Dinky Dawson

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Engineer Stuart "Dinky" Dawson was one of the most important figures ever in the development of concert sound for rock bands, and was involved in some of the '70s most-acclaimed rock albums -- including…
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Engineer Stuart "Dinky" Dawson was one of the most important figures ever in the development of concert sound for rock bands, and was involved in some of the '70s most-acclaimed rock albums -- including Lou Reed's Berlin and Rock & Roll Animal, the Modern Lovers' earliest recording sessions (documented later on the compilation Original Modern Lovers), the J. Geils Band's Full House Live, as well as the Steely Dan classics Katy Lied, Royal Scam, and arguably their finest hour, Aja. Born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire (in England), Dawson discovered rock & roll along with other teenagers across the world, but instead of forming a band like countless others did at the time, he became a disk jockey, playing records in clubs throughout England and Germany.

Dawson realized soon after that developing technical production in this new rock music was an integral, yet uncharted territory, and began modifying bands' equipment, as he was eventually named Fleetwood Mac's tour manager and sound engineer for their early European and American tours, concerts, radio, and TV shows. Throughout the late '60s and early '70s, he designed, maintained, and operated the band's sound system, which, at the time, was one of the first sophisticated setups to be consistently used by a touring band (he also was one of the first live engineers to leave the side of the stage and mix from out in the audience). Dawson also worked with Fleetwood Mac as a sound consultant on some of their last blues-based albums, including 1969's English Rose and Then Play On, as well as 1970's Kiln House and Blues Jam in Chicago. Also during this time, he helped design and operate WEM sound equipment, which at the time was the preferred brand used by all British groups of the era (the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, etc.).

After leaving the Fleetwood Mac fold, Dawson relocated to the U.S., where he became the sound engineer for the Byrds -- designing and operating their sound system (he engineered their early '70s recordings Byrdmaniax and Farther Along). Around the same time, the Dawson Sound Company was created, in which the first acoustic suspension sound system was created -- quickly becoming the preferred sound reinforcement company of such rockers as the Kinks, Joan Baez, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, J. Geils Band, Warren Zevon, Orleans, and Ambrosia (it also became the first sound company to tour Russia on State Department-sponsored performances by B.B. King).

By the '80s, Dawson was installing sound systems in such acclaimed rock clubs as the Paradise, Nick's Comedy Stop, and the Channel (where he was also the production coordinator), as well as at Harvard University, Bridgewater State College, and Ansche Chesed Temple. During this time, Dawson broadened his horizons by working with such non-rock acts as Liberace, Carol Channing, Johnny Mathis, and Burt Bacharach, in addition to working on multimedia productions with dancer/teacher Sharron Weiner. By the '90s, Dawson was hired as production consultant/sound engineer for New Kids on the Block, Inner Circle, Chris Whitely, and Ke. Subsequently, Dawson was invited to give a guest lecture at Berklee College of Music, and he also began writing for both the publications Mix and Musician. 1998 saw the release of the book Life on the Road: The Incredible Rock 'n' Roll Adventures of Dinky Dawson, penned by Dawson and Carter Alan, and in 2000, a vintage Fleetwood Mac show recorded from Dawson's mixing console, Shrine 69, was issued.