear the sad news of his death, another one of the good guys gone, and more importantly a very special man.
To say ED was kind, humble, funny would not do him justice, he was one of those great people that if you are lucky, you get to meet in this lifetime. On top of that of course, Ed was an audio legend and had all the stories to go along with the records he made!
I texted Ed recently and although he told me about his illness, he was still upbeat and positive and making jokes, as Ed would. The last thing he said was ‘Love you’ and then 4 weeks later he was gone.
I was lucky enough to mix two of the last records that Ed recorded. One was for Jeff Goldblum, the other for Luciana Souza (the female jazz artist married to Larry Klein) Of course both of the sessions he sent were beautifully recorded and it was a joy to mix them. You don’t get too many people these days who know how to record things that well, he made my job easy!
While serving as Trustees for the Academy, as you would expect, the meetings can be long but with Ed in the room, things were always brighter, he took the sting out of the long days and afterwards we would head to the bar to sit and exchange war stories.
I am grateful for all the good time we spent together, all the stories he told me, and all the advice he gave me. He really was the best of us.
I miss him so much already.
Thanks for everything Eddie.
Very sad to hear of Ed’s passing.
Just writing to commiserate.
I knew Ed from a long time ago when I worked at The Hit Factory.
I assisted him on some projects. He loved to chill in the control Room with a joint and get into the background detail of the mix, which I never saw anyone do. We were working on a Neve VR. He would de assign the instruments from the 2 mix and listen to all the effects, all the stuff that was riding in the background and not featured, then make that sound cooler on it’s own, then add it back to the mix. It was magical.
This was in 89 or 90. I saw him a few more times many years later, and he always had that cool smile. Acted like he remembered, but he didn’t. But that was cool.
When I was working at Record Plant as an engineer mixer, I met Rose, and she was so great to chat with. After I told her I knew Ed from way back etc, she invited me to go on a cruise on their boat with Ed on a day off. It was really special. Was like re connecting with an old friend.
He was just as slick as a captain as he was a mixer. When we returned to port, we were in the middle of a convo, he lets go of the wheel, kills the engines, and keeps talking to me, and I’m looking around watching us glide perfectly into the slip and gently come to a perfect stop like it was nothing. I asked, how the F did you do that?? He just smiled that smile.
They were both so generous when I was at Record Plant.
A handful of years ago I saw him at an AES show, we talked, he looked like he remembered, but could tell he didn’t really, so I asked. He apologized and said something like “look, I’m on all kinds of meds.”
We went out for a drink and I re told him the old stories. Such a talent, and warm soul. He will be missed. My sympathies/condolences to Rose and all of their family and friends.
Thanks for the great words about Ed. I think so many of us are trying to make sense of his passing right now. Many (most?) of those giving tributes on my Facebook feed – myself included – weren’t aware of Ed’s health challenges, so it was all a shock to so many of us. When I awoke yesterday morning and saw Rose’s post, I was simply dumbstruck. Like, literally stopped in my tracks; I had to lean back on my couch, take a deep breath and try to come to grips with what I was reading.
You’re going to get many responses to your loving email, because, like you, we ALL loved Ed Cherney. You meet people in this business, they come and they go, but Ed…he was like your best friend whenever you saw him. I mean, he was JUST THAT GUY that you instantly felt kinship with, no matter if you’re Keef (who tweeted yesterday about Ed’s passing) or just a runner at the studio.
Ed’s passing has hit me in a “what the fuck is life all about anyway?” kind of way. I mean, he was 69, for God’s sake. WTF? Life can be just so darn random. Hard to make sense of it.
Ed was JUST THAT GUY. I know this one is going to leave a mark on so many of us. And for a long, long time.
