Chris Thomas

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Chris Thomas (born January 13, 1947 in Perivale, Middlesex ) is a British music producer . In the earlier 1970s he produced bands like Procol Harum , Roxy Music and Badfinger before the album 1977 Never Mind the Bollocks of Sex Pistols produced. In the 1980s he produced for The Pretenders , Pete Townshend , Elton John and INXS and in the 1990s for the Britpop band Pulp . Thomas worked with sound engineer Bill Price many times in the 1970s and with Steve Churchyard in the 1980s.


In the early 1960s he played the violin and piano . At the age of 15 he gave up a junior program at London's Royal Academy of Music and began playing guitar and a little later bass because he was enthusiastic about the sound of the up-and-coming The Beatles . He formed a blues rock band called Black Cat Bones and later the band Second Thought and played gigs in London where he met Mitch Mitchell , Pete Townshend and Ron Wood . He remained unsuccessful as a musician for several years and in 1965 applied for a job with George Martin at Abbey Road Studios . Martin (at that time still at EMI and working on the production of the album Help! ) Initially turned it down. In 1967 Martin founded AIR London, the first independent production company, Thomas applied again and was accepted this time. About a year later, Martin entrusted him as a vacation replacement with recordings for the Beatles:

“Dear Chris, hope you had a nice holiday - I'm off on mine now. Make yourself available to The Beatles. "

"Dear Chris, I hope you had a great vacation - I'm gone now myself. Get ready for the Beatles. "

- George Martin : in a note to Chris Thomas

The recordings were for Helter Skelter and the "Teaboy" became a music producer during the course of the recording. Martin then encouraged him to look for and build his own bands. Thomas found a first band in the Climax Chicago Blues Band and produced their first four albums. He refined his poor knowledge of studio technology with the band Procol Harum on their albums Home , Broken Barricades and Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra . In particular, with the live album by Procol Harum and the 52-piece symphony orchestra, Thomas attracted attention to musicians such as John Cale and Pink Floyd . For Cale he produced Paris in 1919 and for Pink Floyd he mixed Dark Side of The Moon . He then turned back to Procol Harum, before John Cale recommended Thomas for Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure due to scheduling issues. Thomas was to look after three more albums for Roxy Music, mix the solo debut of Brian Eno ( Here Comes the Warm Jets ) and produced Bryan Ferries Let's Stick Together .

In 1975 Thomas was approached by Malcolm McLaren whether he would like to produce for the late New York Dolls . The collaboration did not take place anymore because the band broke up. But a year later, McLaren was able to engage Thomas for his new project: a still completely unknown punk band, the Sex Pistols . In October the collaboration began with the recordings for the single Anarchy in the UK in the Wessex Studios, still with Matlock on bass. He duplicated several guitar riffs and dubbed numerous guitar tracks; he also managed to capture John Lydon's screaming vocals, raw but understandable. The recordings for Never Mind the Bollocks turned out to be difficult after Matlock's expulsion; Vicious , the new bass player, barely mastered his instrument. Matlock didn't want to step in as a session musician, so Thomas was forced to let guitarist Steve Jones play the bass parts. This shaped the Sex Pistols sound:

“I was never really interested in the Pistol's as a social phenomenon. I thought I could make a good rock 'n' roll record with them, and as such I thought they were fantastic. "

“I was never really interested in the Pistols as a social phenomenon. I thought I could make a good rock 'n' roll record with them, and for that I thought they were fantastic. "

- Chris Thomas : in Mix Magazine

In addition to Thomas as the producer for the singles, McLaren had also hired sound engineer Bill Price for the production of the album, which by mixing recordings that were actually intended for singles instead of the album on the album resulted in the unique title “Produced by Chris Thomas or Bill Price ”(produced by Chris Thomas or Bill Price) as a contributor.

At the same time he worked on the Wings album Back to the Egg , which was only released in 1979 before he turned to Chrissie Hynde and their The Pretenders . Thomas had met Hynde in 1977 as a background singer on Chris Spedding's album Hurt . In addition to the debut album Pretenders, he also produced the two follow-up albums Pretenders II and, after the separation from Pete Farndon and the death of James Honeyman-Scott, Learning to Crawl . In the 1980s he worked with Reginald Dwight, better known by his stage name Elton John , whom Thomas had already met at the Royal Academy of Music. For John he produced Too Low for Zero and the hits I'm Still Standing and I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues . He also produced the most successful albums ( Listen Like Thieves , Kick and X ) as well as numerous hits for the Australian INXS around Michael Hutchence , including the commercial breakthrough What You Need and the successful singles Need You Tonight , New Sensation , Mystify and Suicide Blonde and shaped their sound.

