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"The day the earthquake happened was the day I became an independent producer.” Having worked with Joe Walsh when producing the James Gang — which was the first act he signed to ABC — and also on sessions such as those for Indianola Mississippi Seeds, Szymczyk produced Walsh's solo albums Barnstorm and The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get.
The latter, recorded in 1973, included the hit 'Rocky Mountain Way'.
So, it's interesting that the track itself underwent three different versions before emerging in the form that everyone knows.
"The first version we recorded was just a riff,” says Bill Szymczyk, who earned a 'Producer Of The Year' Grammy for his efforts producing and engineering the album.
"I think I ordered it from a comic book — five bucks to build your own radio.
The crystal itself was indiscriminately tuned to whatever channel it was on, and at first nothing came through.
When we recorded it the third time, that was the charm.” A native of Muskegon, Michigan, Szymczyk took an unconventional route to arrive at his chosen profession, starting out not as a musical performer or technician but as a SONAR (SOund Navigation And Ranging) operator for the US Navy.
"I guess I learned by osmosis,” he now remarks, while explaining how a crystal radio he assembled from a kit sparked his interest in blues and R&B.
"By the time I got out of the Navy in February 1964, I had been accepted as a student in communications, television and radio at New York University's Media Arts School.A compilation of singles, Their Greatest Hits (1971‑1975), was issued in February 1976, and the following month, with the hits collection on its way to becoming one of the bestselling albums of all time, work commenced on Hotel California.In addition to its more pronounced rock edge, this record featured a heightened level of musicianship, with the cohesive unit of drummer Don Henley and bass player Randy Meisner backing the powerhouse lead guitars of Don Felder and Joe Walsh alongside Glenn Frey's electric guitar, 12‑string acoustic and keyboards.That was in 1968, and two years later, when they closed down the New York record office, they fired 80 people and moved just two — me and the guy who had hired me — to LA to work for ABC Dunhill.” Szymczyk commenced his working relationship with BB King in New York, producing 1969's Live & Well, as well as the Completely Well album that spawned the blues guitarist's signature song and first major pop‑crossover hit, 'The Thrill Is Gone'.King's 1970 follow‑up, Indianola Mississippi Seeds, was recorded in LA, where Szymczyk continued to work until February of '71, when an earthquake sent him "off the bed onto the floor” and out of LA into Denver.