David Briggs (producer)
David Briggs (February 29, 1944 - November 26, 1995) was an American record producer best known for his work with Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse. He is noted for his eclectic imagination and style, which contributed to the Neil Young album After the Gold Rush.
David Briggs was born in Douglas, Wyoming. Briggs left Wyoming in 1962 to hitchhike his way to Los Angeles and Canada, then finally settled in California, the place he would call home for the rest of his life. In the mid-sixties, Briggs began producing in the music business working on Bill Cosby's label, Tetragrammaton Records. One of the first albums he produced was for comedian Murray Roman. According to Briggs, this was the first album ever released with the word "fuck" on it. Working on Cosby's label led Briggs into doing his own production work with people such as Alice Cooper, Quatrain, Spirit, Nils Lofgren and his band, Grin, and Jerry Lynn Williams.
In 1968, after picking up a hitchhiking Neil Young, Briggs went on to produce the singer/songwriter's first solo album, entitled Neil Young (1968). This led to a lifelong friendship between the two men, with Briggs co-producing over a dozen of Young's albums (see discography below). The most acclaimed work together being Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and After the Gold Rush. Young's Sleeps with Angels album (1994) is the last work that Briggs produced before his death in 1995. Other than producing with Young, Briggs worked on albums with many successful artists such as Spirit, Tom Rush, Nils Lofgren, Steve Young, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Royal Trux.
David had one son, Lincoln, with artist Shannon Forbes in 1969. In 1988, Briggs married Bettina Linnenberg. Bettina would soon be noted as the production coordinator on many of the projects that Briggs produced in the 1990s. These projects included Nick Cave, 13 Engines, Sidewinder, and Royal Trux. She even helped him on projects that would never be released such as work done with John Eddie, Blind Melon, and the Sweet and Low Orchestra.
Death and posthumous projects
David Briggs died on November 26, 1995, after a battle with lung cancer. He was 51 years old. Before his death, he was still working with Joel Bernstein on the Neil Young Archives project. This project had been underway for five years before his death and there could be anywhere from three to twenty albums worth of unreleased material.
David Briggs is remembered as a man who pushed musicians and friends to the very limits of their capabilities and utilized a low-tech, highly emotional and lively approach to "bring out the best" in every artist he worked with. Briggs, an accomplished writer and musician himself, was one of the first producers to take the place of the traditional studio "sound-man" at the recording board and learn to lay down track himself. When he said, "Do it again", they did it again. When he said, "Come listen", they knew there was something worth listening to. He will go down as one of the greatest non-technical rock and roll producers in the industry. His motto was "Never give up the master tapes." His credo was "Be Great Or Begone."
Briggs' work was not universally acclaimed. Neal Smith of the Alice Cooper group later said "David hated our music and us. I recall the term that he used, referring to our music, was 'psychedelic shit'." I think Easy Action sounded too dry, more like a TV or radio commercial and he did not help with song arrangement or positive input in any way." His sessions with Nick Cave were also acrimonious, which led to Cave remixing the album Henry's Dream.
Selective discography as Producer or Co-Producer
- 1968 - Neil Young
- 1969 - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
- 1970 - After the Gold Rush
- 1974 - On the Beach
- 1975 - Tonight's the Night
- 1975 - Zuma
- 1977 - American Stars 'N Bars
- 1978 - Comes a Time
- 1979 - Rust Never Sleeps
- 1979 - Live Rust
- 1981 - Re-ac-tor
- 1982 - Trans
- 1985 - Old Ways
- 1987 - Life
- 1990 - Ragged Glory
- 1991 - Weld
- 1993 - Unplugged
- 1994 - Sleeps with Angels
- 1968 Murray Roman - You Can't beat People Up and Have Them Say "I Love You"
- 1968 Lost and Found - Lost and Found
- 1968 Quatrain - Quatrain
- 1969 Summerhill - Summerhill
- 1970 Alice Cooper - Easy Action
- 1970 Tom Rush - Wrong End of the Rainbow
- 1970 Spirit - Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
- 1971 Nils Lofgren & Grin - Grin
- 1972 Nils Lofgren & Grin - 1+1
- 1972 Spirit - Feedback
- 1975 Nils Lofgren - Nils Lofgren
- 1976 Nils Lofgren - Cry Tough
- 1986 Bradley Ditto - Check Me Out
- 1992 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Henry's Dream
- 1995 Royal Trux - Thank You