by Clive Young.
New York (April 30, 2010)—Known for his commitment to quality recordings and his pioneering work with synthesizers, Walter Sear died yesterday at the age of 79, due to complications stemming from a fall in March.
Born in 1930, Sear started out as a tuba player, performing for six years in the pit at Radio City Music Hall during the 1950s, a time when he also sold self-designed tubas built and imported from Europe. In the following decade, he teamed up with synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog, becoming a business partner and sales agent for the inventor. Sear, himself a synthesizer composer and performer, was involved in a number of soundtracks, from Oscar-winning best picture Midnight Cowboy to Jim Henson’s The Cube to National Lampoon’s Disco Beaver from Outer Space.
Since 1970, he had been the proprietor of New York’s Sear Sound recording studio, a facility with a client list steeped in household names like David Bowie, Norah Jones, Muse, Steely Dan, Wynton Marsalis, Lou Reed, Suzanne Vega, Wilco, and Paul McCartney. Producers who have worked at the studio regularly include Phil Ramone, John Leventhal, Hugh Padgham, Kevin Killen and Craig Street. The studio is well-envied for its collection of vintage recording gear that includes more than 275 microphones, as well as a Studer 1-inch, 2-track mastering deck that Sear converted from its original state as a 1-inch 4-track recorder used to create The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at Abbey Road Studios.
News of Sear’s passing was first broken yesterday by producer/engineer John Agnello (The Hold Steady, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth). Posting on Twitter, he wrote simply, “A great man, and I don’t throw that word around, passed this morning. A legend in the recording world. I’ll miss him tons. RIP Walter Sear.”