Remembering Producer Martin Rushent: Gone To The “Mixing Desk In The Sky…”

One more classic figure of music passed away this weekend, Martin Rushent died at 63 on Saturday. Rushent was the man at the mixing desk for landmark albums by The Stranglers, The Human League, XTC, 999, Generation X, Altered Images, The Go-Go’s and even Fleetwood Mac.

Before I make a plate of select platters produced and or engineered by the studio maven, a bit of biographical information.  His career began, arguably, when he got to cut a demo with his own band down the EMI Studios in Manchester Square, London. Then, after noodling around with 4-track machine and studying for various fall-back careers, he followed his bliss into Advision Studios and eventually scored a great job as a tape operator for producer Tony Visconti, which got him into the room with  T-Rex, Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and even a UK session with Jerry Lee Lewis.

Later, Rushent was hired by United Artists, where he worked with Martin Davies, and worked on records with The Buzzcocks, and signed The Stranglers as his own project. Rushent produced Stranglers’ albums, Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes and Black And White.

Martin Rushent in 1985 print ad for Korg sequencer.

After that, Rushent became a synth-pop trailblazer, working on ex-Buzzcocks singer Pete Shelley‘s Homosapien sessions, and the success of these Linn Drum flavoured tracks was noted by the revamped Human League, who relied on him to guide them into their International breakthrough album Dare (1981). Even 30 years later, “Don’t You Want Me Baby” is as memorable a song as any in rock’s rich history.

After decades away from the mixing console, Rushent started making records again in the 2000’s and worked on albums by The Pipettes, Killa Kela, Hazel O’Connor and his son’s band Does It Offend You, Yeah? Apparently when he died, this Saturday, he was busying himself with a 30th anniversary remake of  Human League’s Dare, featuring non-synth instruments.

On the Shapers of the 80s blog, Stranglers’ Hugh Cornwell is quoted:

“It is with great sadness that I hear of Martin Rushent’s passing. He was a vibrant and gifted individual who was able to extract the essence of what The Stranglers began with, and translate it into something that could be played on radios across the UK. It was obviously no one-off success, as he was later to show with The Human League. I remember him fondly. ”

A statement from his son James’s band Does It Offend You, Yeah?, ended with “Rest in peace, sitting at your mixing desk in the sky.”

Rushent is survived by his wife Ceri, sons James and Tim and daughters Amy and Joanne.

A MARTIN RUSHENT SAMPLER: By no means a complete discography, but a few highlights I put together for ya!

The Buzzcocks: “Orgasm Addict”

XTC: “Are You Receiving Me?”

The Stranglers: “(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)”

999: “Homicide”

Human League “Sound Of The Crowd”

Pete Shelley: “Homosapien”

Human League: “Don’t You Want Me?”

Leisure Process: “Love Cascade”

Dr. Feelgood: “Every Kind Of Vice”

Ian Gomm: “Hold On” (often mis-credited to Nick Lowe)

Altered Images: “Happy Birthday”

The Associates: “Waiting For The Love Boat”

READ UP ON MARTIN RUSHENT: Here’s a great article from Sound On Sound magazine

2 Responses to “Remembering Producer Martin Rushent: Gone To The “Mixing Desk In The Sky…””

  1. The Stranglers’ Black and White album was one of those musical life changing albums for me. The mix Martin got with JJ and Jet caused fibrillation in my heart and synapse firing in my brain. One of the great ones. RIP.

  2. John McGowan Says:

    He Engineered to my mind, the best Groundhogs album that being “Hogwash”(1972) and inspired Tony McPhee to build his own studio. He is definitely up with the greats like George Chikiantz and Martin Birch

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