The Brag Media
News October 27, 2015

Award winning producer Peter Dawkins dies after fall

Peter Dawkins, one of the most successful record producers and A&R executives to work in Australia, has died.

The 68-year-old sustained fatal injuries after falling down the stairs at his home in the Blue Mountains late last week.

Among the many tracks Dawkins produced were major Australian hits: Dragon’s Are You Old Enough and April Sun In Cuba, John Farnham’s Don’t You Know It’s Magic, Air Supply’ Love And Other Bruises, Mi-Sex’s Computer Games and People, Ross Ryan’s I Am Pegasus, Pseudo Echo’s Listening, Russell Morris’ Wings Of An Eagle, Slim Dusty’s Lights On The Hill and Billy Thorpe’s It’s Almost Summer.

He also helmed classic albums including Australian Crawl’s Sirocco, Matt Finish’s Short Note, Spectrum’s Testimonial, MEO 245’s Screen Memory and The Little Heroes’ self titled debut.

Longtime friend and music entrepreneur Phil Tripp told TMN, “For a guy who produced 20 #1 hit singles and more than 50 Gold and Platinum albums, Dawk was as humble as they come. He also was generous with his time trying to reclaim due royalties for artists. For a diminutive fella, he had a huge set of ears.”

In fact, so astute was Dawkins’ ability to spot a hit that he signed up Dragon, Matt Finish and Little Heroes on the strength of just one live show, and Air Supply from a random cassette demo. He admitted, “You don’t do it that often in a career, but sometimes you just have to. Like, with Dragon, I heard one song after another, every one a potential hit.”

One time EMI A&R executive Michael Matthews recalled that such was Dawkins’ talent spotting reputation that “when the word got around that Peter was going to check out a band, A&R execs from other record companies would also be at the same show.”

Born in New Zealand, Dawkins became a drummer at the age of 16. He bought his first drum kit for £100 by winning a Twisting marathon (108 hours, 55 minutes). In the 1960s he toured Europe with Me And The Others, and The New Nadir (a high was a jam session with Jimi Hendrix), before returning to New Zealand and producing seven local chart toppers.

He moved to Sydney in 1972 and became house producer and A&R head for EMI, Festival and CBS. He also set up the Giant and Neon labels and ran Giant Studios. He also had two international postings, in London to run Alberts’ UK office and in California to be A&R director for CBS’s Portrait imprint.

In 1989, at the age of 42, Dawkins was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He was forced him to stop work in the music industry for 16 years. In that time he was CEO of Parkinson’s NSW and Chair of the Golden Turkey Roast fundraising program for eight years. In 2005, the music industry raised money for deep brain stimulation treatment. SonyBMG also issued a compilation of his greatest productions as For Pete’s Sake to raise more money.

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