|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (March 2009)|
Alex Sadkin (Florida 1949 - 25 July 1987) is best remembered as a record producer in the early 1980s, but actually got his start in the music industry as a saxophonist for the Las Olas Brass in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Sadkin grew up in Fort Lauderdale across the street from Bennett Elementary School, and played saxophone in Sunrise Junior High School and Fort Lauderdale High School. Alex attented the University of Miami in Coral Gables for his freshman year of college as a biology major. He attended Florida State University in Tallahassee where he played bass guitar with childhood friends Lyle LaBarbera (rhythm guitar) and Jim Hendee (drums), and singer Phil Turk. He eventually received his Bachelor of Science degree in geology in 1971.
After graduation, Sadkin worked with Jim Hendee at a sea turtle farm called Mariculture, Ltd. on Grand Cayman Island, where they both lived on Seven Mile Beach, a few miles from the town of Hell. During their six months of living and SCUBA diving there, they got their first taste of playing reggae at several clubs around the island.
When Sadkin returned to South Florida he began his recording career. He was first trained as a mastering engineer but eventually moved into recording studio work as a "tape-op" (Assistant Engineer) at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida. He got his first big break after impressing Neil Young with his mixing ability, and he eventually became head engineer at Compass Point Studio in Nassau, Bahamas. He worked alongside Island Records boss Chris Blackwell on many of the label's projects, most famously with Bob Marley & The Wailers, including the seminal Rastaman Vibration.
A full member of the Compass Point All Stars from day one, he began producing artists for Island Records (Grace Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker), while doing mixing work for other labels (Talking Heads). Among the other artists he produced in the 1980s are James Brown, the J. Geils Band, Thompson Twins, Classix Nouveaux, Foreigner, Duran Duran, Simply Red, Arcadia and Paul Haig.
Alex Sadkin was a mentor to engineer and producer Phil Thornalley, who would go on to work with The Cure, Johnny Hates Jazz, and Natalie Imbruglia. He had a special gift of being able to sense and analyze an artist's inner creative abilities and talents, even if the artist couldn't. Composer-keyboardist Wally Badarou had this to say about Sadkin: "His dedication to maintain genuine 'mixes in progress' from the word go, was a great lesson. I made it a system for my subsequent production from then on."
Sadkin died in a motor accident in Nassau at the age of 38, shortly after completing production work on Boom Crash Opera's eponymous 1987 album, and just before he was due to begin working with Ziggy Marley. The Duran Duran song "Do You Believe In Shame", Robbie Nevil's "Gone Too Soon" and Grace Jones' "Well Well Well" are dedicated to his memory. Also Joe Cocker's album Unchain My Heart (1987) is dedicated to the memory of Alex Sadkin.
Selected production credits
- Bob Marley and The Wailers – Survival (1979)
- Grace Jones – Warm Leatherette (1980)
- Grace Jones – Nightclubbing (1981)
- Grace Jones – Living My Life (1982)
- Joe Cocker – Sheffield Steel (1982)
- Thompson Twins – Quick Step and Side Kick (1983)
- Thompson Twins – Into the Gap (1984)
- Duran Duran – Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983)
- Paul Haig (ex-Josef K) – Rhythm Of Life (1983)
- Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues (1983) [mixing only]
- Foreigner – Agent Provocateur (1984)
- Arcadia – So Red The Rose (1985)
- Robbie Nevil – Robbie Nevil (1986)
- Boom Crash Opera – Boom Crash Opera (1987)
- Simply Red – Men and Women (1987)
- Wally Badarou's official website on Grace Jones' "Private Life" ("Warm Leatherette" album / Island-Universal)