Chuck Shute Podcast

Ron Nevison (music producer & engineer)

July 27, 2022 Ron Nevison Season 4 Episode 265
Chuck Shute Podcast
Ron Nevison (music producer & engineer)
Show Notes Transcript

Ron Nevison is a prolific music producer and engineer. Some of the artists he’s worked with include The Who, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Heart, Survivor, Vince Neil, & Damn Yankees. His career highlights include many of the record industry’s highest distinctions, including his being recognized as Billboard Magazine’s ‘Top-5 Producers of the Year’ four separate times, garnering countless Grammy-nominated and winning hit singles & albums, and producing a host of multi-platinum and gold-selling albums, well over 100 million total. In this episode we cover his whole career and he’s got some great stories I don’t want to spoil here! 

0:00:00 - Intro 
0:00:40 - Early Musical Beginnings 
0:08:25 - Working with The Who 
0:10:55 - Led Zeppelin & Physical Graffiti 
0:17:05 - Remastering Albums 
0:18:35 - Thin Lizzy, Michael Schenker & UFO 
0:25:05 - Jefferson Airplane & Starship 
0:27:53 - Hard Rock on Radio 
0:29:03 - Ozzy Osbourne 
0:31:02 - Kiss 
0:33:22 - Kee Marcello & Diane Warren 
0:35:35 - Outside Songwriters & Heart
0:42:40 - Ted Nugent & Damn Yankees 
0:49:45 - Vince Neil & Steve Stevens 
0:55:33 - Firehouse 
0:57:05 - Mike Clink & Guns 'N Roses 
1:01:40 - Upcoming Book & Path to Success 
1:05:10 - Doctors Without Borders
1:05:50 - Outro 

Ron Nevison website:
https://ronnevison.com

Chuck Shute website:
https://chuckshute.com

Doctors Without Borders website:
https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

Support the show

Thanks for Listening & Shute for the Moon!

Chuck Shute:

Coming up on the show today we have legendary music producer and engineer Ron Nevison. Some of the legends he's worked with include kiss the WHO Led Zeppelin Ozzy Osbourne heat, survivors heat heart. He's one of the men Damn Yankees, Vince Neil firehouse, Bad Company, the list goes on and on and on. He's also worked with legendary producer of his own right Mike clink before that guy went on to work with Guns and Roses. He's got tons of great stories from an amazing career stick around there's so much to go over, but I want to just go over your whole career if we can in about an hour. I mean, you start as a singer, right? You start in a choir and then and then you're a backup singer. Is that how it started? Right?

Ron Nevison:

Yeah, my teacher, my third grade teacher told my mom that I had art artistic kind of talent to send me to art school. So I went to Temple University called the Tyler School of Fine Arts in Philly, where I grew up, okay. And I did a semester on Saturdays drawing and I heard them in the next room, I heard them singing and I saw I kind of graduated to the choir and became a soloist. After a couple of years, that soprano because I was like 11, you know, and after by 12 or 13, I grew out of it didn't want to wear robes anymore. And so yeah, I was singing in like hallways and in the subway, kind of like terminals with my little band and we did a couple of gigs. A band called The del Lord's.

Unknown:

Okay, so then when you start, because then you start setting up PA systems for bands and you kind of eventually become a roadie with traffic and Derek and the dominoes. So how do you go from that to roadie?

Ron Nevison:

Yeah, you know, I was I decided I wanted to maybe be a concert promoter. So I was working at this at this shop and Philly selling bell bottoms and the guy that owned the store, we went in together, he put up the money and I promoted a Vanilla Fudge concert in Allentown, Pennsylvania. And one of the parts the rider I had to provide a sound system, I had a daughter I had to hire a sound system. So I hired the festival group sound system local places until we and ended up the concert didn't work out. terms of like, we broke even. I got to make friends with Dave Hagler, the guy that ran the sound company and he hired me. So then I started that started my audio career, went from singer to going out, humping gear and eventually worked myself up to Front of House mixer.

Chuck Shute:

So how did you initially get the thing for promoting Vanilla Fudge? Like, how did that come about? How did you?

Ron Nevison:

Well, we it was like a headshot. We were in this. In this we're in 1967 or 68. We're right in the hub and Philly right there and downtown, where all the hippies were, and it was that time, you know, have a great time to be around. And we were I was a musician. And you know, I was looking for some way to get into the I even consider being a manager I was, you know, I was gonna go in a band. I was looking for a way in. And it just so happened that I got dragged into this festival group festival group. And I also did lighting for them, too. I did lighting I did sound and then I started doing big tours like Jefferson Airplane. Derek and the dominos traffic with Steve Winwood band. And that gave me especially the English aspect, you know, the dirt and the dominoes and traffic. Those bands led to me going to England because I was in a in a car with Chris Blackwell, who owns Ireland records. And I was complaining about, you know, three years on the road or two years, whatever it was humping the gear and you know, getting three, four hours of sleep at night, even though as a young guy, I was saying I can't do this too much longer. He says, Well, what do you want to do? I said, I want to go into the studio and take what I've learned mixing and do it in the studio. He said, Well, you can work for me, man. I really did. Yeah. You know, come to London and I'll put you in an island Studios. So that's how I made the transformations from live sound mixer to, you know, I started at the bottom level in the studio. But I knew a lot. I knew a lot about microphones. I knew a lot about EQ and effects a lot more than the average guy just walking in off the street at Island studios. And that's

Chuck Shute:

a pretty big jump though to go from living. Are you still living in Philly at the time to go to London? Yeah,

Ron Nevison:

it was, especially in 1970. Yeah. So

Chuck Shute:

I mean, did you have like a girlfriend or family that you just said, I'm going to London. I mean, that's, that's huge.

Ron Nevison:

It is just decided to do it. This was like your dream. I had some friends. So I have the roadie friends from traffic and from Derek and the dominos. I was good buddies with the keyboard player from New York and the Domino's. And yeah.

Chuck Shute:

Were you only making 35 bucks a week American money making tea at the beginning of all this right when you went to Island studios?

Ron Nevison:

How did you find that out?

