Al Schmitt, legendary recording engineer and producer, reported to have died aged 91

Al Schmitt
(Image credit: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

American recording engineer Al Schmitt, who worked with the likes of Steely Dan, George Benson, Quincy Jones and Toto, has died at the age of 91, it’s being reported.

Schmitt got his break working at Apex Recording Studio in the ‘50s, where he was mentored by legendary engineer Tom Dowd and ended up unexpectedly engineering a session with Duke Ellington.

In 1958, he moved to Los Angeles, ending up at RCA in 1963. Here, he engineered albums for everyone from Henry Mancini to Sam Cooke, also working on film scores with Alex North and Elmer Bernstein.

After leaving RCA in 1966, Schmitt struck out on his own, producing albums for Jefferson Airplane, Eddie Fisher, Glenn Yarborough, Jackson Browne and Neil Young.

Later engineering credits came on both of Frank Sinatra’s Duets albums, Ray Charles’ Genius Loves Company and several Diana Krall albums. Other stars he recorded included Sammy Davis, Jr, Natalie Cole, Thelonious Monk, Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett, Madonna and Michael Jackson.

Schmitt has won more Grammy Awards than any other engineer or mixer, even being awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He also has his own signature plugin, developed by Leapwing Audio, which is designed to give you his sound in your DAW.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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