From The Seattle PI:
To people outside the music world, Kearney Barton isn’t especially well known. But the artists recorded in his Seattle studios certainly are.
Barton was an engineer for Quincy Jones, Ann Wilson, Bonnie Guitar, and garage rock icons The Sonics. He recorded the The Wailers, The Kingsmen, The Frantics, The Ventures, Little Bill, Stan Boreson, and thousands more.
In 1959, he was an engineer for the Fleetwood’s “Mr. Blue” – one of less than a half-dozen songs by Seattle-area artists to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“He created a sound that is still reverberating today,” said Matt Sullivan, Light In The Attic Records founder. “In a lot of ways he was the godfather of the Northwest sound.”
That godfather died Tuesday after an illness. He was 80.
Barton and others – including Joe Boles of Seattle, Wiley Griffith of Tacoma and Lyle Thompson of Commercial Recorders – were top engineers who helped form Seattle’s sound before the early ‘90s grunge era. And Barton’s collection of tapes showed his range: jazz to classical, grunge to bluegrass, high school bands to radio jingles.
“I don’t think the significance of his contribution had really spread around the world as it did in the last decade or so with Norton Records of New York,” music historian Peter Blecha said.
The record label specializing in loud rock and roll tracks through 1966 reissued several recordings made in Barton’s studios and described him as an engineering genius. Barton’s recordings of early Seattle rock bands were better received than his recordings of folk rock and psychedelic sounds in the late 1960s, making him a perfect fit for Norton, Blecha said.
Sonics tracks that Barton recorded have influenced Pearl Jam and E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, among others, and the Norton-led resurgence helped lead to a Sonics reunion show at the Paramount in Oct. 2008.
Continue reading at The Seattle PI …