John Van Nest
Thank you for honoring Ed. For many years, I had the opportunity to work with Ed and his band of studio wizard pals (The META Alliance as they were officially known: Ed, Frank Filipetti, Al Schmidt, Elliot “ELS” Scheiner and of course Phil Ramone). Ed was Grammy/Recording Academy royalty, but he presented himself as “one of the guys”, complete with a hearty laugh and no BS approach to all projects and conversations. Like the artists he worked with, Ed was magical and bigger than life. If I recall correctly, the sign above his studio door read “STFU” or something like that. That’s appropriate, as Ed just let the music do the talking. Miss ya dude. RIP
Ed and I became friends back in 1994 when I was working for A&M and he had just finished working on the Jann Arden project “Time For Mercy”. We bonded over many conversations about our love for Bonnie Raitt and continued our friendship over long distance for over 25 years. He would say to me “Listen to music with your heart not your ears” and I took his advice to heart in every project I worked on going forward. His passion for getting it right was unrivaled and he knew how to dig down deep and get the best performance possible from anyone he worked with.
When I came out of retirement to work with an artist who I thought was absolutely fantastic back in 2016,the first person I contacted and asked their opinion was Ed. I sent him her music and within a week I had an e mail from him telling me he thought she was wonderful and a once in a lifetime find and was happy that I had found her. He also said when the time was right I could call on him to be there. I had spoken to him about a month ago and let him know that she was going in the studio again with a very cool concept and he said to make sure that when I came out there in January for NAMM to make sure we had some time together as he was excited to hear her new stuff in a studio setting.
When I was driving back from Nashville to Atlanta yesterday I got a text telling me of his passing and I just had to pull to the side of the road and let the tears flow. You meet so many people in this business. It is so very rare that you meet someone like Ed that totally captures your attention and admiration because they are REAL. Ed was the real deal. WYSIWYG. I am a much better human being because I knew him. Rest In Peace Ed, you will never be forgotten.
We were lucky enough to have the honour of working with Ed in Studio D of the Village. What a big heart, almost couldn’t fit in the room with a heart so big. He was real, down to earth, had this huge smile… and although we were a little nervous when Paul Broucek took us in to record with him, he just made it so… easy, such fun.
He got this sound out of Matt Chamberlain’s kit that was crisp and snappy but had depth like nothing else I’ve ever heard; he got the music.
My favourite moment was where he came into Stevie’s booth in D and asked me to play the Martin acoustic… he came right up to me, bent over, tilted his head around, went and crouched behind my chair, moving round the room whilst I was playing. I remember wondering what he was doing, if he was gonna say the guitar needed new strings, or a setup, but actually he was just figuring out where to place the mics.
Ed was amazing because he had the stories, the experience and wisdom of a genuine legend and he will always be in our hearts. He was legit, the real deal and although I said it was an honour working with him, the honour was actually just getting to hang out and be in the room with him. He came along to some of our shows which we were over the moon about – and ended up mixing some tracks for our album; I think it might have been some of the last work he did on this earth before he went up to enjoy the epic 18 hole courses in the sky.
Your piece was very touching, Bob, thank you for sharing your memories of Ed, even if they are heartbreaking.
Max Luck, The Luck
My brother emailed you about our experience meeting and working with Ed earlier – I couldn’t have said it any better although I wanted to add that Ed had a profound impact on me as a developing artist. He is obviously most known for his work with the greats but his encouragement and nurturing side of two musicians from the UK, far from home and just starting out came across the moment we met him. And last night as I shed some tears I realised THAT is what I hope to do in my life, more than anything. I want to show people I care, show people they are loved, help them be the best they can be and encourage them as much as I can, as Ed did. If I can give to people even half of what he gave to those around him, I’ll be doing good! He was truly a legend and I feel so privileged to have spent some time with him… Among his nuggets of wisdom, there is one thing I think of every time I get on stage or in the recording booth; don’t think. Let it all go and the performance will flow. Probably some of the best advice I’ve ever had.
