By: Robert MacNeil
I was fortunate enough to be friends with Tom Dowd before he passed on and he gave me one of the highlights of my life. In April 1990, he called me up one night in Miami and asked if I was busy that evening. I said “No, what’s up, Tom”? He asked me if I would like to come down to Criteria Studios in North Miami and watch a session with The Brothers. It took me one second to say, “I’ll be there in an hour”.
When I arrived at the studio, the Brothers had everything set up as if playing a live gig right there in the studio. Tom had 3 music stands spread out in the window(floor to ceiling) of the control room. He had the sheet music spread across the music stands for the first number they were recording that night. The Brothers took their cue from Tom and started playing, “Good Clean Fun”.
They did several takes with Gregg doing scratch vocals so the rest of the band would know where to come in, etc. Dickey and Warren were the closest to the window and it was exhilarating to watch them do their respective solos while I was sitting next to engineer Jay Marks at the control board as Tom stood just in front of the control board “directing”.
I was amazed at how quickly they layed down the song, they were incredibly tight and obviously prepared for it. At one point, Tom stopped them while they were playing and asked them what they thought about a slight note change in one part of the song. He made a suggestion and they all agreed that it would sound better that way. Tom then said, “okay, starting from line 24(example), one, two, three, and they started right on the note from where they made the new change without having to start the whole song over. Needless to say, being my first time in the studio with such a professional band, I was knocked out.
After they finished “Good Clean Fun”, Tom said to me, “You have to go hang out in the lounge with the rest of The Brothers while Gregg and I lay down his vocal track for the song.” I was kind of surprised and said,”Gregg sings in front of thousands of people while he’s onstage, why doesn’t he sing with everybody else in the room?” Tom replied, “this is the way I’ve always done it with him, he does it better this way without anybody else in
All of us went to the lounge and talked, played pool, etc. for about 45 minutes or so and Tom came back and said, “okay, let’s go back into the studio.” They completed the song in two takes if my memory serves me right.(before final mixing)
They next song they did was “Gambler’s Roll”. They also layed this one down in a couple of takes. After the basic track was laid down, Warren had to record his solo. All the rest of The Brothers went back to the lounge again to wait for Tom and Warren to finish his solo track. Tom asked me if I wanted to stay and watch Warren “lay it down”. Hell yeah, I was gonna’ stay!! Needless to say, Warren blew my socks off with his rippin’ Blues solo! He nailed it on the first take.
When he walked back into the control room to listen to the playback with Tom, Jay Marks and me, I said,”Warren, you done made Duane proud, he’s up there smilin’ at you right now!”He said, Thanks, man, I appreciate that,” in his usual humble manner.
I was on top of the world when I left Criteria late that night, it’s one night
I’ll never forget.(I had Jay Marks take a polaroid picture of Tom, Warren and
me that I still have) I miss Tom Dowd, he was a dear friend, and I loved him. There will never be another one like him. God Bless… “And the road goes on forever”