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Courtesty of Tone Quest Magazine.

Interview with Producer of Layla Album Tom Dowd:

"Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" was recorded with Tom Dowd at Criteria Studios in Miami, and the album was destined to become one of the greatest rock records of all time. Dowd described the experience in an August 2001 interview with Tone-Quest publisher David Wilson.

"Im doing idlewild South here in Miami with The Brothers, and I don't usually take calls during sessions, but this one I had to take because it's Stigwood, and he says, "Eric has put a new band together and he'd like to record, and he's wondering if you have time..." I said, "Sure, we'll work it out. Well, Duane came into the control room and I said,"Duane, I'm sorry, but that was Eric Clapton's manager and I had to take the call." Duane says, "You mean the guy in Cream?" He starts playing me Cream licks. "Man, are you going to record him? Oh, man , yeah, man, I gotta meet him," and on and on, so I told Duane I'd try to set something up. Well, Eric and Carl Radle, Jim Gordon and Bobby Whitlock eventually show up ,

and I had alerted the staff at Criteria that this was going to be brutal-bring earmuffs, because these guyswould be showing up with dobule stacks of Marshalls and god knows what. And when they showed up, they had a tweed champ and a princeton, and Radle has a piggyback Ampeg B15, and I'm thinking, "Whoaaaaaah, what the hell is going on here?" Now, they were not prepared...they had lots of ideas, but nothing solid. That's why the record company included all of the outtakes when they issued the digitally remastered CD, because I was recording everything the entire time they were in the studio. As I think back on it, I made the comment that if anybody walked into that studio with squeaky shoes, we'd blow a take. That's how quiet they were. They weren't wearing earphones, so that everybody could hear each other-Jim Gordon could hear everything that everyone else was playing in the room, and that's the way it went. I couldn't believe what I was listening to, and they completely relished it. One or two days went by and I was recording everything that transpired so that I could play it back and say, "Hey, that would make a hell of a bridge for that other song you were playing." or something like that.

Then I got a call from Duane, and he says, "Are they there? I'm playing in Miami tonight, and can I come up after?" So I mention Duane to Eric and he says, "You mean the guy who played on Wilson Pickett's 'Hey Jude?' We have to go see them." So I took the band down to this outdoor concert, and the crew for the Allman Brothers snuck us in on our hands and knees to the front of the stage right in front of the barricade, and we're sitting on the ground watching Duane playing a solo. All of a sudden he looks down and sees Clapton and his eyes bug out and he just stops playing. Dickie looks, and he figures Duane has broken a string or his amp's blown up, so he starts playing a solo, and all hell breaks loose. I'm really giggling, and they finally regained their composure and finished the show. Then we all went back to the studio and they jammed until two in the afternoon. Duane and Eric are playing, and Eric would say, "Man, how did you do that?" and Duane would show him licks, and they were swapping guitars...Greg Allman and Bobby are trading off between piano and organ, Gordon and Jaimoe are trading places. It was great. They did the damn album in ten days, and same as before, they left, and then they came back and that's when they said that they had this piano part that they wanted to add to the end of Layla. I put the tape on the machine, and as brazen as I was, we got the sound from the original take matched up well enough that day that I just punched in the ending with the band(laughs). We had them playing the song and the original was rolling on the tape, and we just punched it in on cue."

TQR: Was Duane using a small amp, too?

(Editor's Note: We're guessing this would have been a 50's Gibson GA20,GA30 or GA40.

Yes, he was using one of those little old brown Gibson amps, just like the one that Jimi Hall used. He could make that things talk

TQR: Did they cut many of the vocals live?

For "I Looked Away"(Tom Dowd says "I looked Away" but Ive read many books stating it was actually "Thorn Tree In The Garden") they sat Indian styel on the floor in a circle with two omnidirectional mikes in the center and they sang and played the whole thing live. But they did live pilots on everything, and they'd say, "Well, save that, and if we don't get a better take later, we might be able to use that." This was also where Eric and I had our first major 'conversation,'if you know what I mean. After I had mixed the record, he said that the vocals were mixed much to loud. I said,. "You don't realize that your record is going to get played on the radio along side Mick Jagger-whomever-and the vocal has to be out in front. Eric's biggest problem was his insecurity about his singing, but he was a brilliant singer. I knew from Disraeli, where there were songs when he and jack would atlernate lines and no one could tell that jack had stopped singing. You couldn't tell the difference.

How did you feel about Layla?

It literally died for a year after it was released. I thought it was the best work I had done in ten years-since Ray Charles-and I thought how embarrassing it would hav been to have failed with such artistry and musicianship on that record. Thank god for Atlantic's marketing people, because they never gave up on it and eventually it became the national anthem of rock records.

The End

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