July 25, 2010
A man who seemingly fit many lives into one lifetime, Tom Dowd was born on October 20, 1925 in New York City. At a young age he excelled in mathematics and physics, leading to his work from the ages of 16 to 20 on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University. In 1946, as a sergeant in the Army Corps of Engineers, he oversaw a team of radiation detection specialists at the atomic bomb tests in Bikini Atoll. After his discharge from Army, he soon began applying his science background to help revolutionize the process of recording music. While working for Atlantic Records, his pioneering work in binaural stereo recording, and later his design of the eight-track console, modernized the recording industry.
Tom Dowd produced and engineered timeless records for artists including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Cream, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band, Dusty Springfield and countless other celebrated musicians. Dowd also formed both strong professional and personal relationships with many of these artists, including Eric Clapton, starting with Cream and leading to their working partnership on Layla and Other Assorted Loves Songs and collaborations on several of Clapton's finest solo albums.
Tom Dowd passed away on October 27, 2002, one week after his 77th birthday. He will never be forgotten.