Originally published in Front of House Magazine.
Grammy-winning recording engineer Ed Cherney passed today, Oct. 22, after a battle with cancer. Cherney had a long and successful career as one of the industry’s most respected and premier recording engineers for his work on both studio and live remote recording projects.
Born in Chicago in 1950, Cherney began as an amateur musician, but later roadied for some friends’ band and eventually began mixing their live shows. He ended up in the studio working with them, followed by more PA gigs mixing with a local sound company, while studying electronics at DeVry University. After taking a short course with legendary producer-engineer Bruce Swedien, Cherney was hooked on studio life and took an entry-level job at Paragon Recording Studios. Over the next three years, he built his engineering chops.
He then moved to Southern California snagging an assistant engineering gig at Westlake Studios, a favorite haunt of Bruce Swedien and Quincy Jones. He starting with working on Michael Jackson’s The Wall and entered a lifelong association with Swedien and Jones and a host of other top producers including greats like Phil Ramone and Don Was.
Artists he worked with included Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Bob Seeger, Bonnie Raitt, Brian Wilson, Buddy Guy, David Lindley, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Etta James, Goo Goo Dolls, Iggy Pop, Jackson Browne, John Mayer, Keb’ Mo, Ry Cooder, Spinal Tap, Sting, The Rolling Stones, Wallflowers, Willie Nelson and Wynnona Judd. Scores and soundtracks Cheney worked on included Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Coming To America, The Bourne Legacy, Green Hornet, The Hobbit, Hairspray and Sex & The City among many others.
During his career, Cherney received three Grammy Award nominations, an Emmy Award, five TEC Awards, and was inducted into the NAMM TEC Hall of Fame in 2015. Yet through it all, he always remained humble. “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,” he once said. “The secret was to just be cool, stay in God’s graces and work it out.”
Cherney was generous with his time, often sharing his knowledge at NARAS, NAMM and AES events and seminars, and had many friends throughout the industry. Rest well, old friend. You will be missed and never be forgotten.
Ed Cherney is survived by his wife Rose Mann-Cherney. No plans for a memorial have been announced.
Note: Ed Cherney was interviewed as part of the NAMM Oral History program in 2012. That video is available here: namm.org/library/oral-history/ed-cherney.