To recognize the life achievements of one of music's most gifted engineers and producers.
Dowd took a job at a classical music recording studio until he obtained employment at Atlantic Records. He soon became a top recording engineer at Atlantic Records and recorded popular artists such as Ray Charles, The Drifters, The Coasters, Ruth Brown, and Bobby Darin (Dowd recorded the legendary "Mack the Knife") and captured jazz masterpieces by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Thelonius Monk, and Charlie Parker. His first hit was Eileen Barton's "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd a Baked A Cake". It was Dowd's idea to cut Ray Charles' recording of "What'd I Say" into two parts and release them as the "A" and "B" sides of one 45 rpm single record.
Dowd worked as an engineer and producer from the 1940s until the beginning of the 21st century. He recorded albums by many artists including: Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominos, Rod Stewart, Wishbone Ash, Cream, Lulu, Chicago, The Allman Brothers Band, Joe Bonamassa, The J. Geils Band, Meat Loaf, Sonny & Cher, The Rascals, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Kenny Loggins, James Gang, Dusty Springfield, Eddie Harris, Charles Mingus, Herbie Mann, Booker T. and the MGs, The Drifters, Otis Redding, The Coasters, Bobby Darin, Aretha Franklin, Arlan Feiles, Joe Castro and Ruth Brown. Dowd received a Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements in February 2002.
He died of emphysema on October 27, 2002 in Florida, where he had been living and working at Criteria Studios recording studio for many years.
Tom Dowd helped to shape the artists that he worked with, and because he worked with an array of great artists on some of the world's greatest recordings, Dowd was highly influential in creating the sound of the second half of the 20th Century. It was he who encouraged Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records to install an Ampex eight-track recorder, enabling Atlantic to be the first recording company to record using multiple tracks.
Dowd is credited as the engineer who popularized the eight-track recording system for commercial music and popularized the use of stereo sound. Although stereo had been invented in the 1930s, Dowd was the first to use it on a record. He also pioneered the use of linear channel faders as opposed to rotary controls on audio mixers. He devised various methods for altering sound after the initial recording.
1. Tom Dowd was credited with innovating the multi-track recording method.
2. His career spanned six decades and worked with a vast array of great artists in rock, pop, jazz and R&B from the mid-'50s until just before his death.