Chuck Shute:

I think you said it in an interview. And I was just like, yeah, 15 pounds

Ron Nevison:

a week I started. I don't know what that was maybe 25 or $30. Yeah, five, five pounds a week for the flat and 10 pounds, wait for whatever else.

Chuck Shute:

But you were looking like forward. You knew that. Like if you would continue along this path and six 510 Whatever years that you would be you knew where you wanted to go.

Ron Nevison:

It was an opportunity. Yeah, yeah. And I did blow it there. I mean, I worked at Island studios for a while, but I got fired. I got fired for doing an unauthorized session over the weekend. Yeah, so there was I think it was spooky tooth or somebody. One of the bands that island had through engineer got sick over a weekend, they called me off and I was a second engineer. And I wasn't supposed to go in and do that without letting them know. Hold me up. And I went, Okay, yeah, it was an opportunity. So I didn't think I'd get fired. I thought they'd like go, Hey, you're not supposed to do that. But no, they fired me. And now I'm in London, with no job now, but that this leads to a very important being in a place where I, at this point, I had will now kind of put in time at Island studios and spent a couple of years mixing on the road. Now, I answered an ad in Melody Maker magazine, because I was jobless and London about this company that I knew nothing about, but it was called track plan. And the track plan was owned by Pete Townsend. And it was building studios for musicians. And I got that job. I got interviewed by a guy named John Alcock was a fellow producer engineer like myself. And my first project was to build a mobile studio mobile, as they say, in an Airstream trailer. And that ended up being Bonnie lanes mobile sound LMS still in use today. And that got called up for a bunch of gigs like when Pete Townsend needed control room because his studio wasn't finished to do the Quadrophenia album. He called up Ronnie said get Nevison to bring the the the airstream over here. We're going to start recording. So I started recording the Quadrophenia record. And when they moved into the studio, he liked what I was doing. So he kept me

Chuck Shute:

right wasn't it also wasn't part of the story was that somebody was sick or drunk or something didn't show up. And so they said Alright, why don't we'll just have you did the whole album.

Ron Nevison:

They had somebody that was yeah, they had an engineer in mind for it. That was I think, drunk. Okay. And I'm I'm not sure what that was, but they got me to you know, Pete wanted to do the Quadrophenia album and quadrophonic sound. And there was not a quadrophonic studio in London, which requires all the quad panners and all the routing and all of that stuff and speaker system for quad. So he built his own, but it wasn't ready and he had to get started with recording Quadrophenia, but the studio apart was finished but the control room with the console wasn't finished. So we just pulled up the airstream outside, right outside the studio doors and started recording. And yeah ensel was ready. After two or three weeks. I just moved in there and continued and then I worked I did the Tommy film after that for the So I did a couple of big projects for

Chuck Shute:

them. So that's kind of your first big break in this.

Ron Nevison:

I was Yeah. So there's two really big breaks there, the sending with Chris Blackwell, and having a job offer in London, then getting fired and answering that and Melody Mecca. Those were major breaks in my career,

Chuck Shute:

for sure. So it must be somewhat surreal to watch the who record. I mean, I know you've seen Derek and the dominos, and you've seen all these other bands, you know, performance stuff, but to watch the recording of that classic album. I mean, that's got to be pretty cool. Right?

Ron Nevison:

Well, to watch anybody record, I was not experienced at all. You know, I'd spent very little time at Island studios as a second. A tea boy, as you say. Actually, the comb tape ops.

Chuck Shute:

Okay. Operator. Yeah. And then that one leads to the Led Zeppelin physical graffiti, right.

Ron Nevison:

Yeah, well, they needed they wanted, you know, Zeppelin had this house. They rented called Headley Grange, famous in rock lore. They had worked there previously with the Rolling Stones truck, The Rolling Stones immobile with houses of the holy and other projects. So they they knew what they wanted to they they had been out there before. And we went out there to record the what was would be physical graffiti. And John Paul Jones had some problems. He couldn't turn up. Or he didn't turn up, and Peter grant settlements manager had signed. Paul Rogers and his band to do it. Some demos, I think, he signed them as a band. And it was Mick Ralphs and Paul Rogers. The guys would become known as bad company, but they didn't have a name, let's just pull Rogers band. So we threw them in Headley Grange with me. And in 10 days, we did the bad co album. So that's how that worked out. And then I went back to do the physical graffiti album when Jonesy was ready to come into the back to the

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, so with physical graffiti, somebody told me I want to say I think I could be wrong on this. It might have been I had producer Steve Thompson on I feel like it was him or somebody said that. Led Zeppelin was not very good live that it was all the studio tricks, especially with Jimmy Page and the guitar. Do you agree with that? Or was that is that just as like a crazy crazy. So he was amazing in studio like you're watching.

Ron Nevison:

You know, the thing that was amazing about them, there's a couple of amazing takeaways. One was how John Bonham played Jimmy's riffs. He didn't just do time, he played the exact riff to the debtor to do better to do to better to do you know, if you listen through this Led Zeppelin stuff, he's listened to he copped his riffs. That's what I think makes it so interesting. And he could do that, because they were difficult out of time, signal time crazy time signatures. You know, Jimmy, the genius guitar player that he was the other thing that Tang other takeaway was that they really didn't pay much attention to sound or, you know, they were just they never bugged me about getting like, you know, they were never up my ass about getting like, perfect sounds. You know, they just played they just love playing and they knew what he wanted. They wanted they rehearsed ahead of time. So there was no cliques involved. They just played and yeah, those are my two big takeaways from from working with them. And pretty amazing. Now, I didn't know until I finished working out at Headley Grange. They finished they went in and obviously did work and and mixing on the album did the strings on cashmere and stuff like that? I do have an interesting little tidbit about cashmere. When we recorded that track. I just had gotten an Eventide phaser that day, and somebody told me it like sounded good on cymbals. So I only had the drums on two tracks only two microphones. Believe it or not, we're used to away from the drum kit just to stereo pair. That's how the drums are recorded on that record. And I took one of them and put it into the face or recorded on a third track and played it to them. When we had the playback and they liked it and kept it and so, you know, it was it was just a mistake. It wasn't a mistake. It was just I was in I was just experimenting wasn't a long thought out just just worked out one of those happy mistakes.