Esmay Luck, The Luck
I got to know Ed first when our band Idle Tears recorded up at Caribou Ranch in 1983. We were also from Chicago and immediately hit it off. You described him perfectly but left out how freekin hysterical he was. Quick, whip smart, ridiculously talented and always the most humble guy in the room. Seeing him behind the board while we would record always put us at ease. His mantra was to be “open, honest and giving” and he always was. Then we moved to LA in 85 and he recorded our record for MCA. Same deal. Ed was Ed. Open honest and giving. And hysterical. And that’s where we met Rose. What a perfect match. Rose is the best.
Last time I saw him was in the early 90s after his huge hits. But still same ole Eddie.
Too weird to think he’s gone. It’s surreal.
Will always love you Eddie!
In addition to Ed’s undeniable charm, his compassion and empathy was always out front.
Not just for everyone he worked with, but for nearly everyone he met.
But it was his immense Talent as an engineer and mixer that put him in the very top tier.
Certainly, as you said Bob, since Bonnie’s “Luck of the Draw.”
On that record, the sounds Ed captured, and the balances he mixed, were perfect.
And contributed to making a great record even greater.
Which is what the very best engineers do.
I’ve known Ed since about ’77 in the studios in Chicago.
We were both Asst. Engineers on Ohio Players records.
We both assisted Bruce Swedien in Chicago.
Ed followed Bruce out to LA and Quincy-world.
But it wasn’t long before Ed himself was a true world-class Mixer.
He put in the work of course.
But he had the chops, and that’s more rare than you’d think.
At Ed’s level it was his Talent, his ear, his creativity, his smarts, and his heart, that made the difference.
A big difference.
That’s the only way you get to work with Bonnie, Dylan, Jackson, Seger, Willie, Clapton, the Stones, and a million more.
Ed loved Engineering and Engineers.
And devoted tons of time to making the profession better.
A Great Mixer.
Beautiful tribute Bob. Ed was one of the last Audio Art angels. The reason why we jumped into this magic bus. The music his fingers and ears touched will still be playing in space stations long after we are all gone. RIP Edward.
Kenny Lee Lewis
Amen to all of it.
Mostly, when friends die, it takes me a while to metabolize the information; I get sad over time.
This time, with Ed, it was instantaneous. I heard his voice as clear as day, he was so present.
Peace, Love and Lots of Laughs, Eddie.
like you and his family/friends, I’m feeling it…mostly 4 Rose.
Ed was her universe, her rock
He made us all feel good
Ed made it fun
he kept creating
making a difference
P&E wing, Met Alliance, Recording Industry Golf (benefiting ‘A Place Called Home’)…all his brainchildren Ed worked w the stars but He was our STAR A beautiful life (though deeply missed) never dies.
Circle of Life
when my best friend died at 55 (#f***Cancer) the chaplain said: it’s her journey lost my mom at 102 in August doesn’t matter how old our loved ones are how long they live we miss them when they’re Irreplaceable Ed is
Thanks for the notes Bob
please take care,
I can’t believe he’s gone. Thank you for such a beautiful account of your friendship. He was this incredible light that came into our lives and made us all better just by being himself and being so present and engaged and putting that energy into the music he made as well. I’ve got tears running down my face reading your words. So meaningful.
This is so sad. I knew Ed and Rose separately before they got together. Then, completely by chance, we shared a duplex in Venice before Ed and Rose moved to the canals.
I heard the whole Bonnie Raitt album, a track at a time, through the ceiling when Ed came home from the studio every night, and did my own studio business with Rose talking from balcony to balcony. We were a music house for sure.
Everything you say here is true. Ed was (still very hard to say “was”) a real talent and a warm, wonderful guy.
Rose…I dont even have words. She’s a legend and my heart breaks for her even as I know she will keep the music coming…
My best wishes also to Don, and to all the rest of us sharing this loss.
As always, the music lives on.
Thank you Bob,
This is such sad news.
I grew up with Eddie in Skokie, a suburb just north of Chicago. It was the 60’s. There were kids living in every house for blocks-and-blocks. No empty nesters in our neighborhood.
