Ed Cherney, a Grammy- and Emmy-winning producer and engineer who worked with Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Jackson Browne, Elton John, Etta James, Willie Nelson and many more, died in Los Angeles on October 22 following a battle with cancer. He was 69.
Cherney, who worked out of the iconic Village recording studios in west L.A., was a beloved figure in the music world. For the past few years, he was actively involved with the Grammys’ annual Producers and Engineers Wing Grammy week event, giving opening remarks as guests were welcomed into one of the most exclusive Grammy celebrations of the week.
He was a founding member of that wing, as well as a member of the NAMM TEC Hall of Fame, to which he was elected in 2015.
The respect and admiration he held within the industry was evident from the many moving tributes paid to him in the hours after news broke, including such luminaries as Raitt, Keith Richards and Slash, among others.
Raitt paid her respects on her Instagram, writing: “Heartbroken at the loss of my dear friend and brilliant engineer/producer, Ed Cherney. Together with Don Was, we made a mighty trio, creating some of the most celebrated albums of our careers, garnering us a string of Grammy nominations and awards for ‘Nick of Time,’ ‘Luck of the Draw,’ ‘Longing in their Hearts’ and ‘Road Tested’ in the early-mid 90’s. He was one of the sweetest, funniest, big hearted and talented people I’ve ever known, as widely liked as he was respected as one of our businesses greatest recording Engineers. I will miss him so much and am so grateful we got to have him as long as we did. Thank God he is out of pain and my deepest sympathy goes out to his beloved longtime wife and partner, Rose. #edcherney”
Slash posted: “RIP #EdCherney One of the greatest guys in the business [and] a good friend. We are going to miss you terribly.”
And Richards said on Twitter, “So sad to hear that Ed has passed. He was a brilliant engineer and we did some wonderful things together with the Rolling Stones and Don Was. He will be missed. Bless you, Ed!”
Cherney, who was born in Chicago in 1950, was nominated for five Grammys, taking home his first in 1995 for his work on Raitt’s “Nick of Time” album. The list of credits he leaves behind is long, including Clapton’s Grammy-winning “Tears In Heaven,” Dylan’s “Under the Red Sky,” John’s “Duets” and the Stones’ “Bridges To Babylon” as well as the scores and soundtracks for such memorable films as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Coming to America” and “Hairspray.”
All the accolades aside, Cherney was known for his humility, which included crediting others with his success.
As Cherney wrote in his official bio: “I engineer, mix and produce records for a living. I get to work with genuine artists, making music, sometimes all night. Occasionally, there’s gushing: I’ve won Grammys and TEC Awards — I actually recently won my first Emmy. What success I’ve had owes much to the musical greats I’ve sat behind over the years — giants like Quincy Jones and Bruce Swedien, Don Was and Phil Ramone — listening through their ears, learning how they make great music.”
In that same bio, he shared the secret for his success, writing: “I’m all up in the tech. But knowing where a song’s heart lies and seeing that it shines through is what I’m known for and maybe why I’ve worked with such diverse artists.”