Chuck Shute:

Wow I love the song to trample is it trampled underfoot as I was called. Yeah, that song is in the sound would that the beginning especially like that dent dent antenna. Let's so

Ron Nevison:

it sounds It's a clever neck. Is that what that is? Yeah.

Chuck Shute:

Oh, that is so cool. Yeah, he

Ron Nevison:

played what Jonesy would do is he would play the clavinet. A lot of times they get the feel on the drum tracks. And then we'd overdub the bass. Okay, he was I think that particular songs it starts out with that. I think that that's the way we did that. It's 1970.

Chuck Shute:

So does when Robert Plant sings? Does he do it? Like in one take? Or is he do multiple? Because I mean, his vocals are just nobody can duplicate that he's one of the greatest rock singers of all time.

Ron Nevison:

Indeed. Indeed, I've been lucky to. I've been lucky to kind of work with some great singers like plant Ben Paul Rogers for Christ's sake. And Streisand and Mickey Thomas and, and, and Wilson. You know, I really have had a great career as far as working with the best singers.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, so but plant does he do it in one take typically? Or how many does it take them a lot.

Ron Nevison:

You know, when I did those nine songs, I didn't even know that they were going to use tracks from houses of the holy and make an album. I just did the nine newest songs. Okay, didn't do the final vocals. So I'm not sure how we did that.

Chuck Shute:

Okay, so with that one and the three bad companies that you also engineered. Now those got remastered later. So what explain that process, does that negate the work that you did? Or is it just enhance it?

Ron Nevison:

Maybe Maybe not. Maybe maybe not? Just depends, it's you know, remastering and re mixing are two different things. The mastering they send it to a mastering engineer and they they use some maybe these days computer programs to change the EQ and all that re mixing is where you get the original audio tapes, as some you know, usually in those days it was all 16 track or 24 track and actually physically remix it. And so both of these things are done throughout the industry as as time goes on. techniques get better equipment gets better. And and tastes change and how things sound.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah. Now that makes sense

Ron Nevison:

that I talked to Pete Townsend about it's probably about eight or 10 years ago now when the 40th anniversary of Quadrophenia came out and he sent me a 40th anniversary package that they had done a vinyl package and he told me they used all the original mixes that he and I did Pete and I did the mixing together at his studio in Goehring which is like a bungalow outside of London.

Chuck Shute:

Wow. So then your first producer credit is the Thin Lizzy one right nightlife is that the first producing credit and you're kind of

Ron Nevison:

I did one before that called chilly Willie and the red hot peppers that I had done with the airstream in a barn in Cornwall. It was a pub band signed records. But yeah, nightlife within Lizzie is one of the first ones that I did while I was still in London. Yeah, and

Chuck Shute:

you're kind of you thought the production you did a good job but you wish you could redo the mixing. Is that the problem? Yeah, yeah, in the band felt the same way.

Ron Nevison:

I don't know. I listening to it. Now I go. I know. Sometimes I listen to stuff. I go. Yeah, sometimes I listen to stuff I go, No.

Chuck Shute:

Well, yeah. And then so you can do it better. You know? Yeah. The UFO strangers in the night. That's another big one. Now, that's a live album, but I did hear you said that two songs were actually recorded in studio. And there was some disagreement with the guitarist Michael Schenker, because he wanted it to be more produced and you wanted it more of a live field. Isn't that right?

Ron Nevison:

You know, I don't remember that part. Actually tell you the truth. I've read things like that too. I do know that. You know, it's a live album with a band like that is very difficult. Especially when you have songs that are like 13 minutes long like rock bottom, and you have a 20 minutes side we're talking about this is 1977. We're talking about vinyl, this is before CDs. And so you can't do the set as the set, you know, would normally be the you have to, you have to figure out where am I going to put something like rock bottom or, or love to love, which are like, you know, so long. And so there's no way I could we could do an album that was listen to people on a single final. So I talked chrysalis into doing a double album. And it was my judgment that there was a couple of songs short of the poor performance wise. So we just went in and we did them in the studio. Just threw them in there with you know, I didn't the biggest venue on that album was I think, Chicago amphitheater. UFO had a huge following in Chicago. But I think I used most of the recording from like Columbus or Youngstown or something like that. No, but I used all the Oh, the audience from Chicago. Okay. Gotcha. So I, you know, it's using the audience anywhere I could. So I use the audience from the Record Plant studio, or, you know, use the audience and the Record Plant tracks. You use the same drums and same microphones and the same everything. So, yeah,

Chuck Shute:

yeah. And so Michael must not have been that mad because he had you produce his solo album, The 1981. Michael Schenker group. So what was it like working with him? Because I had the basis of the current version of UFO and he said, there's no interest in reconnecting with Michael, they don't want him in the band. Is there some sort of was he difficult to work with or something? Or what what's your take on that?

Ron Nevison:

Why, you know, Michael, Michael, was, you know, it was an English rock band with a German guitar player. And there was little bit of friction. They're left over from the war, even I think relentlessly of each other. And no, Michael didn't like that. Now, Michael wrote these really thematic episodic things, but they weren't. They were just themes. They weren't chopped up into a song. And so one of the things that I had to do because they didn't rehearse together, he turned up with these epic, great, wonderful pieces of music. But they weren't songs. And so I chopped them up. And Phil Mogg would take would take them the whole album to write the lyrics. It was like we're getting to the end. Where are their lyrics? Now? As a producer, it's tough to do an album with songs. You don't know what they're about. Yeah, nice to have the lyrics. Right. Right. So that was one thing but he was he was quirky. Michael, he was such a genius. You know, the I had no no issues working with Michael. We loved working together. I did. I did the two studio albums, obsession and lights out. And I did the live album. Strangers in the night. Which when I was mixing that album, at the Record Plant in LA, I went next door to to have lunch at this French restaurant. And they are playing dooby dooby doo. You know stranger in the night Frank Sinatra. Yeah, there Frank Sinatra was on the. And I was listening to it while I was eating lunch. And I want that would be a great name for this album. UFO strangers in the night. So that band loved that. That's awesome. So then you go in. I did. So three. I did that. And then I did two Shanker solo record right. Then I did another UFO record. So I'm done. Six records with Shankar

Chuck Shute:

Yeah. So he must have appreciated your production skills for sure.

