Legendary Producer Bill Szymczyk Turns 81

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Bill Szymczyk at his home studio in his “cabin” in Little Switzerland, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains

It’s “The Long Run,” for sure. Legendary producer Bill Szymczyk turned 81 today (Feb. 13, 2024).

Joe Walsh. Rodney Dangerfield. B.B. King. Eagles. The Who. Bob Seger. The J. Geils Band. You can’t go anywhere without hearing the work of the uber-producer. From the cafes of Paris to the rain forests of Costa Rica, his work permeates the globe.

Szymczyk’s exquisite taste and eclectic interests make him an indispensable part of rock history. He produced all the most important Eagles albums from 1974 on, plus The Who’s Face Dances, an underrated-at-the-time album that’s now a classic. He won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year for the single “Hotel California.”

Add in The James Gang, Seger, Walsh, Elvin Bishop, Edgar Winter and dozens more. He revived King’s career with the brilliant idea to add strings on “The Thrill is Gone.”

And don’t forget Johnny Winter and Rick Derringer.

Oops, add in Santana and The Outlaws as well.

If you see him, ask him about his encounters with JFK and Rodney Dangerfield (separately, of course). It’s not a bumbling “right place, right time” Forrest Gump journey; it’s a life of drive, purpose, vision and great taste.

Hotel California alone sold 26 million, with The Long Run doing a “paltry” 8 million in the U.S. alone.

Szymczyk’s work was the soundtrack of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. His work continues to this day, producing labors of love by his son Michael Szymczyk, Brian Vander Ark of The Verve Pipe, and multiple albums by the recently departed Michael Stanley.

Happy birthday, Bill!

Read our exclusive interview with the legendary producer on the making of Hotel California and with Szymczyk and various Eagles members for The Long Run.

Watch a behind-the-scenes clip, with Szymczyk, of the recording of “I Can’t Tell You Why”

Best Classic Bands Staff

8 Comments so far

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  1. kel varnsen
    #1 kel varnsen 13 February, 2023, 02:13

    happy birthday mr. szymczyk! he produced many great albums. i’m a big who fan, but who says face dances is a classic? no they don’t…

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  2. Batchman
    #2 Batchman 13 February, 2023, 13:15

    He was referred to by some as “the vowelless producer.”

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  3. Grasshopper
    #3 Grasshopper 13 February, 2023, 19:41

    Happy Birthday, Bill! Maybe we’ll run into each other here in NC. Would love to talk about your accomplishments

    Reply this comment
  4. Troy
    #4 Troy 13 February, 2023, 23:01

    Crispy – thanks for the loyalty you showed to Michael Stanley over his career.

    Reply this comment
  5. Catherine
    #5 Catherine 16 February, 2023, 21:02

    Would love to have a conversation with you as Michael spoke of you often with me… some great stories as well! ❤️❤️ He cherished your brotherhood and loved your visits to record with him. -Catherine

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  6. Robbie Mac
    #6 Robbie Mac 21 January, 2024, 08:36

    In the late 70’s Bayshore Recording Studios in Coconut Grove was a fertile breeding ground to record and produce music. It was hidden away on the second story of a little motel on Bayshore Drive. Nobody except insiders knew it existed there. Bill Szymczyk produced and made history inside the simple one room studio. I befriended his support engineer, Buddy Thornton who once teched out my MacIntosh stereo receiver in the studio’s workshop. I was fortunate to score one of the coveted “Bayshore Recording Studios” crew shirts and wore it proudly. In 1985 I was doing stage crew work at The Big Orange Festival in downtown Miami. One of the bands we did sound reinforcement for was The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Efrem Towns, the lead singer/trumpet player noticed my Bayshore jersey. He came up to me after the band finished their set and asked me if he could give me a band autographed album in trade for my Bayshore shirt. I thanked him for the album but told him that I wouldn’t be able to secure another shirt as few of them were made. He was a little sad but moved on. As the concert wound up at the end of the day, I walked up to him and gave him the shirt off my back. He was elated to say the least! In 2005 I was living in Hawaii on Maui. The Brass Band came for a concert, of course I went to see them. At the end of the show, I walked up to the stage and called Efrem over. I said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but I did A&R for you guys at The Big Orange Festival in Miami in 1985.” As he was shaking my hand, he looked me in the eye and said, “Yeah, I remember you and I STILL got that shirt!” I was amazed that after 20 years and all of their gigs, he still remembered that shirt! (I had totally forgotten about it)…lol

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  7. Jobi
    #7 Jobi 20 February, 2024, 15:40

    All Are Classics, BUT, My FAVORITE, AND “MOST Underrated of ALL HIS Work Is…”Hurry Sundown”, By The Outlaws…..DAMN FINE !

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