He was four or five years older than me and my pals but we all looked up to him. Thought he was the coolest cat in the ‘hood. If we were playing a game of choose-up football in the schoolyard across from his house, he’d join us, uninvited, as the “all-time quarterback” and teach us how to run different routes and pass patterns. And he had a solid arm! He was bigger than us so it was great that he only played quarterback for both teams and we didn’t have to get blocked by him. And yes, he did smoke. I have a vivid picture in my mind of him in a worn out and tattered white sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off, throwing passes with a “fag” hanging out of his mouth. Funny how when you’re young and impressionable, that’s part of what made a kid a few years older seem cool!
He didn’t like to lose, so being quarterback for both teams always assured him of a win. I remember once when he wanted a game to go into sudden death overtime. It was 4th down. He was so pissed when I dropped a perfect pass from him….”Goddammit Ricky Cooper! Catch the fuckin’ ball!” Needless to say, the game was over.
I ran into Eddie several times on trips to LA….visiting labels, at shows, etc. His personality never changed in spite of his success. He still called me “Butterfingers.” He always asked about people from back home and even went as far as calling me to ask for his boyhood next door neighbor, Barry’s cell number when he heard that Barry had serious cancer. That made Barry’s day!
I didn’t know he was sick. Had I, I’d have reached out just to know laugh about the silly memories.
I only met Rose once, in passing at a restaurant in LA. Never got to know her. My heart goes out to her, his brother Chucky (a great photojournalist!) his sis, Lesley, the rest of the family and of course to his army of friends.
Thanks for your kind words, Bob.
Oh damn. Ed was on an album we did early 90’s with Don. A gentleman.
Am not a big fan of writing commentary, but your words resonated with me.
Yesterday, the phone, email, etc. rang and beeped all too often with the news of Ed. At first i didn’t;t believe what I was hearing, then it all to rapidly became reality.
I will miss your smile
I will miss our occasional conversation at pro audio shows (we were both regulars – he was always a joy to be with) I will miss your ideas, your vision, your tales, your dreams, your attention to details, your amazing ability to listen carefully
but I will not miss your music – it is here to stay and you holding hands with Rose will make all of us smile.
Bob, thanks for putting words on paper so that people like myself who are much better with drawings and shapes can stop for a moment; read and reflect.
I will now hit Bonnie on Tidal and keep smiling
What a beautiful tribute to your friend Ed Cherney. As an audio engineer myself; I have always loved Ed’s work and have always looked to his mixes as a textbook for my mixing style.
I know that he won the Best Engineered Album Grammy for Bonnie’s “Longing For Their Hearts.” However, Ed’s best mixes in my opinion are with Bonnie and Don. They were “Nick of Time” off of “Nick of Time” and “Not the Only One” off of “Luck of the Draw.”
For me, those tracks are the quintessential West Coast AC sound of the late ‘80s to mid ‘90s that was heard all over FM AC radio. “The Road’s My Middle Name” is a great blues mix of Ed’s.
Even though I’m only 37, I do listen and collect vinyl. I am going to fire up my Pro-ject turntable and spin “Nick of Time.” I will always be grateful for Ed Cherney’s touch on a great album.
Thanks as always for a great newsletter and radio show.
Ed was a gentle soul.
A nice person . A good man. A great engineer. We were friends a very long time.
The last time I saw him was at a poker game at the Goldberg’s in Laurel Canyon, not that long ago.
I will miss him.
Probably his most overlooked masterpiece as a producer is “Insensitive”, recorded by Jann Arden and written by Ann Loree in 1994. It’s a special record.
Thanks, Bob, we lost a really wonderful guy, Leanne Ungar
Ed Cherney was a such a bright light and gave so much of himself to the world.
I will miss his big smile and heart.
Amen. Amen Amen.