Ron Nevison:

He brought me to a mid 90s. He brought me to Phoenix and I rented a place in Scottsdale and rented a studio and yeah, this. I think it was a walk on water album. It was pretty cool. Okay, mid 90s. That's the last time I worked with him, I think. Okay, I did. Another UFO L in LA. I can't remember the name of that. Yeah, you worked with them a lot. Yeah. Yeah. Six, six records. Yeah,

Chuck Shute:

they have kind of a cult following. They didn't know like Eddie trunk is a big fan and he's kind of champion And then as one of the greatest rock bands he's he's huge fan. Yeah, yeah big fan. Yeah so then you do some of the the pop stuff like Jefferson Starship or and I can't remember you all three incarnations that you airplane starship and Jefferson Starship or?

Ron Nevison:

Well, I did. I did the airplane. Well, here's an interesting story. You know, I was doing one of the tours that I did when I was with festival group as the sound man. One of the tours that I did, I did a couple of tours with Jefferson Airplane. So and I actually mixed their sound at Woodstock. So I was on tour with them. Two tours, three tours, and 6869. I got a call on 79. My manager said that they've got a new singer Mickey Thomas from fooled around and fell in love, Sam and I said, Oh, great. And so I went up to see them. I actually saw Santana, the same day, they were looking for a producer too. But I ended up going with the starship that easily Dunbar new drummer and Mickey was just wasn't the starship of old it wasn't certainly wasn't the airplane. And they had that song, Jane. And, yeah, so it was a new beginning for them. And I ended up doing three records with them in the Bay Area over the over the next three years or so. But I have to make make a point that I was afraid when I went up there that they wouldn't want to hire their sound guy to be their producer. Right? This, you know, this famous guy is coming up. Now it's done all these records. And so I didn't tell them, and they didn't recognize me. They didn't have a beard and all of that. But somewhere like in the second or the third records, I'm sitting around with the roadies. And they're going here from Philly. Right. And I want yeah. Oh, you were on tour with us where? It took them now only remember that a couple of weeks, three years. Yeah. That's funny. I just didn't mention it. Maybe I mentioned it. That happened to me too, with. In 1985, I got a call to do Joe Cocker. And I was the I was the mixer for Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, and 69 or 68, whatever that was. And so but I didn't have to worry about Joe didn't remember anything. You know, yeah.

Chuck Shute:

So do you like the poppy or stuff like that, like the starship and survivor? And then the albums you do with heart more more poppy? Or do you like the more hard rocking stuff, like he did the Ozzy Osbourne and kiss and those kinds of things.

Ron Nevison:

You know, I don't know whether what I liked and what I didn't like, I think that as a producer, you have to make sure that you do an album that can fit the format's that you can get on the radio. You know, there's certain certain rock songs that will work with album radio AOR. And in those days, especially the 80s, there was CHR contemporary hit record hit radio CHR, which is really top 40 kind of radio. And then we're not going to play kiss ever LOA tried. But they would play ballots. And so the streams alone. You know, that kind of thing. If you get a hit no stays. On AOR you could have a gold record, you know, so Right. Well, yeah. If you get it on CHR you've got 2 million.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, so like with the Aussie one.

Ron Nevison:

So Ozzy shot in the dark. Yeah, you

Chuck Shute:

had to talk him into doing that, right?

Ron Nevison:

I did. I have to talk to them. And then they wanted to know where the follow up was. And I laughed. I said, Are you kidding? Do you remember the conversation we had about this? You didn't want to do this one? How can I possibly sneak in a follow up?

Chuck Shute:

But did you have other suggestions that you would have told them to follow up with?

Ron Nevison:

I don't remember. Okay. But Phil Suzanne gave me the song and he was the bass player in the group. I didn't have to look too far for this song. I thought it would be great. But they did like it was a documentary.

Chuck Shute:

Do you think he was the was he the main songwriter of that album then? Or did he write most of the songs? Or you know, cuz I know it says like Ozzy and

Ron Nevison:

Ozzy took credit for all of the songs all the time. The you know, Alma Ciara actually wrote I wasn't party to because I wasn't there for the writing sessions. I just know that he always had great people as he had during the album that I did. He had shaky Lee? Yeah. And he was fabulous. And he was a great guy. He doesn't want to work it like he did say to me, he wanted to work at midnight I went, you know, the townhouse studios. We can't We can't turn the whole thing over.

Chuck Shute:

Right. So you compromise and he came in at like eight o'clock at night or something like that? Six. Work toxic. Okay. Yeah. So that's like, that's early for him.

Ron Nevison:

And he wasn't, you know, he was he was just into martial arts and stuff. He just wasn't nice guy. And interesting. As a producer, you have to kind of like go with when people are going to be their most talented but I couldn't go at midnight. That was a bit too much.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah. So with the kiss one. There's a songwriting team of you know, Paul and Jean. They kind of they write separately like Paul sends you six songs, but you said that he had, you know, narrowed it down to these are the six best where Jean just sent you every there's like 25 songs.

Ron Nevison:

That's right. Yeah. Gina sent sends everything he's done. And, and Paul had narrowed it down. And Paul wrote with other people. I think Jean did a little bit too. Paul wrote with, you know, a lot of the hot hit writers. And I had a great time with them. That was that was a terrific record. I think. listening back to it. That's another one I wish I could remix. Because of the status of synth. It's a little bit, you know, to synth heavy. Just as far as mixing goes. I would have it Rockmore. And, but but we were trying. We were trying to get them on hit radio, too, you know? Yeah. And so they wouldn't, you know, I don't think I found that the record company really messed that up. There's a song called reason to live that I thought was a hit Smash. Really? It's on that record, and we couldn't get traction on it.

Chuck Shute:

Hmm, that's interesting. Yeah. Like so what happens to those demos? Like I heard you say one of the songs Jean wrote was called, I want to put a log in your fireplace, and I thought that was hilarious. And I tried to YouTube like kiss demo. I can't find it.

