Ken Scott produced some of my all-time favorite albums, yet (I am embarrassed to admit), I did not realize it until after reading Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust. For some reason certain producers are nearly as famous as the artists they worked with. Sir George Martin with The Beatles is one example, Roy Thomas Baker with Queen is another. Among the many classics Ken Scott manned the booth for are Supertramp’s Crime of the Century, and as the title mentions, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.
In his new autobiography, Mr. Scott walks us through his remarkable career, and provides some amazing insights into what goes into the actual production of a record. He began at EMI Studios, which were renamed Abbey Road Studios after The Beatles’ album made it so famous. His first job was the studio equivalent of the mailroom, in the tape library. It was 1964, he was 17, and Beatlemania was in full bloom. He was as starstruck as anyone he says, and almost blew it with a couple of gaffes, but managed to hang on.
From the tape library, where he literally logged tapes all day long, he moved up to “button-pusher,” worked on cutting masters, then into engineering, and finally made the jump to producer. It is a fascinating primer of how a man methodically worked his way through the ranks inside the hallowed studio halls. I have read a lot of music-related books, but never anything that brought you this close to the actual process of creating an album.
Along the way he became a trusted collaborator, and went from being a fan, to actually working with The Beatles, both as a group, and on some of their later solo albums. It is an intriguing story, as are the variety of groups he worked with over the years. His final work at EMI was as engineer of The White Album. In 1968 he was let go when a new manager by the name of Alan Stagge decided to make something of a clean sweep and bring in new blood.