Johnnie Burns The Unsung Hero
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Who was John Burns? I saw his name on the early Genesis albums but quite frankly I never gave the production of this album much thought beyond the music.  It was very difficult to do research into what instruments Genesis used to record this album beyond the obvious.  Did Steve use different guitars for different songs, how did Mike get his Fuzz Bass sound, etc.  After this information
started to reveal itself and I was able to start and acquire the samples and/or instruments that they used and tried to recreate the songs on the album, there was something missing.  The missing something was the magic, not only from the performances but in the way that these performances were captured and mixed on the album.


This realization led to me to more research on exactly who sat beyond the desk during these sessions and it turned out to be Joh
n Burns. Johnnie worked with Genesis starting with Foxtrot as an engineer and became producer/engineer on Selling England and his stint ended with The Lamb (the first LIVE album was also worked by Johnnie). After Peter left, Genesis wanted a new start with a new engineer for Trick of the Tale.


Genesis started working on The Lamb in the late spring of 1974. The entire band spent weeks living together in Headley Grange (of Led Zeppelin fame) to rehearse and write the music for The Lamb.  The time spent at Headley Grange wasn’t exactly “high living”. The facility was very old, trashed and as Phil tells it, the Rats had better accommodations then they did while staying there. But the time spent at this old facility was very productive and the music was writing itself.  Quickly, Genesis found that they had enough good material to make a double album (which was all the rage of the day by all the “GREAT” bands).


So, the decision was made to record this album remotely in a smallish studio up in Wales farmhouse using the Island Mobile recording truck.  There isn’t much information on these tracking sessions and even fewer photographs of these sessions but it was here that Genesis were
recording the music in the main room while Peter was upstairs quickly trying to write the lyrics to all the material.  But, again, this part of the project went quickly smoothly and after these tracking sessions were completed in about three weeks, it was back down to London and Basing Street studios to do the overdubs, vocals and final mixdown of the album.  Luckily, there is more information available about the Basing Street studios and its connection to Johnnie Burns and Genesis.


Research on Johnnie Burns turned up some very interesting information.  Johnnie started in the business as a musician and starting hanging around the studios in the London scene.  One of the happening studios, Morgan Studios, is where Johnnie got his start at being behind the glass. At 15 years of age, Johnnie played in a band with Andy Johns, younger brother of Glyn Johns, and Andy got him his first job at Morgan Studios as a tape operator in 1968.


As an assistant engineer at Morgan, Burns worked on albums by Blind Faith, King Crimson, David Bowie, Donovan, Blodwyn Pig, Spooky Tooth, Free, Humble Pie and many other classic rock acts of the 60s mostly doing work for Island Records.  He migrated over to live sound and worked the famous Isle of Wight concert in 1969, toured with Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Johnny Winter, Jethro Tull, Procal Harem, Clouds, Steel Eye Span and Tear Na Nog .  After many months on the road touring with Tull as their personal engineer and the other support bands, Johnnie returned to the studio with Tull to engineer their breakthrough album, Aqualung.