Ed Cherney was the first engineer I worked with as a guitarist at The Village. He listened to me play for a few minutes, adjusted the mics and somehow got my acoustic guitar to sound sweet, warm, big yet still fit in the mix. He spoiled it for me. The next engineer on the next session made sure it was about “him” and who he had worked with, not getting the best sound of my guitar. The track suffered for it.
Years later I asked him to come to my project studio near the Baked Potato to help me set up and achieve the same sound so I could record on my schedule. I asked what gear to buy to have ready for him. He said “Don’t buy anything! Let me come hear what you have.” I guess he assumed I would know enough to have purchased some kind of entry level quality gear. Which were 2 AT 4060’s and a Jensen preamp. He said, “those AT’s are what I use! Frank Fillipetti too! And that Jensen is amazingly clean. You can record a concert piano, an orchestra or a choir. Your guitar and vocal with these three pieces of gear are enough.” Then he set them up, adjusted the preamp levels, the interface level and created a template in Logic. He took pictures of the mics in the studio, the levels on the preamp, told me where to sit or stand to play and sing in relationship to the mics. My entire first album that got scrapped at Warners did not sound as good. He made it sound fucking amazing. So I offer to go to lunch and he takes me to a Mexican place nearby. He liked their guac. I thanked him for helping me and asked why he was being so nice to me? My experience in LA was ego-based producers/engineers. He said, “I’m from Chicago!”
I have learned that actually means something. Years later I’m driving through Chicago to LA, I get lost in downtown Chicago. In the rain. I’m slowing down. The car behind me flashes the high beams and honks at me. I pull over, put my flashers on. The guy gets out of the car, knocks on my window. In the rain! I explain I’m lost and can’t make sense of the exit signs. He says he’ll be right back. He runs back to his car, brings back a map with a scribble on it. He explains the directions, and says he wrote down his wife’s home number to call in case I get lost again, that he left his cell phone home. Like a personal AAA visit. I laugh and say, “People from Chicago ARE the nicest in the country!” He asks me who else I know from Chicago and when I say “Ed Cherney” he laughs and says, “I went to high-school with him, he’s in LA now I think.”
I told Ed this at NAMM over a taco with less than amazing guac. He laughed but then pushed a little and asked me where my new album was and when I explained the frustration of the industry, labels, sales, mp3s, that I started producing others instead to maybe help them learn from what I learned, he encouraged me. “You’ll be a great producer because you’re a songwriter who can sing. You know the beast AND you know how to get the sounds now so you’ll put ME out of work!” Which of course was not true. I would have given anything to have him engineer it. He was waiting to do a panel about recording where, as we walked up to the escalator, he was swarmed with fans like he was McCartney. Big smile. I was proud he enjoyed it. As we said goodbye while he ascended up the escalator he pointed at me and yelled, “Finish your album! And let ME mix it!”
At that panel he spoke about what was wrong with production and shitty songwriting and nonsingers being produced in the box by “producers” who had never set foot in a real studio. He said, “I can help you all fix all of these problems. But none of you are going to do it because you’re all addicted.” Everyone was waiting to hear the wise words, as if he had the name of a new microphone, or preamp, or plugin that would make every record sound like k.d. Lang’s, or Bonnie Raitt’s, and he said, “Ready?” The audience all looked on to hear the magic. He said, “turn off your fucking computer monitors and stop looking at wave files and plugins! Use your fucking ears!” It was hysterical. Because he had nailed it. “I can promise you I can tell the difference between a record mixed with ears instead of eyes, and then you play the volume wars and turn your shit up with a compressor to hide the problems in your mixes, that’s why there’s so much average content out now. You guys aren’t doing your homework. Everyone can afford the gear and the software but that does not mean you know how to use it. Go to a concert of baroque music, go hear an opera at Disney Hall. Listen to music, not beats, not loops. Hire a drummer, bassist and guitarist. I promise you’ll have content much better than loops based music that you do yourself.”
