Forty years ago this January was when I first met Ed Cherney. I was a young engineer and Eddie was sort of getting started. I was working with a great songwriter named Randy Goodrum who decided that he really wanted to be an artist. The album we were working on had a song that was a duet, and he wanted it to be with Mary MacGregor, best known for “Torn Between Two Lovers.”
In those days, it seemed like money was no object for the record companies, and I ended up flying to Los Angeles to do the duet at Westlake. That afternoon, I walked into the studio and there was Ed Cherney, who was going to be the second on the session. I knew from first look that we were going to become good friends.
Ed told me he had just moved there from Chicago, where he had gotten his start in the studio seconding for Bruce Swedien. Bruce moved to L.A. and Eddie followed him out. We got the session done and just hung out there for a while, two Jews telling stupid jokes to each other for about an hour. Ed and I became fast friends. We didn’t hang out a lot because I was in New York, but when we did, those moments were joyous.
Eddie was probably the most knowledgeable, generous and forgiving man anyone could meet. He seemed to love everyone, and everyone loved him as well. Whenever he walked into a room, the mood would change. He brought a sense of laughter and enjoyment to whatever you were doing. Everything would come to a halt while Eddie was there. You would be under pressure to get something done, but you couldn’t resist what kind of crazy stuff was flowing from Ed’s mouth.
Ed and I would walk around at the AES Show and we couldn’t get 20 feet before he was stopped. I felt gifted when I was around Ed. To be able to hang out with Ed in situations where he was in so much demand was an honor. I became closer to Ed as years moved on.
Ed had an amazing gift for making great records. He based everything he did on the vibe that was transmitted through the song. He would spend hours or sometimes days trying to get it to sound like what he wanted. He would take breaks and float into other rooms to try and get inspired. Even when he was doing something that his heart wasn’t into, he would get it to come out incredible. We worked on a couple of things together—we did Woodstock ’94 and Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas and Chicago. At times, those kinds of events would beat you up, but not Ed. He would find a way to bring sanity to something like that. In Dallas, we were having a timecode problem in the truck I was working in. He said, Let’s get out of here while they fix this. He took me over to another stage that was working and introduced me to J.J. Cale. That made my day and the problem seemed like it was light years away. Ed knew everyone and you were amazed by who he would introduce you to.
As most know, Ed was a pretty incredible golfer. My youngest son was pretty incredible too, so I called Ed to find out where to take my son to play golf as his birthday gift. He said Palm Springs would be the place: “I’m gonna meet you there and bring Al Schmitt as well.” Al and I were both pretty horrible but Ed and my son Jordie found each other playing golf. Ed became great friends with both of my kids. He treated them like his own. They both loved him as much as I do.
Ed got very involved with the Music Producers Guild out of London, which was providing producers and engineers with payments from radio stations. The Guild worked it out and soon Ed was trying to get the same thing to happen here. He got Al, Phil Ramone and me involved and then he founded an organization here called the Music Producers Guild of the Americas, which eventually became the Producers & Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy. He was always concerned about people in our industry.
Five years ago, I had an unfortunate accident—I had hit my head and went into a coma. I was at Yale Hospital in Connecticut, and the doctors there were telling my family that I wasn’t going to make it. They said, ‘You should notify his friends and see if they want to say goodbye.’ Ed got on a flight and flew east. I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but I was told that Ed actually laid in my bed and talked to me to try to get me to come out of it. I did come out of it!
Ed brought so much to everyone that it’s going to be very hard with him not here. To me, he was a foundation of the music industry. All of the great music he’s made and how much education he’s brought to the younger generation will be missed dearly.
Eddie and I would speak all the time and never ended a conversation without saying to each other, “I love you.”