The Beatles, Bowie – and Ken Scott

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Whenever Ken Scott listens to music, he is reminded of the start of his amazing career as a recording engineer.

The 50-year-old speakers he uses to listen to his vinyl LPs were originally intended for The Beatles – the first band he worked for.

Senior Lecturer Ken Scott one of the prominent recording engineers and producers of the 20th century.

Senior Lecturer Ken Scott one of the prominent recording engineers and producers of the 20th century.

Mr Scott said: “It was 1969, the boys’ label Apple had ordered the speakers for some particular project but they didn’t need them, so I snapped them up.

“I know I sound like a dinosaur, but that’s how you should listen to music, not through earbuds to an MP3 you’ve downloaded.”

Dinosaur or not, Mr Scott knows a thing or two about music. The 72-year-old was at the mixing desk when David Bowie, inset, gave birth to Ziggy Stardust, he was an almost constant presence at Abbey Road when the Fab Four were at their height, and when Elton John first played Rocket Man, he was one of just a handful of people in the 
room.

He has also worked with Pink Floyd and many others.

Something of a legend of the industry, he recently swapped the recording desk for 
academia and as a senior 
lecturer at Leeds School of Arts (LSA), part of Leeds Beckett University, he is now on a mission to put what he describes as “the heart and soul” back in the music business.

“Technology in itself isn’t bad,” he said. “The problem is that we have allowed it take over everything. Now a record label won’t accept an album unless it has been auto-tuned and as a result, a lot of the music which is being churned out sounds robotic.

“Everyone is searching for perfection – they don’t realise that it is the mistakes and those tiny imperfections which make a good album a great album.

“David Bowie and John Lennon would take two weeks to record an album, now it can take two years, if not more. We have lost that sense of immediacy and we need to find a way to get it back.”

Now settled near Harrogate, Mr Scott sets out on a schools roadshow this week.

Beginning with a visit to Batley Girls High School, the aim is to educate the producers of tomorrow about the golden age of recording.

Mr Scott said: “I have been incredibly lucky.

“When I left school, I walked into EMI and my very first duty was on the mixing desk for The Beatles when they were recording the Hard Day’s Night album. They liked to experiment and there was every possibility they would love something you thought you had messed up and hate the version where everything had gone to plan.

“Even now when I walk into the Abbey Road Studios, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“I call it the Sistine Chapel of Rock and it gave me the kind of training which doesn’t exist today. That’s why I want to do this roadshow, it’s about sharing everything I have learnt over the last half-a-century and giving something back.”