One, Two, Three, Four: The life and times of a recording studio engineer

One, Two, Three, Four: The life and times of a recording studio engineer

By Richard Digby Smith

Format: Paperback

(1 customer review)

Publication Date: March 28, 2020


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Categories: Sport and Hobbies, Autobiography

ISBN: 9781912881208


In 1969, Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, transformed a de-consecrated church in Notting Hill Gate, West London, into the Basing Street Studios. January 1st 1970, Richard Digby Smith, aged 19, arrived fresh from Birmingham to join the team at Island Records as a staff engineer. This independent record label developed the careers of some of Britain’s leading artists of the day including Bob Marley, Free, Traffic, Cat Stevens, and many more. The studio doors were also open to many of the leading musicians of the period, including Led Zeppelin, Stephen Stills, Harry Nilsson and Joe Cocker...

This memoir is a first-hand account of the early history of an innovative and iconic recording studio.

It also details Richard Digby Smith’s eclectic and extensive repertoire after spending almost 50 years behind the glass in London, Los Angeles and around the world. Alongside his tales of recording experiences, this book gives a first-hand insight into life in Los Angeles during the early 70s, mingling with the Hollywood elite, his battle with drug and alcohol addiction, through to his return to the UK in the mid-80s.

During his career he has played an instrumental role in making Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer and The London Symphony Orchestra sound even better. For a two week period in the late 90s, he was the most successful recording engineer on the planet with number one albums simultaneously in the UK and the Far East.

"Digby is a proper mate of mine. We played in the same football team in LA and his book, One, Two, Three, Four just about sums up his performances on the field of play; he broke One leg of an opposing player, missed Two penalties, received Three red cards and was only selected for the first team Four times in the whole season. He was, however, a top-notch engineer and a jolly good fellow.”  Sir Rod Stewart CBE

"It's many years ago now, from 1970 when I was in Island Studios in Basing Street producing the band with Digs. He was responsible for pressing the record button on many gems from Led Zeppelin..." – Jimmy Page, Lead Guitarist with Led Zeppelin

"Digby is a born musical sound engineer and a true life force... His enthusiasm for music and life comes through on the page as it does in the studio..."– Muff Windwood, Senior/Former A+R Executive (Island and Sony Records)

Richard Digby Smith lives in Torquay, Devon. After many years of reciting anecdotes relating to his eventful recording life to family and friends, he was encouraged to commit them to print. His writings began as simple listings of these extraordinary tales, many of them amusing, some very sad, but they then developed into a full creative journey.


Bob Jacobs (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021

A thoroughly enjoyable read that concentrates on the author’s experiences in the studio, with lots of descriptions of studio engineering techniques and warm appreciation of those who taught him and gave him scope to develop and lots of anecdotes about working with various famous recording artists and living in London and Los Angeles. As the author makes clear, it is all from memory, so there are a few inaccuracies and the occasional grammatical slip that may annoy the more pedantic among us but these do not detract from the overall experience. Nearly all the memories provided are warm and appreciative of those he worked with, including nearly all of Island’s artists and management team.

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