Iain Burgess

Iain Burgess, a studio engineer renowned for his role in the ’80s Chicago punk underground and a major influence on and mentor to Steve Albini, died Thursday morning in France of a pulmonary embolism stemming from liver and pancreatic cancer, Albini’s Electrical Audio studios reports.

A U.K. native who relocated to Chicago, Burgess recorded such acts as Albini’s Big Black and Shellac, Ministry, Naked Raygun, Cows and Poster Children. He relocated to the Anjou region of France in 1993 and opened the Black Box Recording Studio with Peter Deimel. As PrefixMag.com notes, “Burgess basically invented the concept of an album ‘engineer’ vs. an album ‘producer’ and was a huge influence on  basically anyone who had anything to do with Steve Albini and Chicago’s Electrical Audio studio.”

A post on Electrical Audio’s forum eulogizes:

“If there is a ‘Chicago sound,’ its foremost recording engineer died today. Iain Burgess, Weymouth, U.K. native and proponent of the ‘huge bigness’ live-centered recording approach found on important rock records throughout the ’80s and ’90s, reportedly passed away today in France. He had been recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Iain was a great and generous guy and had a hell of an ear. Raise a glass (or several) for him.”

This afternoon, Albini posted that he visited the ailing Burgess at his French studio in January, “he was in good spirits and essentially the same guy we’ve always known. From the conversation I had with Dave Odlum, who works and lives at Black Box, the doctors said every indication was that Iain’s passing was peaceful.”

Albini adds:

“Iain was a dear friend and mentor, and I consider him responsible for a good many of the best things that have ever happened to me. As is the case when someone important dies, I find it hard to imagine the world without him. Black Box survives as a testament and monument to Iain’s imagination and perseverance. It’s in the running for the best place on earth to make a record.”

Finally, a poster on the Modern-Radio.com message board who says he roomed with Burgess in Chicago in the ’80s shares his memories, writing, “Iain was a joy to be around and seemed to cloak his affection for people in a spiky balloon of good natured ribbing and jabs. … If there’s a bright side, it’s that he did exactly what he loved doing, exactly where he wanted to do it for the last years of his life.”

A funeral is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 19.

 

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