And you’re right about Luck of The Draw, Bob. My favorite is All At Once, about Bonnie’s mom. Every instrument on that album has a place that fills your ears with perfection. Soulful. Magical. The playing. The singing. David Cambell’s string arrangements. You can hear the room ambience on the drums, the acoustic guitars breathe, the electric guitars completely separate from Bonnie’s slide, David Lasley and Arnold McCuller’s BV’s. All audible without trashing your ears. Perfection.
He was one of the ones you knew would always return a call, even if it was after a session at the end of the night on the way home in the car.
RIP Ed. Thank you for everything.
Ed mixed our sound in 1981-82 at Club Lingerie for a few bucks a night. Ever since then we kept in touch and seemed to find our way to working with him on different projects throughout the years including engineering and producing tracks for our records and he often used our horn section on many of the records he was working on including Bonnie Rait. Ed was always a great vibe, a sweet, warm, funny guy with a big smile.
I had a fantastic experience with him in Cuba in 1999. A fantastic bunch of great musicians, writers, producers and sound engineers went there on a musical Cultural exchange with the best Cuban musicians. We set up three recording studios in the Hotel Nacional in Havana and I was assigned to one along with Dennis Mays, Don Was and Ed Cherney. We recorded all these musicians, Cubans and Americans in foursomes after they finished collaborating on a song. On the last night we were there we all got to meet Castro one on one. I am sure there is a picture of Ed and Fidel somewhere. Ed was known as Edwardo on that trip and ever since then he was always Edwardo to me.
I am so sorry for his family and the loss that all of us who knew him are now feeling. This Sucks!
I’ll always remember that big beautiful smile.
(Jack Mack and the Heart Attack).
If you’re lucky as a session drummer you’ll occasionally get to work with an engineer and or producer on Ed’s level. He just had it flowing through him, he got the music, he got the tones, he got the vibes, he’d get the take! One day I’m listening to a demo from the songwriter, acoustic guitar and vocal, and I mention to Ed, “hey man, can we get a 70’s sound on the drums on this one? Ya know, like an Ohio Players record?” Ed starts taping towels to my toms and says, “oh yeah, I think we can do that,” and walks back into the control room. His assistant looks at me and says, “Ed recorded Ohio Players.”
Loved that guy.
We must meet someday and someplace but not yet today. You’ve moved me and I bet many others in the moment. You mention a few of the folks I ask for help and help me in this “whats left of biz”.
I thank you for your candor and authenticity in writing about Ed. He was certainly an amazing person, engineer, husband – the whole deal.
I met Rose as a young 23 year old working at the old record plant on 3rd street with Ron Nevison. The place was buzzing with creativity! The bands, the creativity, the producers and the engineers. Many of which Rose Mann helped by giving them a job as an assistant. That’s a long list.
But at this moment I’m simply happy to have been around it and to have worked with these amazing people, like Ed.
I call Ed and The MetAalliance Guys “the original seven.” From Ed, to Chuck, to Elliot, to Bill, to Frank Filipetti, who I worked with a few times over the years, and onward, they’re like The Gemini Astronauts they sat on the Rocket with guts and a talent not noticed at the time. To this day these killer engineers promote better engineered records They share their secrets and promote the art of engineering. They teach recording and the knowledge of how to all from the guys who paved the road for those who walked on the moon! They received recognition but I always felt it came later.
Thank you for sharing your story Bob, it’s an easier time with your words to the original seven, and me.
I’d like to meet you sometime Bob. To hear your stories and share mine. I moved through the best decade plus of recording without making a fuss. I worked with amazing people without caring about anything other than those with the real talent, like Ed Cherney. We both know Kenny Aronoff, our good friend, may not be the Kenny he is today without Ed Cherney.
May you rest in calm waters and find a comfort zone Bob. You’re a contributor and not a spectator and that is only a good thing. Keep contributing.
