Nick Blagona, a veteran studio engineer who had an extensive career at Le Studio outside of Montreal, has died at the age of 74. Blagona worked with many major artists including the Police, Deep Purple, Rainbow, as well as Canadian veterans April Wine, helping put the Canadian recording studio on the international map.
Blagona started his career in London with Decca Records. At the start, he worked with (among others) Tom Jones the Moody Blues. His career would take him down roads that included Chaka Khan, the Bee Gees, Chicago, Ian Hunter, and Nazareth.
In the 1970s, Le Studio, which was located in Morin Heights, was on the worldwide map. Blagona helped set up the complex with producer Andre Perry in 1974. Almost instantly it became the ‘go-to’ studio for Rush, which helped push its acclaim. As the word spread, David Bowie, Cat Stevens were among the top-draw name that helped Le Studio establish a reputation for high-quality equipment and a laid-back rural environment.
In an interview with the Journal on the Art of Record Production in 2011, Blagona said, “The light that comes on for me every time is the song. If the song is bad, I have a really hard time engineering. I can deal with bad musicians to a point and I can deal with bad singers to a point, but the light only comes on, and it still happens today, when the song is good. That’s what I look for. That’s been the case with most successful recordings.”
Former Ian Gillan guitarist Michael Lee Jackson paid tribute to Blagona in a blog post: “Nick often said to me in the studio that if ‘something is worth doing, it’s worth over-doing,’ a philosophy of his much more nuanced than you could imagine. … But when it came to his own approach to living, that philosophy was certainly dominant, and, as I recently said to Nick, he used his chips up better than anyone I know.”