Berklee president Roger H. Brown will present an honorary doctor of music degree to producer and engineer Al Schmitt on September 10, in Los Angeles. Schmitt is a 21-time Grammy Award-winner who has worked on 160 gold- and platinum-selling albums. The ceremony, at the iconic Capitol Records building, is part of an event commemorating the 25th anniversary of Berklee Today—the college’s alumni magazine.
This is the first time Berklee—named the industry’s top music school byThe Hollywood Reporter—has presented an honorary doctorate in Los Angeles. The Berklee Center in LA has served as the college’s embassy to the music industry and alumni community for more than 20 years.
Schmitt has worked with some of the greatest musical icons of the past 50 years. He won his first Grammy Award in 1962 for engineering Henry Mancini’s Hatari!, and his most recent in 2013 for Paul McCartney’s Live Kisses. In between, Schmitt has been awarded Grammys for work with George Benson, Steely Dan, Natalie Cole, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Luis Miguel, Ray Charles, Norah Jones, Chick Corea, and Dee Dee Bridgewater. He has also worked with Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Madonna, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and Herbie Hancock, among many others.
Schmitt has been inducted into the TEC Awards Hall of Fame, received the Grammy Trustees Lifetime Achievement Award, and served on the Recording Academy’s National Board of Trustees. He was nominated for a 2014 Emmy Award for his work on CBS’s The Beatles: The Night That Changed America. Schmitt’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame will be placed in 2015.
Schmitt grew up in New York and worked at Apex Studios and Atlantic Records, where he was mentored by Tom Dowd, before moving to Los Angeles. In the 1960s, he was the first engineer hired when RCA opened its studio in Hollywood. There, he engineered recordings by Cal Tjader and Ike and Tina Turner, and produced albums by Sam Cooke and Jefferson Airplane. Schmitt also worked at Capitol Studios in the 60s with Ann Margaret, Eddie Fisher, and Bobby Darin.
Past recipients of Berklee's honorary doctorate include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Page, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Juan Luis Guerra, David Bowie, George Martin, Bonnie Raitt, George Clinton, and Carole King.