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Like Quincy Jones or Phil Spector, Daniel Lanois is one of the few producers whose name on a record means as much as the artist's.
U2, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Robbie Robertson, Bob Dylan - Lanois has produced career-changing albums for all of them. Then there's Neil Young, whose 'Le Noise' - a collaboration with Lanois - is up for three Grammys this year.
Lanois hails from Hull, Quebec, but spent most of his childhood in Hamilton, Ontario - one of four kids of a single mother on the run from an abusive husband. Music runs in his family. Lanois bought his first musical instrument at the age of nine, and by his teens had set up a recording studio in his mom's laundry room.
As a young producer, he helmed records by Martha and the Muffins and Parachute Club. He formed a partnership with producer Brian Eno, and when Eno got tapped to produce U2's The Unforgettable Fire, he brought Lanois along for the ride. U2 was happy with the result and asked Eno and Lanois to produce their massive album The Joshua Tree. That record won a Grammy, as did Time Out of Mind, Lanois's second collaboration with Dylan.
Lanois is a successful musician himself. He's released seven albums, the latest of which, Black Dub, is a sonic exploration of soul, blues and reggae. Plans to tour the record came to a screeching halt last June when Lanois landed in intensive care after a motorcycle crash left him with serious injuries.
Thankfully, he lived to tell the tale in his new memoir 'Soul Mining: A Musical Life'.