January 19, 2011


Filed under: — George Petersen @ 2:02 pm

Roger Nichols
By George Petersen
ONE OF THE GREAT ENGINEERS OF ALL TIME, Roger Nichols, needs your help. And he’s not looking for an assistant engineer or someone to help dust his Grammy Awards. Roger quite literally is fighting for his life.
PHOTO: Roger showing his pool mix technique. (Image courtesy Deborah Gray Mitchell)
Last summer, Roger was diagnosed with Phase 4 Pancreatic cancer. Although quite serious, many of those afflicted survive for years with proper treatment. Unfortunately, the medical costs and bills have devastated the Nichols family, leaving them nearly bankrupt, making any chance of Roger taking part in some promising new treatments nearly impossible.
Once upon a time, Roger Nichols turned his back on a lucrative career as a nuclear engineer, turning audio knobs instead, and the world’s been a better-sounding place ever since. From his decades of work with Steely Dan, John Denver and other artists, Roger proved his production prowess while stretching the limits of technology. When the available gear couldn’t do the job, he’d invent solutions, such as the 1978 Wendel sampling drum computer (the first drum replacement device) or the Rane PaqRat, which transformed a lowly ADAT or DA-88 recorder into a 24-bit mastering deck. And if that wasn’t enough, his Digital Atomics company developed a vacuum desiccation system for tape restoration that offered an alternative to tape baking. Over the years, tracks Roger engineered (such as Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly) became established as standards for speaker demos in audio showrooms and AES booths—in either case, some pretty tough customers.
On a personal note, Roger was always a caring and giving person, whether serving on NARAS boards, or volunteering his time to lecture to college students and AES sections. In fact, I once convinced Roger into spending a week with me doing production seminars for the audio community in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That was a little off the beaten track, but Roger was quick to give up his valuable time for the benefit of others. Between his amazing legacy of recorded work (Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, John Denver, Rickie Lee Jones, Take 6, Johnny Winter, Placido Domingo, Roseanne Cash, The Beach Boys and so many more) and his benevolence in helping others, he has given so much to our industry.
Now it’s time we helped HIM out.
>>>You can donate to help Roger via PAYPAL. Any amount, large or small, is appreciated and will make a difference. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
And please pass this link to as many people as possible. Thanks!

George Petersen is an independent journalist/author/producer. Visit him on Facebook or at www.audioinfosource.com.

What do YOU think?


  1. Gregg Bowman:

    I am Roger’s Canadian business partner and I have personally known Rog for 7 years now. He was my recording engineer hero way back when I was fourteen growing up on Vancouver Island, BC. Rog has a heart of gold and is one of the most selfless individuals I have ever had the pleasure to know. Rog, Connie and the girls need our help NOW!! Please let’s not disappoint them!!!
    blessings….Gregg Bowman

  2. Gary Myrick:

    Please have Rogers family, friend or rep contact the Grammys “Music Cares” and The Actors Fund( all entertainment related help(he qualifies) they both helped me during my resent Prostate Cancer surgery and bills.they do care and can help.God Bless Roger.sincerely Gary Myrick

  3. John Neff:

    I worked with Roger on Donald Fagen’s “Kamakiriad” album, which we recorded between the studio I built in Maui with Walter Becker, and River Sound, which was Donald’s studio in Manhattan, and Walter’s solo album “Eleven Tracks of Whack”. As well, I supplied equipment and assistance to him on the China Crisis album, recorded at George Benson’s Lahaina Sound in Maui, and I never met a person with a greater encyclopedic knowledge of not only all things audio, but of so many things in the world. He loved to photograph Le Mans racing cars, flew radio control airplanes off of the Loyola Marymount bluff in West LA, and so much more. There literally never will be another Roger Nichols. He is a warm, loving human being, with a wry and dry sense of humor. I once said in an EQ magazine interview, in which the interviewer asked me, “What was the greatest secret you learned from working with Roger Nichols?” And I made a rather flip answer, not ungrounded, that said the greatest thing I learned from Roger was how to cram an incredible amount of food into your mouth in the 30 seconds between takes.
    Godspeed and Good Luck Roger. We love you and respect you. I remember the lunch we shared when you and Simpcy were here in SF a couple of years ago.
    Please, people, help him out.
    Roger is an irreplaceable resource and someone we all need in the world.
    He never had an arrogant attitude when someone asked him a technical question, no matter how basic it was.