Ron Nevison:

Alright, well, who knows what happens? Yeah. Yeah. No, I Yeah. But it's rock and roll, you know? Because there's

Chuck Shute:

some kiss fans that I mean, they will like pay money for Gene Simmons blog. I mean, they will let alone a demo song that he did like that. Like they're so into that.

Ron Nevison:

Kiss army is really, you know, the kiss army has had mostly negative reviews of Crazy Nights album.

Chuck Shute:

But they still play the song crazy.

Ron Nevison:

Right? Yeah, it's just like, you know, there's certain things that happen. Like when When Dylan went electric. It sounds seem preposterous now. But you know, add a synth to kiss was not something that I think that's part of it.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, everyone was using synth in the 80s. I was just wondering whether it was. Yeah. So I had a key Marcelo from Europe on my show, and he was telling me the story about how you guys had this album out of this world, that you brought him the song by Diane Warren called look away. And he's like, he's so excited. He's like, Guys, look at this song. It's called look away. It's dying. We got a Diane Warren song. And who was it that was it the singer or somebody else said, or I think it was John, the other guitarist said, No, we're not a fucking cover band. And so they turned it down, and then went on to be this massive hit for Chicago.

Ron Nevison:

No, no, that's not true. That's not true. That's not true. No, I'll tell you the truth of it. Okay, I was going to London. I was given to Diane Warren songs that Chicago had given me to do with them. Okay. I never offered those songs to Europe. I was on my way to, I was on my way to London to do the to do the Out of This World album. And I played them those songs, but I never suggested they weren't my songs to give. I never suggested I went back after that, and cut those songs with Chicago and they became hips both.

Chuck Shute:

So key was just confused that yeah, he doesn't very

Ron Nevison:

much. Yeah, he was impressed with the songs.

Chuck Shute:

Okay, but what do you think if he could if you want to if you want to find

Ron Nevison:

interviewing outside songs, they didn't need outside songs. The dilemma with Europe was they had a big hit with Baba, Baba. Baba, Baba. How do you? How do you follow that up? Give me another give me another trumpet riff give me another horn riff.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, that's the name of the ballot. I think maybe if not look away maybe another ballot from I mean, we

Ron Nevison:

I still we still I still there's a lot of there's ballads on that record and the song superstitious did fairly well. It didn't do what Final Countdown did. But yeah, it's a great album and there's wonderful. I mean, it was a great record. I underrated for sure. Yeah, yeah.

Chuck Shute:

So how did those songs like the Diane Warren song? How do those songs by other songwriters get picked for albums? Is there a bidding war or competition? Or there's a songwriter say I want this to go to Chicago? Or how does that work?

Ron Nevison:

Well, you know, as a producer, hit producer, especially, you you are a conduit for all of these songwriters. You know, they pass us through me, you know, either I find the songs or the record company, you know, the case of Leichhardt I sat with Don Grierson, who's the head of a&r capital, and he had What about love, right? Which is great. And he also had, he also was having hits with Tina Turner. And he had this song called if looks could kill, and it was like a dance to Netflix can count PTT DTTP. And I thought lyrically, if looks could kill, you'd be lying on the floor, you'd be begging me, please don't hurt me anymore. I think that'll be great for Ann Wilson is a visual, right. And so I grabbed that from him, I said, I want to do this with heart. And then I went and found these dreams for them, and alone. And I want you so bad, and some other songs. And along mix those in with the songs that they wrote. So you know, finding outside songs is sometimes just I, I got inundated with so many songs in the ad set, I couldn't really listen to them all. So I only listened to when I was had an artist in mind. And I was looking for something for trying to fill a gap for an artist. Yeah, interesting. So I because otherwise, I'd miss it. Right, forget about it. So okay, so I I had lots of stuff and I just start you know, it's first start digging into known songwriters like like a Diane. Holly's hoppin a night, Bernie. But Bernie, Bernie and I were in the same management company. So I'm really well, Bernie. So one that handed me a cassette that had these dreams on it. But also on that cassette, because I was going up to rehearse with heart. On that cassette was we built this city.

Chuck Shute:

And you said you hated that one, right? Yeah.

Ron Nevison:

I didn't like that. So I thought it was too pretentious. Hmm.

Chuck Shute:

So with Ann Wilson Oh, tell me about that. Because I had her on the streams they loved. Yeah. Because I know she's not a huge fan of that era of the band. But I What was she like working with? Because I had her on the show. And I just, I just really liked her. I was like, gosh, she seems so humble. Was she? Was she humble? Even back in the day in her prime?

Ron Nevison:

Yeah. Yeah. For both of them were great. You know, I think that some of the songs I didn't agree with that were pushed by the record company. Like nothing at all is one of them. That comes to mind. I hit it, but why did them? You know, I had a mandate to do them. The songs WHAT ABOUT LOVE these dreams alone? I think they they're still they still do those. And I think they're still great. And they certainly built that era they sold. I don't know how many records 10 million records or something like that. Or maybe more. That's just in the US between those two records. Yeah, so yeah, it was. Yeah, I like those

Chuck Shute:

songs. I know. I know. She's not they're not a huge fan of that era. But I mean, because that was when I grew up as a kid. And I was like, Oh, these are catchy, fun songs.

Ron Nevison:

They they came out of the came out of the 70s with the dreamboat Annie album, which had that's a classic, great classic, you know, don't doo doo doo doo doo don't crazy on you and Magic Man and barracuda. And, you know, unfortunately, the guitar player that you know, they they were like, had relationships with the guitar player and the drummer. And when they broke up, I think that took away a lot of the writing in the band for my mind. And they started that change the band. And by 90s 1982 they had an album called Passion works and didn't do well. And Epic dropped them. If you can imagine that they got epic. And they were a little bit they needed to kind of like get perked back up. And you know. So they had to agree with Dawn groups and the the, the record company guy that if he signed them, they would have to agree to do songs and agree on the producer. And they said yes, and that's how it all came down. But I don't think they ever, ever wanted to do anybody else's

Chuck Shute:

songs. Yeah. And people don't make sense. Some artists

Ron Nevison:

are more agreeable to doing covers, like Rod Stewart or like, you know, they're not so but the girls are never happy with doing songs. But I had a great time with them. No. And in fact, I have to tell you this after the after the Damn Yankees record. And Nancy called me up I'd given him the song once you're so bad, by the same writers that they acted alone. Hmm. Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. And I think it was once you so bad. And, or it was another song like that. And she called me up. She said, Remember that song that, you know, I want to do that for this thing I'm doing with my boyfriend or husband always record sure if she had married her boyfriend or husband at that time. And I said, you know, I'm sorry, but I gave that away too. I'm doing that with Patti Smith. And he didn't like that. And I didn't do the next record. They got Oh, okay, well, let's get what's his name to do the next record. Oh, reason why I shouldn't do the third record that they did.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, cuz those two that you did? I mean, say what you will but they had massive success. Yeah.

