Ed Cherney's GRAMMY-Winning Rise

Author: 
Zoe Adler, GRAMMY Camp 2013

As part of GRAMMY Camp Guest Professional Day the Audio Engineer track was treated with a visit from Ed Cherney, a GRAMMY-winning producer and engineer. He started off his life of music playing the piano when he was just three years old. By the time he got to college, he had lost interest in piano, and had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Cherney pushed his way into the music business by driving a truck. When his friend’s band toured, they called him up and asked him to be their driver since he had been driving a truck for a company for a while before hand. He happily took the gig. One day on tour the soundman didn’t show up and the band members said to the inexperienced Ed Cherney that he had to mix the band. He had always been interested in audio, but didn’t really think he could make it into a career. He started learning by failing, making mistake upon mistake so he knew what he should and shouldn’t be doing.

The first time he walked into a studio he knew it was the place he belonged. Cherney then attended DeVry to learn about sound and audio engineering so he would have more experience. He decided that he was going to make it into the business and would start with an intern or apprenticeship. Every month for three years he would make his rounds to all the different studios and apply for internships. After three years of trying and failing (by now it was 1976), he received an apprenticeship with Paragon Studios for $2.25 per hour. Cherney knew he had to work his way up the ladder, and made sure everything was done perfectly. He says that his saving grace was that he could “see into the future,” or anticipate what would happen before it happened. Two years into the apprenticeship he mixed his very first tape, and claims that it was awful but that he learned a lot from it.

After working there for a while and eventually being promoted to assistant engineer, he moved out to Los Angeles. He applied for a job at West Lake Records and was hired as assistant engineer. While working there, he recorded on dozens of famous great records from all genres. He started to make jingles and for the first time in his career was able to make money to live off of. One day, Ry Cooder called him and asked him to engineer his commercial for Delco. This gig went really well for both of them, and later Cooder called Cherney again to record, engineer, and mix his new record. This, too, worked out well. The manager for David Lindley, got ahold of Cherney’s information and contacted him to record a slide guitar record with Lindley. At this time, Cherney had decided he would take every opportunity thrown his way, so when Bonnie Raitt asked him to record an album for her, he jumped at the chance. He said that this was when the engineering clicked and he completely understood how to make the best sound from what he was given. Together, Raitt and Cherney won many GRAMMY’s and Cherney gained popularity and recognition. Now Cherney is a highly sought-after audio engineer with an amazing story.

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