Jim Dickson

(Chris' early bands, The Byrds' formation, Burrito Brothers LPs)

Dickson would be personally, for me, my first producer, when we did The Hillmen [originally the Golden State Boys]. We were cutting that at night, in a similar way that The Byrds were rehearsing at night. Same studio, World Pacific. We'd go in, and whenever we'd get a little time we'd record a couple to 2-track, basically. He'd just mix it onto 2-track like a bluegrass band. Jim was the first producer, in that sense. For [The Scottsville] Squirrel Barkers, we didn't really even have a producer. We just had somebody engineer us and guide us through the process. He was good, at the time. Jim Dickson came back again for a Burrito Brothers album or two.

Allen Stanton

(The Byrds' 3rd LP)

Allen Stanton was an exec at Columbia. Somehow, in between people, he was assigned to one of the records [Fifth Dimension]. All I remember is Allen Stanton would be over – with his shirt and tie, sleeves rolled up – reading the newspaper. Basically he was going, "These guys know what they're doing. I'll just sort of be in here." Most of the engineers were so funny back then. They had shirts and ties. They had to take union breaks. You're right in the middle of almost capturing magic and, "We've got to take a break now!" It was hard to convince them to do one more take. But whatever; it all worked out.

Terry Melcher

(The Byrds' 1st & 2nd [plus later] albums)

Terry Melcher was at Columbia Records. Terry was, as I've said in the book, Doris Day's son. Marty Melcher, Doris's husband, had adopted Terry and raised him. Marty was running Columbia at the time. Terry was not necessarily the spoiled kid who got the job. He was a good producer. He was a good musician. He had written songs, worked with The Beach Boys, and I think there's a fellow, Bruce Johnston, who he wrote songs with [as Bruce & Terry]. Terry understood the song and was aware enough, too, that we did need to really, for the first single, "Mr. Tambourine Man," to bring in session guys. I could argue and say, "Well, it's awful slick," but it did get that door open. It knocked that door open and we had a number one single. So how can you argue that? I've had people over the years say, "Oh, well The Byrds never played on their records." I say, "Listen to the first album [also Mr. Tambourine Man]! Listen to the cut of "Mr. Tambourine Man." You can see it's a different thing. Then Roger [McGuinn] continued to work with Terry.

Henry Lewy & Larry Marks

(The Flying Burrito Brothers)

In the Burrito Brothers I worked with Henry Lewy, who's a wonderful man, and another fellow, Larry Marks, was more of a producer. Henry was an eclectic engineer. He really ended up doing some of his best work with jazz and Joni Mitchell. He's great. He's a joy to work with.

Gary Usher

(The Byrds' 4th through 6th albums)

He was great to work with. I think Roger McGuinn would agree with me. Gary was really a good producer. He was open to ideas. He was a joy to work with. I really liked Gary a lot. We've lost him too, but he was a very good producer. I've had some wonderful ones over the years. On The Notorious Byrd Brothers it really got down to McGuinn, Gary, and I, as it says in my book. We ended up finishing that record. It came out amazingly. People were very receptive to it.

Ron & Howard Albert

(aka, The Albert Brothers; Manassas, McGuinn, Clark & Hillman)

If the opportunity presented itself, I'd work with them in a second. They had a wonderful work ethic; they were very patient, and they got great sounds on everything. Now country, or what I did, really wasn't their background. That wasn't the kind of music they grew up with. It was more rock and R&B, but they handled it quite well. I thought the first McGuinn, Clark & Hillman album [titled McGuinn, Clark & Hillman] was a good record. It was a listenable, good piece of work. They were great to work with. Down at Criteria [Studios] then, The Bee Gees took over one of the studios, because they were working so much. They were so successful. I got to know Robin and Maurice [Gibb]. I never met Barry [Gibb]; I wish I had. I loved The Bee Gees; I thought they were so good. It was quite exciting working at Criteria with Ronnie and Howie.

