What inspired Steve Marcantonio to become a recording studio engineer?
If you treat each person that you work with as if they are a part of your family, you will always have friends in this business—
For most of us who worked in the professional music recording industry, we can point to the following that inspired us: family members who gave us a connection to the process of making music, legendary recording studio engineers whose work shaped our perception of great music and a passion for listening to great music. For the legendary recording studio engineer, Steve Marcantonio, each of the reasons listed above are an excellent fit when it comes to examining the inspiration for his amazing life and career in popular music.
Before introducing you to Steve Marcantonio— there are two very important aspects of his amazing life and career that help to define the remarkable person that you will meet in this blog post series and in the more in-depth articles that are located on the website. First, he is extremely proud of his Italian heritage. He loves meeting new people and welcoming them into his ever-expanding circle of friends— each of whom he treats as if they are a member of his own family. But, it is also important to note that great music has always been an important facet of his life and too, that it has been there from the beginning. Once you get to know Steve, he will introduce you to another love of his that is also a hallmark of his wonderful family— he loves great Italian food and even more so, to cook it himself just for you. He loves and enjoys making people feel right at home in the recording studio environment. It is a trait that he comes by honestly. His family is quite well-known, not just for their deep interest in music, but also, for both their passion for great food and their generous hospitality. Plus, he is a great storyteller and takes tremendous pride in being from New Jersey (but, he also has a deep appreciation for New York City, where he started his career in music recording, as well).
Steve Marcantonio was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the summer of 1957. His grandfather, who immigrated to America from Naples, Italy carried his immense talent and love for great music with him to his new homeland— quickly becoming an accomplished musician and a leader in a band which played popular music at the dawn of the 20th century. His older brothers were both great musicians. And his cousin, Joey, would later become a member of one of the most popular American bands of the 1960s— Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. As a youngster, he loved listening to the sounds of popular music— big band, swing, country, pop, jazz, blues and of course, the growing sounds of rock and roll on a small transistor radio. I think that it is fair to say that Steve was not just raised to have a love for a specific kind of music, but to have a deep appreciation for music as an art. He listened to every genre of music and developed an awareness of the classic hit songs from rock, pop, country, blues, and jazz. He had great musicians in his family who would influence his life in music and he came of age at a time when popular music was being transformed by the British Invasion of the 1960s and early 1970s.
As I noted above, as he came of age, so did popular music throughout the decade of the 1960s. It is the songs from this period which influenced him as a young man to have the desire to become a recording studio engineer. In fact, Steve put together a fascinating playlist of songs for this project and the series of articles about his life and career. It’s not just a collection of great songs that he has either recorded or mixed, but also, of those that influenced his life and career in music. It is a fascinating and diverse list of songs from Jackie Wilson, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, The Jackson 5, Led Zeppelin, Todd Rundgren and John Lennon (as a solo artist). What I found to be so interesting about each of the songs that he selected was not just that each of them were classic hits, but that each of the songs featured strong vocal performances, notable background harmonies, classic drum sounds and if you looked at his collection in the aggregate— it often featured artists or groups who were in the formative stages of their careers in popular music. In other words, he loved songs that often became the launching points for the careers of some of the greatest acts in the history of popular music. I find this interesting because through his own engineering work, he has quite often helped launch the careers of some of the greatest acts in the history of popular music since the 1980s— particularly in country music.
The story of how Steve Marcantonio became a legendary recording studio engineer is just beginning. At this stage in his life, he was moving from being a young man who loved and deeply appreciated great music to wanting to have the desire to work in the business of recording it. For Steve, that process began, as it has for so many of us who have worked or are working in the professional music recording industry, with him studying the album credits for so many of the great albums that he loved to listen to while coming of age during the 1960s and 1970s. His studies led him to one place where some of the greatest hits in popular music were being recorded at the time. It was The Record Plant in New York City.
In the next blog post, we will explore how Steve was able to land a job at The Record Plant and how through that experience he began the process of taking the first steps on his journey to become a legendary recording studio engineer.
If you would like to read the definitive articles about the remarkable life and career of Steve Marcantonio as a legendary recording studio engineer, you can check them each out at the links below:
Steve Marcantonio: The Legend Behind the Console and the Music
Steve Marcantonio: The Sound of Music
Steve Marcantonio: Working In the Studio With a Legendary Engineer
Steve Marcantonio: A Legacy Beyond the Music
If you would like to listen to the fantastic playlist of music that features both the songs that influenced the work of Steve Marcantonio, plus, a sampling of some of his very best work as a legendary recording studio engineer-- you can access it using the links below:
An Engineering Legend: The Songs of Steve Marcantonio (Spotify)
An Engineering Legend: The Songs of Steve Marcantonio (Apple Music)
An Engineering Legend: The Songs of Steve Marcantonio (YouTube)
In the image below, Steve Marcantonio's grandfather and a grand-uncle are pictured as a members of a band which played popular music in 1910. (Image courtesy of Steve Marcantonio.)
In this second image, a young Steve Marcantonio is pictured with his amazing family-- his Mom and Dad and his two brothers. (Image courtesy of Steve Marcantonio.)