Ed was such a positive force. I was lucky to be able to serve as a trustee with him. Taught me a ton and always, always made me laugh. He commanded that room with his personality and skills. What a tremendous loss. We should all strive to be a bit more like Ed. I think that’s how you honor good people when they pass.
Ed and Rose are (2) of the coolest people I ever met. That damn “hot tub” at plant was insane. That’s a Book in itself. I still have my original Plant sweat tops (black and grey) …I still get a laugh thinking about it as I was coordinating sessions with Ja Rule and JLo and Ja running around no shirt all sweaty And the coolest book store right across the street
Ed was the man and Rose rocks
yes, YES! Everything you say is true. About Bonnie, “Luck of the Draw,” Ed.
He had the heart, the talk, but especially the wonder about who that person next to him was.
He produced incredible acts, engineered albums for the ages, but he also made magic with tiny artists most missed.
I remember running into him on the outdoor patio at Sunset Grille in, maybe, 1990. Big Cheshire grin, blond hair flopping in that wavy way — and we caught up.
He was producing this kid — Kevin Montgomery — for A&M. I knew him as publisher/songwriter Bob Montgomery’s son (Doroth Moore’s soul sad “Misty Blue” being the big hit). You’d’ve thought it was Jagger’s solo album from his enthusiasm for the sessions, the joy in talking about the players.
“Red Blooded American Boy” is that flicker of innocence and desire, the urgency to get on with it, the pause of not quite knowing how. Kevin had a moment, then it faltered, though he’s still making his own records, still undertaking small tours, still a big deal in the UK.
And that’s the fire Ed knew how to light! Even in kids who should’ve known better — and did.
Here’s to the ones who make us more — Just got back from the celebration of Phran Galante, and am feeling the throb of the holes + the warmth of the blessing knowing these folks truly is.
Thanks for your beautiful piece on Ed. He was truly a talent and gem of a person. Always there with a smile and a story. Frankly, I don’t know anyone that didn’t like and admire Ed. Having worked on a few Projects with him, I was always amazed how easy he made it seem. And, sitting with him for many years on the Los Angeles Chapter Grammy Board, his heart was always in the right place. He will truly be missed by many.
David A. Helfant
You don’t get better than Ed.
We passed each other a few times at shows and events and talked about gear and speakers. He always entered the conversation as if he understood everything you were talking about…and he probably did. But sufficed to say he always made you feel equal.
People often wonder how one gets to the top of the heap thinking it’s all luck. Ed would say there is some luck, but he embodied all the other moments that crystallize success.; Time, Talent, Attitude, Passion, Empathy, Desire, Respect and Energy.
You’ll never get better than Ed.
God rest his soul forever…
I was a student in USC’s music industry program about 15 years ago. One of my professors was close friends with Ed. He attended one of our classes and spoke about his experiences in the industry, including his time with Bonnie Raitt. I remember asking him a few questions about mixing in surround sound after class (this was around the time he was mixing the Rolling Stones, if memory serves me). He seemed genuinely interested in the students and their questions. For such a successful person, he seemed so down to earth and willing to share. I only had a moment of his time, but it made an impression on me. Every time I hear “I can’t make you love me” I think of that day!
WHY WHY WHY?
Thank you Bob.
I’ve never seen more love, coming from everywhere then I’ve seen for Ed.
I’m crushed, I was in the room with Rose, Leslie his sister and their niece, Maggie when he took his last breath.
The 4 Kings of the legendary producer/engineers: Chuck Ainley, Al Schmitt, George Massenberg and Elliott Shiner came from all points in the US and Canada to share the vigil with Rose.
I have no language for this
Thanks for your sweet words
I can’t thank you enough for what you wrote about Ed. You said many things that even his closest friends haven’t said yet.
I flew into LA last weekend before Ed left us. We were all there…. Chuck, Al, George and Jim, the way Ed was always there for us.
