Legendary Musician, Engineer and Producer, Chicago icon Danny Leake dies at Age 69
Updated: Jul 11
(click photo for article at Pro Sound News)
Link to obituary: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/6/12/21288183/danny-leake-stevie-wonder-sound-engineer-lane-tech-obituary
It is with monumental sadness that we report that the legendary musician, engineer and producer, Chicago icon Danny Leake died this past week at Age 69.
Statement from Robert Hebert, Legacy and Alchemy CEO
"Well ... There is a lifetime of words to say, and at the same time there are no words to say.
Danny was a dear friend and a respected colleague of thousands of people. And, I think most of us would place him at the top of our list of folk of great skill, achievement and perspective ... who at the same time was a human being of great heart and humility.
I knew Danny for 34 years. Talked to him on Sunday afternoon for 2 hours and 15 minutes, and on Tuesday night, and awoke yesterday (Wednesday) morning on a mission to research my 2010 data files to recollect something he did for me that year. I spent 4 hours going through emails and old HDs ... and was overwhelmed by the recollection of just how much he had stepped up to help me on a project I was working on with 2 young Brazilian singers.
I then sent him this at 3:30pm yesterday:
I just went through my December 2009 and January 2010 emails.
1. Larry Williams did send us his PT session on January 17, 2010.
— You did a ruff mix on January 19 to send to Brazil for Toninho Horta overdubs.
— You got those files back, and did a Mix in late January.
2. I don’t think you had the Dani PT sessions.
— Mitch Forman produced, and I think mixed 6 tracks in Los Angeles in December 2009 and January 2010.
— Dani and her collaborator Elias Almeida produced and mixed the other 4 tracks in São Paulo. I am unsure if they ever sent us those PT sessions.
3. You mixed and mastered both the Patty (14-track?) demo and the Dani (10-track?) demo in very late January 2010.
4. You also had my HD. All the Patty A&R and PT session files of 2009 were on that.
... That is to the best of my refreshed recollection (and email files).
... Danny did all of that for me. And not just that, but also 3 months of A&R in 2009 on those 2 Brazilian singers that led up to it (including he and Fran spending time with one of the singers who flew from Brazil to Chicago, so they could breakdown her vocal technique).
He did it under intense MIDEM timeline pressure, under-compensated, and with the stakes as high as imaginable for me personally, for my company, and for those 2 young Brazilian artists. Only Danny Leake could have done it ... Only a brother would have done it.
— THERE IS A STRAIGHT LINE from that 2009-2010 A&R project with the 2 Brazilian singers to the 2018 “Alexandra Jackson: Legacy & Alchemy” homage to Brazil music / Chicago music.
You see ... Danny would say to me: “Rob, at the end of the day, it’s a vocal project. If she doesn’t sound right, the project isn’t right.”
So, in a “close the loop” ... in January and February 2016 Danny flew to NYC and to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to engineer the vocals on over 20 songs recorded for that Alexandra Jackson album. Danny wanted to leave NO DOUBT on those vocals. He gave us 4 weeks of his precious life assuring that.
— Thank you Danny. YOU got it right.
And that is just a snapshot of only 1 of thousands of projects where this man was at the controls for us. Literally, thousands of us could tell a similar story. That’s quite amazing. I don’t know very many of us mere mortals who leave that kind of legacy.
Danny was a quiet, creative and technical genius; he was a focused, supportive, nurturing teacher and advisor, bringing a wealth of life’s work knowledge and perspective to your session; and, he did so with an un-matched humility, in complete command and control of your project.
I did not know as I was spending those 4 hours yesterday deep in my 2010 email and data files, that Danny already was in heaven ... but, as I sent that 3:30pm text I was marveling anew at the man’s genius, humility and grace, and most of all his wonderful friendship.
“The” Danny Leake was one of the world’s greatest musicians and engineers ever. He was our great brother. Yes, he left us in body, but not in spirit. And, he will live in the hearts and memories of us friends and colleagues forever.
My family and I send our condolences to Fran and the kids. We love you all.
With the deepest appreciation, gratitude and love, I say: “Rest well Danny ... You earned it bro’”