Trane - Atlantic Studios in 1961

Tom Dowd was a legendary figure in recorded music.  He was the House Engineer for Atlantic Records and involved in the recording of many giants of  music: John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Aretha Franklin to literally name just a few.  He was also involved in many land mark albums, in fact too many to list.  

As a physicist he understood the technology.  As an engineer he went from the mono direct cut to disc technology to mono tape, two channel, three channel, 4 channel and then, over Ahmet Ertugen's complaints about the cost, 8 track in the early 60's.  That is why most of the Atlantic recordings sound so clean, clear and real - Tom Dowd.

Aretha with Tom on far right

As the '60's progressed Atlantic started to take an interest in Rock Music.  Tom's first real taste of the emerging Rock Music was one of the first super-loud bands in Cream. The volume of this trio and their stacks shocked Tom, even though they only used half stacks in the Studio.  When he went to San Francisco to record them live was when he was really staggered by the volume - he struggled but eventually captured the magic.

In the early '70's he became a free-lance and moved into production, concentrating on Rock Music.  One of his major bands was the Allman Bros.  His most famous album from this period was "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs".  After the blasting stacks of Cream he was surprised to find Eric using little practice amps.

Lighting  up at the desk - Layla Sessions
Tom died of emphysema - at 77, well you always die of something - for him happy old age

Here are some links that are of great interest (Courtesy of Don Green):