    Thank you for your support.

    John Neff
    Nightforest Studios
    Marin County, CA

  4. lisa langrell:

    We dont know this man but saw this on a link from a friend in the industry. My husband has got to be one of the biggest fans of Steely Dan (and he’s a 49 yr old stagehand from DC). Regardless, anything to help a person in need–we don’t have a lot but will donate–as one human being with a family to another–we all should pay it forward. This country has to do more to permit people to be treated peacefully and not be turned away because they have run out of money and not drown in debt. My mother has cancer and is in remission. This is a horrible disease with no cure and medical bills that never seem to stop-except when you don’t have anything left to pay them with. May god bless this man and his family. My heart swells of emotion for him. Speedy recovery.

  5. Castle Deutschendorf Byrd:

    Roger and his family are some of the best friends anyone could have; his musical genius is just a bonus! We love you Roger and hope that everyone out there is as generous with their donations as you have been with your kindness and intelligence. Love and good vibes from the Deutschendorf’s.

  6. Moogie Canazio:

    I just donated, not much , but I’m sure that little by little, it will make a diference.
    But if I had the resources, and maybe someone out there does, I would contact all of the incredible artists and talents and suggest to them a benefit concert to raise proper funds for Roger.
    After all, he with his incredible touch has really helped hem all.

  7. Kevin:

    Please tell me the status of Roger Nichols Digital? Can we help the family by making a purchase or only paypal donations?


    REPLY FROM GEORGE: While developed by Roger himself, the Roger Nichols Digital plug-ins no longer have anything to do with Roger Nichols, and he no longer has any business association with those products (it’s a long, long story). So to answer your question, “No, buying a RN Digital plug-in or product will do nothing to help Roger’s situation.” If you want to help, a direct donation to Roger via Paypal (of any amount) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your support of this great man and wonderful human being.

  8. Jaron:

    Unfortunately great talent doesn’t save us from tragedy, something any fan of music knows all too well. Let’s hope for a full recovery…

  9. matthew:

    I met Roger back at Sigma Sound during the Gaucho recordings and we became as he has for many of us a friend. I’ve moved on from kid studio rat and have had a fun career in tech, but have also had a studio at home seemingly forever. It’s a rare person that can be at the top of their skills and still be willing to teach the “youngins” and do so with humor energy and desire to make better out of everything they touch. Thats my imutable impression of Roger and I personally wish him strength and a bit of luck in his fight. Hey Roger, we love you out here. You’re in my thoughts and my heart and I encourage everyone to give what you can. I did and it’s not enough. All of us who listened to Aja and said “WTF, jeez that sounds amazing” or listened to it prior to a mix session as “reference” needs to support this man. Thx Roger and fight like a crazy man.

  10. morst:

    I’ve been a fan of Roger’s work since I first heard it, and a fan of his writing since his column in EQ. Once a gear slut, always a gear slut! I don’t have a ton of dough, but I made sure to chip in a few $$ for Roger and his family, to help ‘em through. His writing and his outlook has given me so much, and I was just thinking “wonder what’s up with Roger, he must be doing something great!?”

    Hang in there Roger, we’re with ya!!

  11. Pete Kipley:

    Pulling for you Roger!
    You have been an inspiration to so many of us. Get well soon!!!

