Rick Will, Grammy-nominated producer and engineer, has died
Rick “Soldier” Will, the U.S. producer and mix engineer who worked the desk for many of Australia’s biggest artists including Jimmy Barnes, Cold Chisel and Boy & Bear, and a who’s who of trans-Atlantic stars from Thom Yorke to Johnny Cash, died last weekend following a heart attack.
Across a career spanning four decades, Will built a staggering portfolio with credits on more than 350 records and three Grammy nominations for his work.
Will’s door was open to the very best in the business, from Nine Inch Nails, to No Doubt, Gillian Welch and Incubus, the latter partnership yielding a Grammy nomination, for “Morning View” (Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical).
It was in Sydney where Will lived and worked in his final years. A graduate of Belmont University, Will was nominated for an ARIA Award for his engineering work on Grinspoon’s sixth album, Six to Midnight. The LP went top 10 in Australia, and enjoyed traditional releases in Japan and the U.K.
His Grammy nominations came in 1990 for Foster & Lloyd’s ‘Whoa’ (Best Country Instrumental Performance), the following year for Ziggy Marley’s Joy and Blues (Best Reggae Album, 1991), and in 2002, with Incubus.
Will was “such a gifted engineer and producer, but first and foremost he was a kind, caring friend and a loving, proud father to his two sons, Oskar and Olly,” Michael Taylor, Managing Director of Universal Music Australia, tells TIO.
Rick “loved making records – getting the best performance from the artist or band, the best sound from the room, the best sound from the instruments. He engineered for legends like T Bone Burnett, so he knew lost arts like how to cut tape or set-up the optimal vocal chain for a certain type of singer,” Taylor continues.
“But he lived in the modern recording industry too, teaching young producers the best plug-ins and how to get that elusive sound on nothing but a laptop. Rick was humble. Many people he worked with didn’t know they were in a room with one of the best engineers in the business – multiple Grammy nominations, ARIA awards, multi-platinum records. And Rick preferred it this way – it kept the team approach and the super positive attitude he wanted in the studio when working…that anything is possible.”
The music community is turning to social media to remember Will as a producer and engineer of the highest quality.
“RIP Rick Will. We made beautiful records together,” wrote Jimmy Barnes. “Rick engineered on Heat, Two Fires, Last Wave of Summer. He was one of the best sound engineers and the most gentle, sweet guys you’d ever meet. Rest well my friend.”
Will produced and mixed Boy & Bear’s EP With Emperor Antarctica, “and we’ll be forever great for the love, talent and humour he brought to the process. RIP Rick,” say members of the band.
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.