Gus Dudgeon

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Gus Dudgeon
Born(1942-09-30)30 September 1942
Woking, Surrey, England
Died21 July 2002(2002-07-21) (aged 59)
M4 motorway, Berkshire, England
Occupation(s)Record producer
Years active1962–2002
LabelsDecca, The Rocket Record Company

Angus Boyd "Gus" Dudgeon (30 September 1942 – 21 July 2002) was an English record producer, most notable for production of many of Elton John's most acclaimed recordings.

Early career[edit]

Angus Boyd Dudgeon was born on 30 September 1942 in Woking, Surrey, England. He attended the famous democratic school A. S. Neill's Summerhill School, and regularly attended reunions and actively supported the school.[1] He began work at Decca's studio in West Hampstead, London, as a tea boy, and eventually was promoted to the position of sound engineer. In this capacity, he worked with The Artwoods, Bruce Channel, Davy Graham and Shirley Collins. Early pop successes included The Zombies' single "She's Not There" (1964) and John Mayall's album Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (1966). He helped in the auditions for Tom Jones and The Rolling Stones. Finally he became a co-producer on Ten Years After's debut album in 1967. Around this time he also produced The Bonzo Dog Band albums The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse and Tadpoles.

Dudgeon regularly shopped on Chelsea's Kings' Road in the 1960s, collecting a vibrant set of clothes. He was known to be a flamboyant and sophisticated dresser. Therefore, Dudgeon was ranked highly within British rock music of the late 1960s, not only for the music, but his style.[2]

Dudgeon produced Michael Chapman's first three albums, Rainmaker 1969, Fully Qualified Survivor 1970, and Wrecked Again 1971. Each of these albums features string arrangements by Paul Buckmaster. Dudgeon produced two highly successful albums for Elkie Brooks: Pearls and Pearls II. Pearls peaked at No. 2 in the U.K. and remained in the charts for 79 weeks. He also produced David Bowie's late 1960s songs "Space Oddity"[3] as he really liked the demo of the song and "The Laughing Gnome".

Elton John years[edit]

Dudgeon left Decca and founded his own company. In 1970, Dudgeon began working with Elton John. The first song which they worked together on was "Your Song", on which Dudgeon elaborated on the simple piano tune and added an orchestral arrangement by Paul Buckmaster. The song reached the US Top 10, becoming John's first substantial hit. Dudgeon continued to work with John on his next few albums. Dudgeon was sometimes critical of John's work; for instance, in Elizabeth Rosenthal's book His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John, Dudgeon called the 1974 Caribou album "a piece of crap ... the sound is the worst, the songs are nowhere, the sleeve came out wrong, the lyrics weren't that good, the singing wasn't all there, the playing wasn't great and the production is just plain lousy".[4]

Dudgeon and John, along with Bernie Taupin and Steve Brown, founded The Rocket Record Company in 1973. In 1995 Dudgeon remastered much of Elton's catalogue. Gus was also responsible for the mixing of the 80-plus member Melbourne Symphony Orchestra which toured Australia with Elton John in late 1986. A recording of the final show of the tour was released as the album Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Other work[edit]

In 1972, he produced Whatever's for Us, the debut album of Joan Armatrading, written by Armatrading and her then collaborator Pam Nestor. He also produced two singles for the duo, "Lonely Lady" and "Together in Words And Music" (Cube Records, 7" single, BUG-31) and both tracks were later added to the re-mastered CD issue of the Whatever's For Us album in 2001.[5]

In 1975, he produced Kiki Dee and the Kiki Dee Band's version of "(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am", a song popularised by Nancy Wilson in 1964.

Dudgeon and John parted company in 1979, although they re-united in 1985 to produce three more albums together. Dudgeon worked with a variety of other acts, including Shooting Star, Audience, Chris Rea, Ralph McTell, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Lindisfarne, Joan Armatrading, Elkie Brooks, Fairport Convention, Sam Gopal Dream, The Sinceros, The Beach Boys, Mary Wilson, Solution, Voyager, Steeleye Span and Angie Gold.[6] In the 1980s he built Sol Studios.

After his temporary reunion with Elton John, Dudgeon started working with alternative bands such as XTC, Menswear, and The Frank and Walters. He managed a band called Slinki Malinki. In 1989, Dudgeon produced the debut solo album by Thomas Anders (ex-Modern Talking). The Guinness Book of Records recognised him as the first person to use sampling. His production of John Kongos' hit "He's Gonna Step on You Again" (1971) used a tape loop of African tribal drumming. Dudgeon was also a founder of the Music Producers Guild.

Joan Armatrading dedicated her 2003 album Lovers Speak to Gus Dudgeon and his wife Sheila.

Throughout his career, Dudgeon worked mainly with solo artists and preferred to select artists, engineers and studios himself, allowing him to piece albums together, which gave him the reputation of a Director. He was known and described as being a perfectionist who treated the albums he produced as routines.[2] However, he was still recognised as someone who was calm and patient and liked to stop recording to socialize.[2]


On 21 July 2002, Dudgeon and his wife, Sheila, died when the car he was driving veered off the M4 between Reading and Maidenhead.[7] The inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death, noting that he was intoxicated and had possibly fallen asleep at the wheel while driving well in excess of the speed limit. He and his wife both suffered severe head injuries and were trapped in the car, which landed in a storm drain, and may have drowned.[8] Elton John's 2004 album Peachtree Road was dedicated to the memory of Gus and Sheila Dudgeon.

'The Gus Dudgeon Foundation for the Recording Arts' is an organisation set up by Chris Hook. Lecturer, Jim Barrett from the University of Glamorgan installed Dudgeon's MCI mixing console in ATRiUM building. John Armatrading opened 'The Gus Dudgeon Suite' at the 2009 Art of Record Production Conference, where Elton John, Chris Hook and Phil Harding paid tribute to Dudgeon. A graduate recording course is held every year alongside audio education organisation JAMES, in the name Dudgeon, every summer.[2]


  1. ^ "A belated obituary" (PDF). Summerhilnewsletter Autumn 2010 page 4. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Chapman, Ian; Johnson, Henry (2016). Global Glam and Popular Music: Style and Spectacle from the 1970s to the 2000s. Routledge. p. 66.
  3. ^ "Stories - Elton John". Elton John. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  4. ^ Rosenthal, Elizabeth J. (2001). His song : the musical journey of Elton John (1. publ. ed.). New York: Billboard Books. ISBN 978-0-8230-8893-5.
  5. ^ Mayes, Sean (1990). Joan Armatrading – A Biography (unauthorised). Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-81058-8.
  6. ^ "Angie Gold Biography". Angie Gold official website. Archived from the original on 16 December 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Record producer dies in crash". BBC. 22 July 2002. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  8. ^ Peachey, Paul (8 November 2002). "Elton John producer died drink-driving". The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2017.

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