Acclaimed recording engineer Al Schmitt was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame yesterday (13 August 2015), in front of the historic Capitol Records Building.
Schmitt's career has spanned more than half a century. He also holds the record for most Grammy Awards held by a recording or mix engineer – to date, Schmitt has so far collected 23 Grammys, including the Grammy Trustees Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2014, Schmitt received the Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music.
A New York native, Schmitt has worked on more than 150 Gold and Platinum albums, and was inducted into the TEC Awards Hall of Fame in 1997 to honour his technical and creative excellence in recording and sound.
In his early days at RCA, Schmitt engineered albums for the likes of Sam Cooke, Rosemary Clooney and Henry Mancini, including the classic song Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany's, which won an Academy Award for Best Song.
In the mid-60s, as demand for his engineering services grew, Schmitt aspired to become an independent producer. In addition to recording all of Sam Cooke's last records, he also worked with Ann Margret, Bobby Darin and Eddie Fisher, and collaborated with Jefferson Airplane, Jackson Browne and Neil Young.
From that point on, some records he would produce, some he would engineer and some would see him fulfil both roles. After returning to engineering again, Schmitt worked on countless Grammy and other award-winning albums at Capitol Studios such as Frank Sinatra’s Duets and Duets II, George Benson’s Breezin, Barbra Streisand’s Back to Broadway and Ray Charles’ Genius Loves Company, to name a few.
He engineered Paul McCartney’s Kisses on the Bottom, which won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Schmitt was also featured in Paul McCartney’s Live Kisses DVD, which took the 2013 Grammy Award for both Best Music Film and Best Surround Sound Album. Schmitt mixed The Beatles: The Night That Changed America at Capitol Studios for AEG/Ehrlich Ventures as well – nominated in the Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety Series category for the 2014 Emmy Awards.
These days, Schmitt spends most of his time working from Capitol Studios, and his recent projects include the latest albums from Neil Young, Storytone and On the Beach.
Picture: Al Schmitt at NAMM's TEC Awards.