John Hampton, the acclaimed engineer and producer who worked with Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughn, the White Stripes and the Replacements, died last night after a battle with cancer. He was 61 years old.
According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Hampton worked at the famous Ardent Studios for nearly decades, and was inspired to do so by one of rock’s biggest bands. “I was a big Led Zeppelin fan and when Zeppelin’s third record came out, on the back it said ‘Mixed at Ardent Studios – Memphis, Tennessee,’” he explained in a 2007 interview with the paper. “I kind of made up my mind at that point: I want to work at that place.”
He was hired by the studio in 1977, and worked his way up the ranks, eventually becoming a part-owner. His highly impressive resume — seriously, check this out — including Grammy-winning work with two Jack White-led bands, the White Stripes and the Raconteurs. “Jack, without even knowing it … made me remember the way we used to work it when I first started,” Hampton explained. “Working with analog tape and eight tracks, doesn’t leave you a lot of options, so you got to commit on the spot.”
Hampton also mixed three George Thorogood albums, engineered Alex Chilton’s ‘Like Flies on Sherbert,’ the Vaughan Brothers’ 1990 album ‘Family Style,’ and the Replacements’ 1987 classic ‘Pleased to Meet Me.’
His biggest commercial success came when he produced the Gin Blossoms’ 1992 multi-platinum debut album ‘New Miserable Experience.’ The band’s lead singer, Robin Wilson, praised Hampton’s “ability to deal with the personalities involved in a band and the pressures of the studio and get the best out of you.”