Ron Nevison:

So here you go. them complaining about them complaining about outside songs and, and then when she wants to do an outside song that I played her. I said, Well, now I'm doing it with somebody else. After you turned it down. Perfect.

Chuck Shute:

Go figure. Yeah, well, you mentioned Damn Yankees. I got to talk about that. Because to me, I think those are two of the most underrated brilliant Rock Records of I know, rock scene was changing a little bit, especially with the second album, but I love those records. So tell me about that. Because I had Ted Nugent on my show. And that guy is just I mean, he's so energetic and he's, I don't want he's 70 years old. Was he bouncing off the walls in the studio to I know you said something about how he he didn't he wasn't around for a lot of it. But when he was there, was he crazy?

Ron Nevison:

Ted is very entertaining. Ted is like a preacher on meth I have to say that he I don't want this to be misconstrued. He he doesn't do drugs. He's not intro he that's what's so funny. Energetic. Yeah, he right. He is like that. There is this backstory to Damn Yankees. It's interesting. Don John Kolodner kind of a&r guy put with a beard. Yeah, put dude looks like a lady. Always in the white Floyd waco has to you know, had helped Aerosmith. And you know, he was around the scene. He was working for Geffen and he got Ted, with together with Tommy Shaw and Jack blades. He's the one that put that together. And they really were great. And it was a great mixture of of talent. However, I'm trying to think of the name of the President of Geffen Records at the time. It doesn't matter he passed on the project. So imagine after, you know, putting that together, he didn't want that. He didn't want to do it. Okay. So it went to Warner Brothers and Michael Austin called me up and said, Get down here. I'm sorry to hear this. And he played me the six or six songs that they had worked up and I said I want to do it. But at the same time, I was worried because I was I had told night Rangers manager that I would do a night Ranger album. And I I passed on it and left them hanging In a couple of years earlier in 87 I think something like that I did something else and I felt bad about it but I can only do so many projects and I I felt bad about it. I thought that maybe Jack blades would, you know not be happy about

Chuck Shute:

hold a grudge, but he didn't know he didn't Oh, that's good. Yeah, I'm sure that kind of stuff happens all the time.

Ron Nevison:

He can I invited him over my house and smooth things over with him and and we started getting down to work. He is

Chuck Shute:

one of the most brilliant songwriters I think totally underrated I mean, they night Ranger stuff that they do today. I listen I go this is a great song. I mean obviously they're not going to play it on the radio because whatever

Ron Nevison:

but it writer him and Tommy. Alright, yeah. And you had mentioned something about forget now. You know, originally when you first started talking about Damien keys, well how Nugent

Chuck Shute:

would you said Tom you would come in and get in the studio all day new John would come in and do his parts and leave

Ron Nevison:

Ted was intense world what we call his bow hunting paradise in

Chuck Shute:

a shot a bow on my podcast.

Ron Nevison:

Well, look, Damn Yankees was Ted Nugent's roadshow and Tommy Shaw and Jack played studio album. That makes sense. And Ted Nugent used to shoot a bow and arrow on stage at Saddam Hussein. They would bring out a thing of Saddam Hussein, and he would fire in the crowd and go crazy. Take hasn't changed much.

Chuck Shute:

I don't think I knew back then, though. Like how political he was? Or I don't know if he's changed? No. Well, I

Ron Nevison:

certainly I love the guy. He's He's a really entertaining guy. But he's entertaining as politics are not my politics. But if you look at the songs on the on the second Damn, Yankees record, you know, and I, I have a platinum disk in my bathroom. So whenever I'm standing there at the toilet, I can read it. And the songs on there uprising. Don't tread on me. If you think about you know, yeah, that's he was writing about that stuff, then. It's just, you know, that's the meaning. I just thought it was rock and roll to him. It's

Chuck Shute:

more subtle. Way,

Ron Nevison:

way different for him. Yeah, yeah.

Chuck Shute:

Well, I love that, especially that second album, the production, the songwriting, all that the songs are, it's just good. It's good

Ron Nevison:

to work with guys like that. And here's the thing that I'm getting back to about working with him. And then Ted's world. He just wanted to come and do everything at once. Now, when I first got this project, I went well to two, I love to have the two guitar player thing, right? They play off each other. Well, you can't play off each other if they're not playing at the same time. Can you? Yeah. And so Tommy did most of the guitars and Ted was really, really important. He wrote the riff on coming of age, which is very cool. And he did some very important stuff. He didn't do as much as I would have liked him to. Because he chose not to stay he came and did his get his rhythm parts and then will last so there's little other parts to crop up. That Tommy did all those little parts when he came back to do the solo six weeks later. Usually, as a producer, you have to be ready with the record button to hit that button. Because he might get the best solo you'd ever gotten right that first time. He put hit the hit the record button. He didn't remember the song. He had to figure out what key it was in. He did no homework. However, he's Ted fucking Nugent. He can go in and do that. And in a half hour he had a great solo. But that's the way he worked. He you know, I can do that. I don't need to I don't need to rehearse. I'm Ted Nugent.

Chuck Shute:

That's interesting. That's fine.

Ron Nevison:

as well. I think he can't complain about not having enough airtime on the album because he didn't put in time.

Chuck Shute:

Right now. You didn't do the third album that never came out. Did you? I didn't know. Okay, okay. What about now this is the one he I think one of your best albums one of my favorite is the Vince Neil record. I think it's so underrated. I loved crew without my first way to get into music.

