Jack Douglas is an American record producer. He is best known for his work with various hard rock bands in the 1970s, notably producing three successful albums for Aerosmith.
Jack Douglas was born in The Bronx, New York. Starting out as folk musician and performer, he worked on Robert Kennedy’s senatorial campaign as a songwriter. Douglas then moved to England and joined a succession of bands before returning to New York to attend the Institute of Audio Research as a member of its first graduating class. His first professional job was at the new recording studio Record Plant Studios, not as producer or engineer, but as the janitor. Soon he was working at the recording desk, as a recording engineer, contributing to projects by Miles Davis, The James Gang, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Montrose, Rough Cutt, Artful Dodger, Moxy, Flipp, and Mountain.
A chance encounter with a group member led Douglas to help engineer The Who‘s 1971 Record Plant sessions for the aborted Lifehouse project. Songs developed from these sessions were later included on Who’s Next (1971). Douglas was then given the opportunity to engineer John Lennon‘s classic Imagine album in 1971. Douglas and Lennon formed a close bond and worked together for the remainder of Lennon’s life.
As a Record Plant staff engineer, Douglas also forged working relationships with Patti Smith, Blue Öyster Cult, the New York Dolls, Cheap Trick, Starz and most notably Aerosmith. It was during the recording of the New York Dolls’ first album that Douglas was encouraged by producer Bob Ezrin to also consider becoming a record producer.
Douglas engineered and produced many of Aerosmith’s albums in the 1970s, including Get Your Wings (1974), Toys in the Attic (1975), Rocks (1976) and Draw the Line (1977), all of which have gone multi-platinum. Toys in the Attic and Rocks broke Aerosmith into the mainstream and have become highly influential, with both albums ranking among Rolling Stone‘s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time“.
The close relationship between Douglas and Aerosmith extended beyond producing and engineering, as Douglas was also a musical contributor to the group when they came up short of material on their projects. For example, Douglas helped write the band’s 1978 hit “Kings and Queens“. He was often given the nickname of “the sixth member” of Aerosmith, due to his close relationship with the band. Douglas was replaced as producer by the band for the 1979 release Night in the Ruts, but Douglas was to again work with the group on 1982’s Rock in a Hard Place and several of Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry‘s solo albums. For much of the late 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, Aerosmith worked with other producers, but in the mid-2000s, they reunited with Jack Douglas on the 2004 blues cover album, Honkin’ on Bobo. Douglas also produced the band’s album Music from Another Dimension!, in 2012.
In 1980, Douglas was working as producer with Lennon and Yoko Ono on their penultimate Double Fantasy album (for which he won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year). During the same sessions he worked on another Lennon/Ono album Milk and Honey that was to be released later, but Lennon’s murder cut that project short. An unfinished version of the album was released in 1984. Douglas was later involved in litigation with Ono over unpaid royalties from Double Fantasy.
Since then he has kept working as an engineer and producer, reuniting with Aerosmith for three more albums and producing albums for artists such as Supertramp, Zebra, Clutch, Local H, Slash’s Snakepit and, in 2006. the return of the New York Dolls.
Douglas also teaches a studio etiquette class at Ex’pression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville, California.