In the 1990s he produced for Elton John, the single Can You Feel the Love Tonight and the soundtrack for the musical The Lion King ( German : The Lion King ). The song Can You Feel the Love Tonight won an Academy Award for best film song in 1995 and the soundtrack won a Grammy for best music album for children in the same year . For the Britpop band Pulp led by Jarvis Cocker , Thomas produced the album Different Class in 1995 and This is Hardcore three years later .

Discography (selection)

  • 1968: The Beatles , The Beatles (Apple) - Assistant Producer
  • 1969: The Climax Chicago Blues Band , Climax Blues Band (Sire)
  • 1971: Tightly Knit , Climax Blues Band (Sire)
  • 1971: Broken Barricades , Procol Harum (Chrysalis)
  • 1972: Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra , Procol Harum (Chrysalis)
  • 1973: Grand Hotel , Procol Harum (Chrysalis)
  • 1973: The Dark Side of the Moon , Pink Floyd (Capitol) - Mixed by
  • 1973: Paris 1919 , John Cale (reprise)
  • 1973: For Your Pleasure , Roxy Music (Iceland)
  • 1973: Here Come the Warm Jets , Brian Eno (Island) - Mixed by
  • 1973: Stranded , Roxy Music (Iceland)
  • 1974: Badfinger , Badfinger (Warner)
  • 1974: Wish you Were Here , Badfinger (Warner)
  • 1975: Exotic Birds and Fruit , Procol Harum (Chrysalis)
  • 1974: Country Life , Roxy Music (Iceland)
  • 1975: Siren , Roxy Music (Iceland)
  • 1975: One for the Road , Ronnie Lane (Island) - Mixed by
  • 1976: Let's Stick Together , Bryan Ferry (Atlantic)
  • 1977: Hurt , Chris Spedding (RAK)
  • 1977: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols , Sex Pistols (Virgin)
  • 1978: Power in the Darkness , Tom Robinson Band (EMI)
  • 1979: Back to the Egg , Wings (EMI)
  • 1980: Empty Glass , Pete Townshend (Atco)
  • 1980: Pretenders , The Pretenders (Sire)
  • 1981: Pretenders II , The Pretenders (Sire)
  • 1982: All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes , Pete Townshend (Atco)
  • 1983: Too Low for Zero , Elton John (Geffen)
  • 1984: Learning to Crawl , The Pretenders (Sire)
  • 1984: Hysteria , The Human League (Virgin)
  • 1985: White City: A Novel , Pete Townshend (Atco)
  • 1985: Listen Like Thieves , INXS (Atlantic)
  • 1987: Kick , INXS (Atlantic)
  • 1990: X , INXS (Atlantic)
  • 1992: The One , Elton John (Rocket)
  • 1994: Last of the Independents , The Pretenders (Sire)
  • 1994: The Lion King (Soundtrack) (Walt Disney)
  • 1994: Jewel , Marcella Detroit (London)
  • 1995: Different Class , Pulp (Iceland)
  • 1997: The Big Picture , Elton John (Rocket)
  • 1998: This Is Hardcore , Pulp (Iceland)
  • 1999: Run Devil Run , Paul McCartney (Parlophone)
  • 2004: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb , U2 (Iceland)
  • 2006: On an Island , David Gilmour (EMI)
  • 2006: Razorlight , Razorlight (Mercury)
  • 2010: Serotonin , Mystery Jets (Rough Trade)


  • David N. Howard: Sonic Alchemy - Visionary Music Producers and Their Maverick Recordings . Hal Leonard, Milwaukee 2004, ISBN 0-634-05560-7 , Chapter 9: The Quiet Chameleon: Chris Thomas .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. John Tobler, Stuart Grundy: The Record Producers . St. Martin's Press, New York 1982, ISBN 0-312-66593-8 , pp. 228 . Quoted from David N. Howard: Sonic Alchemy - Visionary Music Producers and Their Maverick Recordings . Hal Leonard, Milwaukee 2004, ISBN 0-634-05560-7 , pp. 235 .
  2. ^ Blair Jackson: Chris Thomas: Three Decades on the Cutting Edge and the Charts . In: Mix Magazine . January 1, 1999. Quoted from David N. Howard: Sonic Alchemy - Visionary Music Producers and Their Maverick Recordings . Hal Leonard, Milwaukee 2004, ISBN 0-634-05560-7 , pp. 246 .
  3. Richard Buskin: Classic Tracks: The Sex Pistols: Anarchy in the UK In: September 2004, accessed September 12, 2011 .
  4. Richard Buskin: Classic Tracks: The Pretenders: Back on the Chain Gang. In: September 2005, accessed September 12, 2011 .