Meeting Topic: "Life on the Road" — A Layman's Venture into the World of Sound
Speaker Name: Dinky Dawson
Meeting Location: Devlin Hall - Boston College
Boston AES Meeting
On April 12, 2011, the Boston Section of the Audio Engineering Society held their monthly event featuring Live Sound pioneer, Dinky Dawson, who gave a presentation entitled "Life on the Road" — A Layman's Venture into the World of Sound.
Dinky described how the origins of the Live Sound industry began and reminded those in attendance how the early sound systems had to be built from the ground up and that there were no standard connectors. He gave an overview of the equipment used and how the systems continued to evolve; Monitors, Long Throw Horns and Line Arrays. He played examples of shows from early Fleetwood Mac, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Steely Dan as evidence of the clarity that was achieved from that era.
Born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England, Dawson's life has been dedicated to music and his accomplishments in the field of live rock and roll are legendary. As a youth, he participated as a singer in operas and musical offerings in amateur groups, and, when the phenomenon of rock and roll affected British teens, Dawson became a disk jockey, spinning records in clubs throughout England and Germany. Realizing the importance of technical production in this new music, he modified the band's equipment and became Fleetwood Mac's tour manager and sound engineer for their European and American tours, concerts, radio and TV shows. He designed, maintained and operated the Mac's sound system, which was one of the first sophisticated setups to be used consistently by a touring band and was the first live engineer to mix from the audience. He worked with them in the studio as a sound consultant for their albums English Rose, Then play on, Kiln House, and Chicago. Simultaneously, Dawson worked with Charlie Watkins, Watkins Electric Music (WEM), London England, on design and operation of WEM equipment, which was used by all British groups of the sixties era (e.g., Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix).
He immigrated to America as sound engineer for The Byrds and designed, maintained and operated their sound system. He continued working in the studio on their Byrdmaniax and Farther Along albums. In the early seventies, he founded Dawson Sound Company based on a revolutionary acoustic suspension sound system, the first of its kind. Dawson Sound was the sound reinforcement company of the seventies, with Dawson's technical expertise and talent evident on tours with the Kinks, Joan Baez, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, J. Geils Band, Warren Zevon, Orleans, and Ambrosia, among others. It was the first sound company to tour the USSR on State Department sponsored appearances with B.B. King. His legendary live mixing capabilities can be heard on numerous live albums, including Mahavishnu Orchestra's Between Nothingness and Eternity, Lou Reed's Rock and Roll Animal, and Joan Baez From Every Stage, and J. Geils Band Live. Steely Dan was so taken by his work that Becker and Fagan released a single, Bodhisattava, which was mastered from a cassette made by Dawson at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. During this time, he continued his studio work as sound consultant on Lou Reed's Berlin, Steely Dan's Katy Lied, Royal Scam, Aja and Greatest Hits.
Written By: Tony Schultz