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Died On This Date (May 10, 2011) John Carter / Respected Producer and A&R Man

Posted by themusicsover on May 10, 2011

John Carter
June 14, 1945 – May 10, 2011

John Carter
was a successful producer, songwriter, A&R man, and artist manager who due to the respect he garnered, was commonly referred to as simply, Carter.  His earliest success came in 1967 when “Incense and Peppermints,” a song he co-wrote, became a hit for the Strawberry Alarm Clock.  He in fact also came up with the band’s name by putting together random words he found on the singles chart.  He was soon hired by Atlantic Records where he worked in promotion, and eventually went to work at Capitol Records where he produced numerous hit albums by the likes of Sammy Hagar, Bob Seger, the Steve Miller Band, Bob Welch, and the Motels, to name just a few.  In 1983, he made perhaps his biggest mark on pop music by A&Ring Tina Turner’s landmark album, Private Dancer, which sold over 20 million copies, collected numerous Grammy’s and made the singer relevant again.  In later years he held high positions at Chrysalis, A&M, Atlantic, and Island Records.  John Carter died of cancer on May 10, 2011.  He was 65.

Thanks to Bruce Kilgour for the assist.

6 Responses to “Died On This Date (May 10, 2011) John Carter / Respected Producer and A&R Man”

  1. Tom (TA) Anderson said

    CARTER. What can I say? What can ANYONE say?
    Loved ya, man. You were a wonderful crazy and made all of us laugh. Remember when you tossed thousands of Randy Newman “stamps” off the top of KSAN’s building in San Francisco … made a huge gooey mess on the streets below, but “the word” got out! Lotus Europa with the personalized plate “J Geils” .. who else, but Carter? Yelled out my moniker “TA” when I was setting up the Stones at the Cow Palace … man, was I embarrassed!! Took me forever to figure out who that voice in the crowd was … Carter!
    Met you through my lifelong friend, Michael Kilmartin, another wonderful crazy, who has also left us. They don’t make ‘em like you guys any more. It was my joy and privelege to know and work with you, John. Keep on rockin’.

  2. Jeff Jourard said

    Carter tended to speak and email in terse, postcard-English style minimal sentences; all content, no filler.
    Pretty much everybody knew he had a first name, but nobody used it, he was Carter to one and all.
    He was born in 1946 in East St Louis, Illinois.

  3. Al Harlow said

    I believe Carter’s birthday was June 14, 1945. I had the privilege of working with him over a year-and-a-half period in ’80 – ’81, when he was a staff producer for Capitol-EMI Los Angeles. Bruce Fairbairn had left Prism, recently signed to Capitol, so they sent their man up to Vancouver to sort us out for a new album. But instead of a staff cop, Carter stepped off the plane and handed us a copy of the latest Talking Heads album with, “Check this out, man. Very cool.” Instantly we were all kids in the basement, enthusing about records and bands.

    We made our album “Small Change” at Sunset Sound in LA. Carter would enter the studio in Hawaiian shirt and shades with, “Let’s make a raackord!” like a Kim Fowley or Shadow Morton. Carter didn’t “go Hollywood” – he had fun with it.

    Bobby Colomby would come down from the round tower to ensure we were behaving. Carter described his role as “Prod” by stating, “We’re all playing a hand here, but I’m holding the aces.” He called himself “Mr Demo”, pulling endless cassettes of song submissions from his pockets, like Harpo Marx’s stolen flatware. Demos of friends like Davitt Sigerson made fans of us all. Session extras were all Carter’s friends: Norton Buffalo, Randy Hansen, Shirley Matthews (“she was an Orlon, man!”) all became kids in Carter’s basement. It was a great hang. Sammy Hagar would show up late at night, and the session would move to the lounge. Carter constantly re-wrote lyrics, even during vocal takes. “I read about your blues. Got it? Red…”

    I moved into his home for a month, the historic Samuel-Novarro house built by Lloyd Wright in the Hollywood hills. But his heart was down on the street. It was always the music and artist.
    In early ’82, after the album was done and we’d all gone home, my phone rang. Carter’s voice said, “We did what we said we were gonna do. We’re on the radio.” He offered to take me under his wing, help me get production gigs in LA. I was torn, preparing to tour with a new album; I let the offer slide & now wish I hadn’t. What a great mentor he was.
    Some took his deadpan manner as dour. But Carter was the hipster, the perennial teenager with the company keys. He once called himself a “professional fan” (of music). Well stated, Carter. Lord rest his soul.
    - Al Harlow

    • themusicsover.com said

      Thank you so much for leaving your kind words about Carter, Al. He sounds like he was a wonderful man and I’m honored to have him on my site!
      Vince

      • Al Harlow said

        Great, Vince; thank you.
        Many are grieving Carter’s passing – Lefsetz sent out two whole day’s worth of tributes that poured in. The public is aware of great behind-the-scene record men like David Foster, Phil Spector, Clive Davis, George Martin. Carter belongs there; he IS there, and won’t be forgotten. Someone should write a book about his amazing life. Thanks for being part of this. – Al Harlow

  4. Richard Landis said

    I had the office next to Carter for several years, @ Capitol. It was a great learning experience spending time with him. My 15 minute rants to him would be responded to by 6 or 8 syllable insightful, hysterically funny, profound pearls of wisdom. He was simply the coolest guy I’ve ever met.
    His memorial, held at The Roxy, was testimony to the love and respect felt for him. At the end of the video tribute, which included Tina Turner, Sammy Haggar, Steve Miller, Martha Davis (The Motels), Paula Cole, and others, the attendees were crying, laughing, hugging, and celebrating an incredible life.

    Recovering from this loss will take a lifetime. RIP, Carter!!!

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