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Jerry Wexler & Barry Beckett


It was a funny thing. It was an interesting experiment, because Jerry was married to my wife's sister. I think, just in passing, I mentioned it to Jerry Wexler one day, but he didn't quite understand what we were. We had songs that we had written. There were a couple on the album that we did include. But doing the more hard rock stuff was so out of context. It's funny. Graham Parker's "Soul Shoes" is on that album. "I got my soul shoesÉ". I remember playing it for my kids and they were like, "Get down, dad! Rock out!" Jerry was trying to get me to sound like Mick Jagger. I said, "That's not me!" That was the joke of him turning us into Sam & Dave at Muscle Shoals. But yeah, he's a brilliant producer. But he and Barry Beckett, it just wasn't the right fit. It's okay. Water under the bridge.

Paul Worley & Ed Seay

(The Desert Rose Band)

It was a good relationship. Worley, of course, has been awfully successful over the years [Big & Rich, Lady Antebellum]. I ran into Ed Seay about a year and a half ago at one of the Marty Stuart/Roger McGuinn shows. He's great. He also engineered those "new" cuts we did, about three or four songs, for The Byrds' box set [The Byrds, 1990]. Basically Paul let us [The Desert Rose Band] do what we wanted. He would sort of guide us. I think, at that point, people weren't functioning as A&R men getting us material. They were there guiding us through the process of putting tracks down. Funny enough, with The Desert Rose Band, we made our deal and all that, and all of a sudden I was getting inundated with these songs. I learned, yes, Nashville is a publishing town. I got sent songs that we wouldn't have touched. They were so country rock 101; just goofball stuff. We didn't want to sing about "picking the banjo with the mule," or any of that. Or "momma and daddy and momma told me, blah blah blah." It wasn't our background, and we had our own songs. If I felt that the songs I came up with – or anybody came up with – didn't really stand up, we'd go and find outside writers. The idea was to make a good record. It sounds noble, but that's really what I wanted to do; to make a listenable record that you didn't have to get up and fast-forward a suspect cut.

Richie Podolor & Bill Cooper

(The Souther–Hillman–Furay Band, solo)

Also good producers. Also crazy as a loon; both of them! Richie Podolor was the first one to figure out to try to mic a bass drum. No one ever thought of that! Well, they were dealing with limited tracks on analog. Podolor also mixed Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild." One of the best rock Ôn' roll records ever made. That song in itself made Easy Rider, the movie. You look at that movie and go, "Eh? It's sort of lame." But when it starts with "Born to Be Wild" and they kick-start their bikes, man; that's powerful. We did The Souther–Hillman–Furay Band and then I did a solo album [Like a Hurricane] with him. Richie had so many instruments. There was one mandolin I was trying to get off of him for years. I said, "What are you going to do, take this and bury it with you in the coffin?" He wouldn't get off of it. Richie had great ideas. He was so much fun to work with.

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Tom Petty

(Chris' 2017 solo LP, Bidin' My Time)

Ryan Ulyate was Tom's engineer. He's so good. I don't think anybody's ever gotten a better vocal sound on me than Ryan. That's another one who I'd work with again in two seconds. In fact, we did; we went back and cut [The Byrds'] "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" with this band, The Shelters. Sirius XM was doing a tribute to the 30th anniversary of Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever, and everybody did a track off of that. Ryan came up with the idea of starting it acoustically and then bringing the band in. It came out to be a great cut, rather than doing it like The Byrds or Tom did it. What's the point of that? Tom was a terrific, terrific producer. I think Tom wanted to do other stuff, because he told me in one of my last conversations with him: I said, "I really appreciate what you've done. I wasn't thinking of ever making more records." He said, "What are you talking about? I'm not done with you yet! I want to do an electric rock and an electric country record with you." Unfortunately we didn't get to do that. He would have been the guy to have gotten The Byrds back in the studio, because everybody knew Tom. Roger knew him the best. Roger went on the road with him and had a long, long relationship with him. I was honored to work with Tom!

John Jorgenson & Herb Pedersen

(various solo LPs)

I enjoy working with them. We still work together. We were going to go out this month and promote this book, which should be in March, 2021 now. But John and Herb, my god; I've been working off and on with them for almost 30 years. Herb much longer than that. It's comfortable; they know what I do, and we're getting along great. That's how it works, in the best way.

Herb Pedersen, Tom Petty, David Crsoby, Chris Hillman in the studio
Herb Pedersen, Tom Petty, David Crsoby, Chris Hillman in the studio Josh Jove