Craig Leon is one of the rare producers to have a classical music training. He started out building his own recording studio with the help of his friend Alex Sadkin (a greatly talented engineer that sadly died many years ago) who also worked at Criteria Sound.
Leon moved to New York from Florida in the early 70s taking an A&R role at Sire Records in New York where he was responsible for the discovery and early development of the Ramones and Talking Heads producing the first album for the Ramones.
Craig joined Richard Gottehrer and Marty Thau to set up a production company called Instant Records and projects included the early Blondie records and Suicide. Further productions in the '70s included Martha Velez & The Wailers that he co-produced with Bob Marley and Lee Perry. In the '80s Craig worked with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and The Bangles before Craig relocated to the U.K. for work with Statik Records where he produced Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Flesh For Lulu and others.
Since that time he has been active in both the major and alternative music scenes in the UK with over 40 chart records including Doctor and The Medics, The Pogues, The Go Betweens, The Primitives etc. Craig produced the Blondie comeback album 'No Exit' and worked on the album 'Curse of Blondie'.
Craig Leon: A rare producer who's as at home in the studio as the concert hall
Other notable artists that Craig worked with included The Fall and Jesus Jones. In 1999 Craig became the only producer in UK chart history to have produced a number 1 pop single (Blondie-Maria) and a completely different number 1 classical album (Izzy-Libera Me-Decca) in the same year.
Craig has recently produced a large number of classical projects including Sir James Galway and The London Symphony Orchestra, Joshua Bell and The Academy of St. Martin In The Fields, three number one classical albums with new age/classical artist Izzy. Craig is one of the few all round pop to rock to indie to folk to classical producers and whatever he seems to work on turns to gold!
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Special thanks to everyone at Abbey Road for letting us film this interview in Studio Three and to Craig Leon for agreeing to be featured. Special thanks also to Nigel Jopson of Resolution magazine (visit them for the print version) for his interview and research!