Ron Nevison:

I never get I never you know. I love that album.

Chuck Shute:

It's I mean, yeah, it's not groundbreaking. I know it came out during grunge but It was so fun. It was just a fun, good album, the guitar work and I think I had Steve Stevens on. And even he didn't even seem to be very thrilled about I was like, that's your best guitar work I've ever heard. He is shredding and it's got these lasers and all this stuff, but he doesn't seem very happy with it.

Ron Nevison:

I didn't, you know, I No one's ever asked me about that record. I thoroughly agree that Nirvana tanked it. You know, the fact that everybody was running up to Seattle and all eyes were up there with not just Nirvana, but Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden and everybody else. But But he had a great band. He had a great band, and very cool songs. And Tommy and Jack write a song for him, too, I think right? Well, maybe too. Yeah.

Chuck Shute:

Because they did the you're invited. But your friend can't come and also can't change me. That's right. Wow. And also did they do sister of pain to maybe three songs?

Ron Nevison:

Yeah, maybe three? That's right, right. Yeah, that was a great, great sounding record. Yeah, the

Chuck Shute:

flamenco guitar on the edge is so cool. You know, he's he also does acoustics

Ron Nevison:

have a guy like him? And him not to recognize that as a great album is kind of strange. It is weird. So did I just wrote it off. As you know, it wasn't the time for that kind of record. Because I did another really good record with John Wetton. At the time, the singer for Asia right around 93 or 9490 whatever it was, it didn't get any notice either. And I just wrote those off as as you know. A classic rock was not in the mainstream anymore.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, but I think the fans like a Vince fans are still hold that record near and dear. And yeah, so at the time did you ever did you ever just like after recording go out with a with Vince for a beer? Did he ever spill the dirt on the crew stuff? Like what? Because there's two different stories to that whole saga? That's what sorry, go to the Motley he said he was fired. And then they said he quit. Oh, your tell you his take on

Ron Nevison:

I don't know. I just know that Tommy and Jack Jack plates took Vince under his wing when he left Motley. That's how that my MTV thing that came about you're invited. Your friends can come. And yeah. And it was just a fun record. I remember when we finished the tracks we recorded at rumbo. And Ally, recorded the tracks. All of a sudden, we had a little party at the end of the just the track recording the drum recording. And in walks this stripper with this big guy and like six foot 10 inch guy holding a boombox. And yeah, she started stripping and put with music. And after about a half hour I decided to go home. And about midnight, I get a call from the girl at the studio. Ron, somebody at the studio hit the fire alarm. They had gotten out of hand gotten crazy. And they are hitting fire alarms and and so I got chewed out for not being there for that. You know,

Chuck Shute:

are you sometimes kind of like a babysitter as a producer with these rockstars

Ron Nevison:

I'm the guy that books, the studios and as the relationships with the studios and yeah, sometimes. You know, I remember in Air Studios in London, I did a faces album, which never came out because they broke up. But I remember being called into into the office by none other than the Beatles producer and wanting to know why a bar was set up in the control room. You know, he was he wanted to make sure that that didn't happen again.

Chuck Shute:

So Rod Stewart set up a bar in

Ron Nevison:

the face. It's you know, they're just drinkers.

Chuck Shute:

Okay, so who was the craziest? I mean, because Keith Moon, John Bonham, Vince Neil, who's the craziest person to control the biggest party or of all the bands you worked with all of them really,

Ron Nevison:

I can't I can't really, you know, there's, you know, all of them partied hard at some point continually is continuing. It's not we're continuously I think, I'm not sure maybe events,

Chuck Shute:

really. So even in 93 he was still because like I remember they had kind of motley crew been sober for like a couple years. I should tell

Ron Nevison:

you that I had more trouble getting Steve Stevens to the studio. Yo, then anybody else? Really? Yeah. Because he was just late all the time.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, I think he's sober now. I think he's been sober for like,

Ron Nevison:

yeah, he was a little out of control. But he he was still playing great.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, it sounds amazing. Maybe that's what it wasn't. He was the cocaine that made him sound so crazy. And that, um, maybe that's why he's like, looks back on it. And I'm sure it was. Yeah. What about this is another thing I think this was amazing because we talked about these albums, the classic rock kind of dying, but in 1995, you made an album for firehouse and you got them a not only top 40 But top 30 pop hit. That's pretty amazing.

Ron Nevison:

Yeah, that was interesting. Yeah, it was great.

Chuck Shute:

It was the song I live my life for you. It was it actually hit number 26 which is again, I think that's amazing and 9095 for a quote unquote hairband to have a radio friendly hit. How did you was there? Was there some magic you had to work on that song? Or was it just a great song that you just

Ron Nevison:

I'm so happy that you're asking about these 90s projects because I never get asked about these 90s Proud these are my favorite then sir. Like, like firehouse or, or you know, a couple years later meatloaf. I did a meatloaf record in 95. You know, I remember going down to Sarasota and rehearsing with the band and I brought them to LA, I believed, and I'm not sure where I did the album, but I love those cars. And yeah, I remember thinking that in those days, I had to dry things up a little bit from the reverb from the 80s. Everything was more in your face. So the mixing was quite different. And but, you know, I didn't want didn't want to change the band. And maybe sonically like I said, listening back I would sonically like to kind of remix Thin Lizzy and kiss. But you know, not change anything necessary.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah. So you got to tell me this about Mike Clink. Now you kind of mentored him? I do. I was not aware of this. i He obviously went on to be a massive producer for Guns and Roses and some other stuff. But how did you? You start? Was it I have the tiger that or he produced that or tell me the story with him? How do I get a drink to hear it was just water. But