  12. Eamon:

    I met Mr. Nichols at a seminar in Maryland when digital mixers were just coming into their own.
    I walked up and asked a question. Half way through my question, I realized how stupid it was, and I was making an idiot of myself.
    Without the slightest bit of annoyance, he backed me up, made sense out of my stupid question and explained everything I needed to know for the next several years.
    He would certainly not remember me, but I will always remember that.
    We are going to donate as much as we can.

    Do the same.

  13. Ted Colanduno:

    I met Roger in August, ’07, at a Pro Media Pro Tools Certification course in NYC. Along with friends Alain Perron a Canadien Composer and Trevor Gibson, of Circle Studios, Birmingham, England, Roger hung out with us in between sessions and demonstrated his expertise in tracking and mixing through the Steely Dan tracks that he brought along. A true giant in the industry, and a warm, sharing human being, I wish him all the best in his battles that lie ahead. A two-year cancer survivor myself, I can attest to the healing power that music posesses. Listen to as much as you find beautiful, and just know that you have a lot of support out there pulling for you. Rock on Roger, in your quest for better health.

  14. Peter Moshay:

    I pray for your recovery and comfort for you and your family.
    Don’t give up, we need you around here, many of us have not had the chance to meet you yet, and you still need to inspire & teach.

    You can do it! You’ve found snare sounds that must have been almost as hard as this. We’ll be praying for your speedy recovery and donating too.
    All the best,

  15. Glenn Meadows:

    I’ve known Roger for many years, especially when he, Connie and the family lived in the Nashville area. We did lots of work together. Roger used Masterfonics studios for many of his projects, including demos of the Wendel Jr. drum replacement system, all the way up to mixing (and vocal overdubs) on a late John Denver album in the Mix Room. I subsequently mastered that album for him.

    He was also responsible for getting me the mastering work on Donald Fagan’s NY Rock & Soul Review album. The biggest project he dropped in my lap though was the huge box of all the original mixes/master of the entire Steely Dan catalog for the first full re-mastering of those albums since the days of the original transfers/mastering for initial CD release that happened in the early 80′s. That resulted in re-mastering of all of the albums, and then the assembly into the Citizen Steely Dan boxed set (4 CD set).

    Roger, we all in the industry are praying for your recovery.

  16. John Gamble:

    I’ve never had the good fortune to personally meet the TRULY great Roger Nichols, but have had the opportunity to work at River Sound on a variety of projects…if you’re reading this story please step up and help Roger in his battle…for all the beauty and joy he has been so instrumental in bringing us we must give back something in return, whatever we can. My positive prayers and thoughts are with you Roger

  17. Carol Lombard Clark:

    Roger there is no one in this world who can make me laugh like you; especially when the chips were down. I am praying and hoping for a miracle and I am sure that God is listening to all our prayers. I hope to see you soon and just know that your tops in my book. Love and Bless You Always, Carol

  18. Paul Van Dyke:

    First found Rodger in EQ Mag many years ago … always found his words & out look on all things be be one that found a place in my mind & heart. There is a quote that I came across by Maya Angelou (American Poet born 1928) “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.? You have made me feel good about my recording career, made me laugh & most importantly – think … Thank you. Hopefully some of those big stars will send some left over royalties …
    To Rodger
    Paul Van Dyke, Cool Bananas Sound & Video. Sydney Australia.

  19. Marko Hunt:

    Although I’ve never met Roger, I feel as though I know him having followed his advice and teaching throughout my long career as a mixer and engineer. As a 2 year survivor of prostate cancer I can tell you that no matter how tough you are mentally it is a scary specter. And although I was fortunate enough to have good insurance it still cost me a lot of money because treatments are so astronomical your percentage can still be huge.
    I wish Roger a full and speedy recovery, and comfort for his family. My prayers are with you all.

