Saturday, March 8, 2014

For Eddie

Whether you realize it or not, you know Eddie Mashal very well.  Maybe you didn't meet him in person, but you are very familiar with his work, and maybe never realized it.  With his producer, Bill Szymczyk, Eddie was the primary recording engineer on many great classic rock albums, including Hotel California, and The Long Run by The Eagles, and recorded songs by The Bee Gees, Joe Walsh and Bob Seger, just to name a few.  He was fortunate to win a Grammy Award for his work on Hotel California.  And if you saw The Eagles live in the late 70's or early 80's, Eddie was most likely doing their sound.

But none of that mattered much to him.  He loved teaching most of all, and I'm proud to say, I was one of his students.  I was also fortunate to become friends with him for many years and I was (and still am) very saddened when he suddenly passed away in 2013.  He was one of the most important influences in my life, and other of his students as well, and he was one of my very best friends.

For some reason, the music industry had all but forgotten Eddie, but after all his hard work and efforts over the years, I was eager to see his name on this years Grammy Awards during their In Memoriam segment.  You can imagine how disheartened I was to see, Eddie was again forgotten.  NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) truly dropped the ball by overlooking his talent and contribution to the music industry. 

I wonder, should I have tried to contact them maybe?

Obviously it's too late now, but if I post this, maybe others can discover who he was and how important his work in the music industry was.  Not only for classic rock, but by helping so many young people discover the tricks of the trade and making studio recording so easy to understand from his tutelage.

I posted the following eulogy after his passing, and now I am re-posting on his birthday.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of him, and I still miss him deeply.

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I first met Eddie Mashal in 1989 when I moved to Ft. Lauderdale to go to The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale to study audio recording. There were a lot of very good instructors at AIFL, but when I heard Eddie recorded Hotel California, I was very eager to learn from him and discover all his secrets. Students would often walk by his classes and point and whisper, “That's the guy! He's got Grammy Awards and everything!” Unfortunately, he only taught the advanced audio courses, so I had to wait a few months, till I could officially meet him.

Or so I thought...

My first job in Ft. Lauderdale was at a movie theater. And in 1989, the Michael Keaton / Jack Nicholson Batman movie was released. And there was Eddie on opening night! I was a simple ticket taker, but when I saw him, I very eagerly shook his hand and told him how I couldn't wait to take his class. He smiled really big, the way Eddie always smiled, and I could see the pride he had about meeting another of his students.

He loved teaching! And he always made it so simple. If you asked him a question, he explained audio in such a way, that you felt foolish for not understanding in the first place. He made learning audio fun and interesting. But he was never “Mr. Mashal”. He was Eddie... a guy you got to hang out with and learn things from. He was a friend to all his students, and all his students loved him. And whenever any of his students became successful, he was filled with even more pride that he helped in some way.

But fortunately for me, we had other common ground. Eddie showed me, it's cool to love comic books! I was always collecting comics, but when I moved to Ft Lauderdale, I had no idea where to get them. Eddie showed me his favorite place to go. So every Thursday, Eddie, Brad Button and I, went on a comic book run. Eddie would tell me about some current storyline in Superman or Batman, and convince me to start collecting those issues. We collected comics, cards, and Eddie collected some very impressive comic figures that I could never afford. Those Thursdays were rarely about music or recording. This was all about hanging out, having fun and being friends.

And because we were friends, he would at times, invite me to assist with him on recording sessions. Maybe they were small simple bands, in very basic studios, but the fact that I got to work with THE Eddie Mashal in the studio, was awesome! I was always a bit starstruck with Eddie. I felt like I made it in the business, as I watched him work.

But Eddie was a humble man, and never saw his accomplishments as all that amazing. To Eddie, it was just another day at the office when he recorded Hotel California. It was just another plaque on the wall when he got a Grammy Award. When I met him, he was never too eager to talk about his experiences with The Eagles. This changed a bit later in his life, but in those days, if an Eagles song came on the radio, he would very quickly change the station.

But I do remember one night, he didn't change the station. And he started talking. I felt like he was telling me all the secrets of the universe, as he explained the details that went into the recording of that particular song.

That was one of many wonderful memories I have of Eddie. But there are many more.

Like when he helped me buy a new car. Who better to take car shopping than a Jewish New Yorker? And like how he took me to a Marlins baseball game. I wasn't a sportsfan, but going with Eddie, really made it an enjoyable experience. And how he would tell many of the same stories over and over again, but you would eagerly listen, because Eddie made them fun and like new every time. And the joy he had in his voice when talking about the AESC (Audio Engineers Sushi Club). And how he was eager to tell the tour guide at the Star Trek Exhibit, all the things they didn't know about Star Trek and the actors history. And the pride in his voice when he explained to me a week before his passing, that he and his former producer, Bill Szymczyk, had finally begun talking again after all these years. And of course riding his motorcycle. How many more times could he crash and still be eager to ride again? I felt as if he was invincible, like Superman.

And to me, Eddie will always be Superman. He was my hero, my mentor, my adviser and one of my very best friends.

Click here for a very short list of his studio projects and to see some of his legacy. Not listed are the students he taught and the lives he touched.


We all miss you and love you Eddie! You helped music sound a bit sweeter, and you will live in our hearts forever.

*** UPDATE
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.  I was extremely happy to see on regular rotation in one of the display cases, a very short clip of Eddie, taken from the beginning of the Long Run video from The Eagles.  I am so happy to see, my friend made it to the Hall of Fame.  And knowing Eddie, I think he would be even happier to know, they didn't use Eagles music in his video clip.
Check it out here:
https://youtu.be/epQkBwR5LUg

2 comments:

  1. Nice stuff, thanks. I remember you from the memorial.
    Eddie's friend Rob (since 1955)

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  2. Hi
    I don't know who you are but I met Eddie in 1973 when he had come to FL and was working at a Pantry Pride Grocery store.
    A mutual acquaintance introduced us and he showed up for our first date (my 19th birthday) w/flowers and a brand new car (a green Gremlin) I was working at a JM Fields next store and Eddie's ambition at the time was to become a Dairy Manager. He seldom mentioned his education in Music although he serenaded me nightly w/his guitar. About 5 months later he got a call from Criteria Recording studios and he eventually moved to Miami and I joined him a month later. We were together 5 years and I witnessed 1st hand his transformation from Deli Person to Top recording engineer. His example showed me that you could do anything w/your life and I eventually went back to school and created an interesting career for myself,
    Eddie and I separated in about 1978. He was at the height of his career and there was almost a certainty that he was going to join his boss Bill Szymczyk on The Who's tour of Europe. I believe the Tour was cancelled. We still continued to see each other for the next 2 years. I did not hear of Eddies passing until October 2013 when I accidently ran across it on the internet. I was saddened that I did not get to say goodbye because earlier we had not parted on a good note. Eddie was tops in his field and I love him.

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