Ron Nevison:

well, here's the story that you should know. I was building I built a studio for Ronnie, Ronnie Wood was just about to leave the faces at his house in London. And the phases were breaking up. And wonders needed another album from the phases This is before Rod Stewart was solo. And even though he had a solo album with Maggie Mae, which was a huge hit. That's one of the reasons why he wanted to break away from the band. Sure. And so I built a studio for Woody. And the Record Plant studios were hired to record the tour that they were doing in the US. During that recording. Ronnie Wood told the two owners of the Record Plant Hey, why don't you come to London during the hiatus? Yes, like, because they recorded three weeks. There's a couple of weeks off and another three weeks or something. So Gary kellgren and stone, Chris Stone, came to London and I was doing a session at Woody's house. Right. And they met me and they saw that I had done Led Zeppelin and the who and bad company and and this was 1975 and they offered me the job for Chief Engineer at the Record Plant. And ultimately I took that went to LA and was kind of the overseer of the five studios at three in LA and the two up in Sausalito. Mike clink was an assistant engineer at that time at the Record Plant. Maybe not then but eventually he was I mean, I'm not sure when I got there in 75 If he was working or not, he would remember. But he started working at the Record Plant and and we started working together and I liked him and he liked me and and I used him for like eight or eight albums or something. We went to Sausalito together. As a lot of times I do pieces in LA and then go up to Sausalito with maybe like Survivor I'd cut the drums in LA and go up there and do the overdubs because they had a house with the studio. So clink ended up being I'm not sure I mentored him so much is He was my assistant engineer. And I even got my manager to, to kind of manage him. I'm not sure if that's what resulted in him getting the gig for Guns and Roses. Certainly that changed his life.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, you still keep in touch with him. Oh, yeah.

Ron Nevison:

Yeah. How did you get out? I was working with heart for somebody and the big studio at at Rambo. And he had those guys in the back and the smaller studio. And I remember meeting those guys and, and thinking good luck, Mike.

Chuck Shute:

Yeah, cuz they were pretty crazy back in the day on that first and the everybody was there was a lot of drugs, I think. Yeah,

Ron Nevison:

yeah. And so, yeah. So yeah,

Chuck Shute:

cans and rows. Wow. It's just like, so commonplace for you to just see all these bands and then some of them later, just take I'm sure there was a lot that never did. But so many of you probably saw it. You're thinking good luck with those guys. And the album blows I get no idea.

Ron Nevison:

Another guy that worked for me a bunch a few albums. Toby Wright went on to work with Allison chains. And, in fact, he has scouted he's got a podcast, I did a session with him a podcast

Chuck Shute:

called which ones has caught the listen to a few interviews. And

Ron Nevison:

it's sure for her that won't be right. It's right. Right, the right stuff or something like

Chuck Shute:

okay, yeah, I might, I might, I might have heard that. When I heard you say in one of the interview or multiple interviews, you can you talk about this book is that what's the status with that?

Ron Nevison:

I haven't done anything. You know, COVID kind of stopped that in its tracks. So it was okay. And one of the reasons is everybody started writing books. Everybody is sitting on their butt. Yeah. And trying to stay away from getting sick and starting to think, Oh, let me paint something or let me write something. Let me record something. So I have to get back to it. It's, it's from the early days to 1999 goes right up to there. I haven't haven't included anything. And I haven't included anything personal. It's just all career stuff at the moment. But yeah, I'm gonna get back to it.

Chuck Shute:

Well, it's an amazing career. It's it's great story. I just love to that it starts you know, you just this guy making 35 bucks an hour, and then you become one of the biggest producers in the world is love those kinds of stories really neat and inspiring for people to hear that I think whether it's they want to be a producer or anything.

Ron Nevison:

Just yeah,

Chuck Shute:

you have any secrets to your success? Like, did you see that path later down the line, you're like, I'm gonna be a huge producer.

Ron Nevison:

I have to say that. As an engineer, for instance, let's let's take the bad company album, albums. Love those. I was an engineer, I get paid $100 a week. That's it, Billy. During that time, maybe 200 a week. And I watched them make rakin millions, over three albums. The third album, they couldn't even work in. In England, because they could only be there 63 days a year because of their tax issues that they they didn't want to record in the US. Because they didn't want to use up visa time because they were on tour. All right. And so they decided to record in the south of France rented a big villa. And Ronnie Lane wouldn't let him take the Airstream. And the first two albums I had done with an Airstream with the airstream thing that we talked about. Yeah. So I got the Rolling Stones mobile truck to come over. And the reason I'm bringing all that up is you know, kind of started thinking man, I need to be a royalty artist here. You know, I'm, you know, right in the middle of all this. And so, you know, started producing and became a royalty artist and that's how you make money in this business. Not sitting there as an engineer getting an hourly or weekly wage.

Chuck Shute:

Right. So you did see the future you saw, I need to I need to take this up a notch because there's some people just stay engineers.

Ron Nevison:

You know, I guess if they're not aspiring or if they don't have the talent, I don't think that if you know it's not you can say you're gonna be a producer, but you have to know what you're doing and, and you have to have hits and you have to kind of so yeah,

Chuck Shute:

well, it's great. It was a lot of great stories. Anything else I miss any other crazy stories or gossip or dirt you want to spill on

Ron Nevison:

here a couple of hours that we could Do

Chuck Shute:

well you have to come back when the books out and we can promote that and that it's been a lot of fun. It's been great. Okay, I always end with the charity. Is there a charity? You want to promote?

Ron Nevison:

Yeah. Doctors Without Borders.

Chuck Shute:

Okay. Yeah, I'll put that further than I want. Yeah, I'll put the website.

Ron Nevison:

You know, I got involved with them during the Ebola. times back in seven years ago or something and, yeah, so yeah. Okay. Without Borders.

Chuck Shute:

I'll put that website in the notes along with your you have a website and people can contact you if they want to hire you

Ron Nevison:

or some.com. Yeah, they can hire me through sound better. I have a profile on sound better too.

Chuck Shute:

Okay. Very cool. Well, thank you so much for doing this. I appreciate I love the stories. All right you to be in touch. Bye. Thank you again to Ron Nevison. Check out his website for more information, or you can check all music for a list of his full credits. It's a pretty extensive list. And we could definitely do a round two for this one. So I hope to read his book one day and have him back on the show. Make sure to support Ron, share this episode or follow him on social media. Thank you for all your support of the guests. If you want to support me and my little show here, you can like comment, share the episode. Listen to some of my other episodes, including the ones I mentioned, like Steve Stevens and Wilson and Ted Nugent. Thank you so much for making it all the way through this episode. Have a great day and shoot for the moon.