Quotes about Tom Wilson

“The band never again had as good a producer as Tom Wilson.”
—  John Cale, quoted in Up-Tight: The Velvet Underground Story

“The producers that have meant the most to me are Tom Wilson, John Hammond and Bob Johnston.”
—  Bob Dylan, 1974

“Tom Wilson was a great guy. He had a fascinating ability to read The Wall Street Journal, have a blonde sitting on his lap, and tell the engineer to add more compression to the vocal all at the same time. But by the time we started working on our third album, he was not talking to the engineer as much and talking to the blonde a little bit more, and so I said, ‘Well, why don’t you just let me produce this? I know you have other things on your mind.’ We’re Only In It for the Money was the first album that I produced. He produced the first two.”
—  Frank Zappa, MTV interview, 1986

“Tom Wilson signed me to MGM in 1965. He was such an ebullient spirit — charismatic, statuesque, and curiously empowering for those in his orbit. That he was Ivy as well as street smart (viz. Cecil Taylor) was a jaw dropper.”
—  Van Dyke Parks, 2013

“Tom’s gift was his brain. He was a great Idea Man. He could tell an engineer that he wanted this or that sort of sound, but adding a rock rhythm section to “Sounds of Silence” — that was an idea. His mind generated ideas beyond the recording studio to marketing, sales, and design. A gifted man — and a man of taste.”
—  Producer John Simon, 2013 (full reminiscence here)

“I spent countless hours with Tom — playing in jam sessions he organized at the Harvard radio station; working for him and with him on Transition Records; participating in the Donald Byrd recording session; talking about girls; hanging out at his home; buying two exotic cars from him — an Armstrong Siddley and an old Citroen Onze Chevaux, neither of which drove worth a damn but looked great; and learning about life.”
—  Bassist Chuck Israels, 2013 (full reminiscence here)

“Tom Wilson was on the staff at Columbia in the 1960s and doing these radically different combinations of records—Velvet Underground, early Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel. He’s probably the first person I was aware of as a producer. I was 8 or 9 and my dad bought Bringing It All Back Home, and I remember hearing “Bob Dylan’s 113th Dream,” and thinking to myself that somebody had made the decision to leave this mistake at the beginning of the tune, this sort of false start, and then start the tune over again.”
— Producer Craig Street, Mix Magazine, Oct. 1, 1999

“Tom Wilson was an extraordinary individual, a figure of great significance in the history of late 20th century music. A book is way overdue. His story is monumental—and it takes in lots of great musicians’ stories. He was a f***ing giant. And where’s the acknowledgement? I like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but they’re guilty of some insane omissions, and this is one. Many musicians in the Hall got their first big break from Tom. He was one of the greatest producers in the history of record production.”
Marshall Crenshaw, 2013

“Congratulations to the producer Tom Wilson for having got onto a record a very creditable replica of a pop group’s live sound. I have never before heard the aura of high frequencies and distortion which binds the sound together into a single phenomenon coming out of a gramophone record!”
—  Tim Souster, The Listener (U.K.), July 4, 1968, reviewing VU’s White Light/White Heat

“Congratulations to the producer Tom Wilson for having got onto a record a very creditable replica of a pop group’s live sound. I have never before heard the aura of high frequencies and distortion which binds the sound together into a single phenomenon coming out of a gramophone record!”
—  Tim Souster, The Listener (U.K.), July 4, 1968, reviewing VU’s White Light/White Heat

“I am so NOT a music person, therefore in no way qualified to even have an opinion about Tom Wilson’s magnificent production legacy.”
—  Danny Fields

 

Updated: June 10, 2016