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Tom Dowd

Tom Dowd was born on 20/10/1925 in Manhattan, New York. Dowd learnt to play various instruments as he grew up including piano, tuba, violin, string bass. His father was a concertmaster and his mother was an opera singer.
In 1942, Dowd graduated from Stuyvesant High School and enrolled at City College of New York to continue music education. Dowd also played in a band at New York's Columbia University where he became a conductor. He also worked in in a physics laboratory at Columbia University.
At the age of 18, Dowd was drafted into the US military. He was given the rank of sergeant. Dowd continued his work at Columbia in physics. He would work on the Manhattan Project, though the purpose of the project was unknown until 1945. Dowd planned to obtain a degree in nuclear physics after his work on the project. Because the work was top secret and the university did not recognise it, Dowd decided not to continue as he would not have been able to continue his physics education.
Dowd got a job at a classical music recording studio, before being employed by Atlantic Records.
In 1950, he had his first hit with Eileen Barton's "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake. Dowd would soon become one of the most popular recording engineers in the business and recorded artists such as Ray Charles, the Drifters, the Coasters, Ruth Brown and Bobby Darin.
During the 1950s, Dowd was also an employee of Apex Studios.
In 1958, Dowd would encourage Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records to install an Ampex eight-track recorder, making Atlantic the first recording company to record using multiple tracks. As well as being influential as one of the first eight-track recording engineer, Dowd popularised the use of stereophonic sound.
In 1959, Dowd recorded Bobby Darin's hit cover of "Mack the Knife". Dowd would record with jazz artists such as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. Also in 1959, Dowd was the recording engineer for Ray Charles's recording of "What'd I Say". It was Dowd who had the idea of splitting the song into two parts and release them as an A-side and B-side.
Dowd would work as an engineer and produce into the 21st century. Whilst he worked for Atlantic Records he lived in Westwood, New Jersey with his wife Jackie and sons. He recorded albums with artists such as Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominos, Rod Stewart, Wishbone Ash, New Model Army, Cream, Lulu, Chicago, the Allman Brothers Band, Joe Bonamassa, the J. Geils Band, Meat Loaf, Sonny & Cher, the Rascals, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Eagles, the Four Seasons, Kenny Loggins, James Gang, Dusty Springfield, Eddie Harris, Charles Mingus, Herbie Mann, Booker T. and the MGs, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Joe Castro and Primal Scream.
During his later years, Dowd lived in Florida and worked at Criteria Studios.
In 2002, Dowd received a Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements.
On 27/10/2002, Dowd died of emphysema in Florida.
In 2012, Dowd was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Music History Calendar is written by the Blues Rock artist Marshland Pete
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