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6 Musicians Who Became Famous Producers: Brian Eno, Dr. Dre, And More

by Joey DeGroot   Jun 17, 2014 18:52 PM EDT

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Plenty of musicians eventually try their hand at producing, since it's pretty hard to record music in a studio without learning a thing or two about production. However, these six artists proved to be such talented producers that they made a second career out of it. Here are six musicians who became famous record producers.

1. Brian Eno

If there were a Mt. Rushmore for art rock pioneers, it would be incomplete without Brian Eno's face. As a member of Roxy Music and as a solo artist, Eno shook up the sonic palette for pop and rock music, and when he began producing albums in the mid-70s, he brought his talents to the works of Devo, Talking Heads, U2, Slowdive, and Coldplay, specializing in dense, atmospheric soundscapes.

2. Steve Albini

Though Steve Albini began engineering records as early as 1981, he first rose to prominence in America's underground punk scene as the vocalist and lead guitarist for Big Black, a brutal noise rock band from Evanston, Illinois that was active from 1981 to 1987. Although highly acclaimed as a musician, Albini has become best known for the albums he's produced for other bands, including the Pixies, PJ Harvey, and Nirvana. His signature sound of violent guitars and raw, hard-hitting drums (recorded solely on tape, never digitally) has made him the go-to producer for bands wanting punk authenticity.

3. Dr. Dre

Calling a rapper a "musician" is already a controversial enough statement for some (old) people, but Dr. Dre can barely even be considered a rapper, since he doesn't even write most of his own lyrics. However, Dre's true talents lie in the studio, producing his albums with N.W.A. and his classic solo debut The Chronic, as well as songs for Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Eminem, and 50 Cent.

4. Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren is a rare artist who has become equally acclaimed for his production work and for his own music. After leaving his band Nazz in 1969, Rundgren became involved in record production, working with bands such as Sparks, The Band, and Badfinger, but even after he became a pop star in his own right with his 1972 album Something/Anything?, he continued producing records for other bands, including classic albums by the New York Dolls, Meat Loaf, and XTC.

5. Butch Vig

Though Butch Vig's band Fire Town signed with Atlantic Records during the '80s, the band never achieved success and eventually split, leading Vig to pursue work in record production instead. Vig's first mainstream production successes came when he produced the Smashing Pumpkin's dense, psychedelic debut album Gish, soon followed by Nirvana's massive Nevermind, which turned him into a highly sought-after producer. Vig would eventually return to music in 1993 when he formed the band Garbage.

6. Phil Spector

Though in recent years Phil Spector has become more famous as a murderer than as a producer, he's arguably the greatest record producer in pop history, having pretty much invented the sound of '60s pop with his Wall of Sound technique. However, Spector first rose to fame in the late '50s as a member of the band the Teddy Bears, whose song "To Know Him Is To Love Him," written by Spector, hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958. After the Teddy Bears split in 1959, however, Spector moved on to record production and has never played in another band.

What other musicians have become famous producers? Let us know in the comments section!

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