Rose treated us all like the family we’ve been for decades. I don’t know how she does it, and I don’t know what we’re gonna do without him.
I counted my best friends in life as Ed Cherney and Glenn Frey. I never thought we’d be living in a world without them.
Thanks for being Ed’s friend.
I had the ultimate pleasure of working with Ed on 7 different Stones projects from all over the world.
I could easily echo what everyone has already said. Instead, I will simply state that I truly loved him, and that is a huge understatement. I only wish he was here to experience what people are saying about him.
A shining example of what it is to be a professional and how to live a life.
Thank you for your warm tribute to Ed Cherney, who is most deserving. Eddie and I first met in 1988 on the film Coming to America, which was Nile Rodgers’ first attempt at scoring a major movie. The 3 of us, along with Nile’s programmer, spent 6 weeks together in a now-gone recording/mixing room on the Paramount lot. I was excited to collaborate with Nile, who was a star by then; he was terrific and still is–a genuine talent and a truly good person. But Eddie was the guy we all fell in love with. It quickly became clear why he had a circle of close friends comprised of the biz’ beloved best and brightest brothers: Phil Ramone, Al Schmitt, Elliott Scheiner, George Massenburg, Bruce Swedien, Jeff Greenberg, Chuck Ainley, and more. And fans of Eddie and Rose were over the moon when those 2 fell in love and married. Anyone visiting them either in the studio or at their home in the Venice Canals rightfully felt blessed to share in their joy and good will. This is a tough loss for a lotta folks because you just can’t replace someone so large in life–Eddie was a swashbuckler for sure.
I was out of town when I got word of Ed?s passing, just got home last night. I was stunned to hear of his death, had no idea he was ill.
Ed and I got to know each other at NARAS Governors meetings maybe 15 years ago. We knew each other initially from his work with my friend Kevin Montgomery way back in the early 90s. He was always warm and gracious, and in the room gave the Producers & Engineers Wing his best efforts.
Ed was always supportive even if it was’?t his project. No better a time than when Ed “blessed” Steve Postell’s studio when we started my album there in 2013. I was the first guy in at Steve’s, doing a record that took five years to make. He gave us some different mic placement ideas for upright bass, which I wanted throughout and is always a bear to record properly. His input made a huge difference, and set us on exactly the right road.
He was that way. Didn’t matter if you were Bonnie or li’l ol’ me, he was helpful, upbeat, way fucking cool and generous with his time and talent. I actually credited him on the liners for blessing the studio, and got a copy to him through a mutual friend late last year. Wish I had known he was ill, never gonna forget him or his friendship.
I am so grateful for your love and honoring of Eddie Cherney.
I knew Eddie from Paragon Studios in Chicago where he was an apprentice with Harry Andronis under the eye of Marty Feldman and Dick Blumenthal. I was the bookkeeper and only dealt with the $. The Ohio Players were there during the night, and the daytime stories were hysterical. We were young and full of fun and music. Eddie was already a superstar. Styxx recorded in the daytime with Barry Mraz. Life was beautiful and always filled with music.
Eddie shared his life and his music with all of us, and we are grateful. My deepest sympathy to Eddie’s beloved Rose and to Chucky and Leslie.
To everyone who knew and loved Ed Cherney – you were blessed.
I did not know Ed very well. We did know each other From all of the interconnected people that we each knew I used to see him in different studios in LA When I was out there working and I saw him at many AES shows..Every time I saw him he acted like we were great friends and was so friendly and funny for our short time spent together. He was a giant in his field and was highly regarded and recognize it by so many greats..Would’ve been very easy for him just to blow me off when he saw me but he always took a couple of minutes to talk see what I was working on and just left me with an incredibly good vibe all the time..It really pisses me off when beautiful people suffer with a terrible disease it doesn’t make an end of life easy..So I’m going to try and just remember how he was and when I meet somebody that maybe I don’t know that well I will act the way Ed acted towards me..RIP Peace, Jason Miles