    Marko Hunt
    Oak Ridge Boys

  20. Rob:

    I used to deliver phone books to Malibu back in 1976, but even though Roger’s house was usually on the drop list, I never ran into him in over a year of deliveries. Then one New Year’s Eve he almost ‘ran into’, (literally, with his Pantera?) my girlfriend, Kim and my neighbor’s girlfriend in the parking garage of the Jumping Frog Saloon in Brentwood, CA. Roger apologized by buying the girls drinks that night. As the evening went on they talked about the music business, and darn if Kim doesn’t mention my name as a Steely Dan spin-off artist of sorts and ends up getting her and I invited to his house. Roger told us that we were two of less than five people to first here the raw, un-mixed studio master tracks of Steely Dan’s Aja album on his Magnaplaner speakers. To make a long story short, Roger, the kind of guy he is, actually gets my original tape to Gary Katz for his opinion. Never met Connie personally, but Roger was always telling me how he felt bad about the little time he had to help her musical career as she played Oberheim, if memory serves me. Connie must be a nervous wreck, but Roger told me she was pretty tough. Hope the kids are rallying around him.
    God bless him and the family. I used to have his phone number in New York. Don’t have any contact info, other than an outdated email address, most likely. I would like to call him and wish him well. Anybody has any contact info, I’d appreciate it. Maybe bounce my request off Roger or family first. Thanks.

    Gotta go for now. Used up my share of thread bandwidth, but I had to comment on this great person and acquaintance of mine.
    We’ll all pray.
    Rob StGeorge

  21. Bill Sayre:

    Although I have only met Roger a few times through his recording seminar classes and trade shows. He was willing to spend time with me and give me pointers on recording techniques. I was one of the first to buy his plugins (hopefully they will be re-incarnated). I remember reading his magaizne column on recording that came out once a month. I always looked forward to reading this. His knowledge is just above and beyond most. He’s just one of those guys that knows alot.
    I guess being able to become a Nuclear engineer says something about how smart this guy is.

    I can only say from my stand point, Roger made me feel like I was important as he talked to me about gera, techniques, little short cuts and secrets he knew. He was a giving guy, willing share his knowledge with the masses. He seemed big kid exicted to talk about recording. You could see his face light up as he descrided things.

    I remember one trade show where he spent way more time with me then he probably should have, as others were trying to get his attention as well. But he seemed so focussed and excited talking about the subject he was on that he didn’t seem to want to stop, as you could feel his care and love for his craft.

    Roger is truely and inspiration and inovater to all of us in this industry and we can only wish him and his family the very best.

    May God Bless Roger and his family in this time of need. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Bill Sayre

  22. Mark Haynes:


    We all have friends stricken with cancer, and have witnessed remarkable stories of hope and survival; yet when it touches Family so deeply it becomes another thing entirely. We’ve only met personally & incidentally on at any number of AES show floors, and was always impressed by your genuine-ness.
    Your contributions to the Field are immeasurable, and although I wish I could afford more of a personal contribution to this effort, it’s my hope that all of these small ones add up to a significant sum that makes a difference. You’ve earned that measure of respect, and more.

    Peace & Light,
    Mark Haynes
    Fairfax, CA

  23. Mark:

    Never met this guy…but all those positive and kind caring comments can’t be wrong. As a small business man in retail, we are strugling…but nothing compared to what Roger is going through. As a Christian, my wife and I are making a contribution to help this man. Not playing the religion card, but I sincerely ask those of likewise faith to do so also. The only true gift is one that “hurts” when you give and you do it without recognition. Roger will be in our prayers and we pray that others continue to give to this man in need. It’s only our money for a while…lets pay forward. God Bless. Mark and Laura.

  24. Kenneth H. Williams:

    While I’m not credited on the album I had the pleasure of working with Roger, Jerry Garsva and Walter Becker on the recording & editing on the “Two Against Nature” CD. He was absolutely the coolest, nicest person. It’s one of the highlights of my career. Listening to the stories they told while watching them work was amazing. I will donate as well as send prayer and goodwill toward Roger and his family.

  25. Jerrell Konwinski:

    I thought your post was awesome! I hope you update soon!!! I am going to check back for updates!

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