Mike Stone (a.k.a. Mike "Clay" Stone) (1951 – May 2002) was an English recording engineer and record producer.
Stone was best known for his work with Asia, Blue Öyster Cult, Foreigner, Journey, KISS, Queen, Lou Reed and others. He also ran an independent record label Clay Records in the late 70s and early 80s, and worked on the production of some of that label's releases. Stone also provided backing vocals on the Queen song "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy" on the A Day At The Races album.
- 1973 Queen - Queen, Engineer
- 1974 Queen - Queen II, Engineer
- 1974 Queen - Sheer Heart Attack, Engineer
- 1975 Queen - A Night At The Opera, Engineer
- 1976 Queen - A Day At The Races, Engineer, Guest Vocalist
- 1977 Queen - News Of The World, Engineer, Co-producer
Written by Brian May, 2002
We were deeply sad to learn of the passing, last week, of our friend Mike Stone.
When we, Queen, just four young lads with a dream, first came to Trident studios, Mike was a new recruit. He was on the first rung of the ladder, taken on basically as a tea-boy, looking for opportunities to learn the trade of sound engineering. While we were making the first Queen album (in slow and painful steps using Studio down-time, because our management didn't want to spend money!) Mike rose to the position of Tape Operator, since he was already showing technical skills, and becoming recognised as a personality who was nice to have around.
We got on brilliantly with Mike, and soon realised that he had possibly the best ears in the building!! So much so that when almost everyone in the place had had a go at mixing our first potential single, "Keep Yourself Alive" and it still didn't sound the way we wanted it, we enlisted Mike to do a mix with us in a spare moment one weekend. The result was the version which still appears on the "Queen (1)" album - by far the best that was achieved in those sessions.
In the ensuing years, as we went back in to make more recordings, Mike became more and more important to us. On the very complex "Queen II" album Mike did the major part of recording and lovingly bouncing all those vocal and guitar harmonies - he had an uncanny knack of laying them all out in a perfect "Stereo Spread", which is very apparent now that we are revisiting those multitrack tapes to mix them in surround sound. All through this album, and then "Sheer Heart Attack", and the massively successful "A Night at the Opera", Mike sat at the controls of our sound. He was regarded as brilliant by our producer Roy Baker, who more and more was able to assume a "hands off" position from which he could keep a greater perspective. Mike's hands were on the faders to balance those cascading vocal Harmonies in "Bohemian Rhapsody" now so well-known all around the World. It was he who lovingly assembled and balanced the amazing multitracked voice of Freddie on "Love of my Life", perhaps slightly less well-known, but to my mind one of the greatest examples ever of a mutitracked voice on record.
Mike continued with us to even greater technical heights in the next album -"A Day at the Races". Most people remember "Somebody to Love", a skilful pastiche of a huge Gospel Choir made up of only three voices, Freddie, Roger and myself. Mike's expert ears and fingers kept all that in balance, with a magic "crystal" sparkle, but try listening to the less famous "Millionaire Waltz" from the same album, for an even more amazing painting in sound on a broad canvas - a beautiful example of Mike Stone's meticulous work.
The peak of our collaboration with Mike was "News of the World" - the album which contained 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are The Champions'. By now Mike received his full credit from us of Co-Producer. He had risen the whole way to the pinnacle of his professsion. After brilliantly handling this album Mike became very much in demand. His fine work with Whitesnake and other emerging Rock bands is now legendary.
We drifted apart in the years that followed, as we did more and more recording overseas. But we remained friends - I just wish we had kept in touch better - Right Now was the exact time when we were hoping to enlist Mike's help in re-creating new mixes for all those tracks in the DTS Surround format. Sadly we will have do it without his physical presence. But his personality and influence are still with us, loud and clear.
In the studio he was always the perfectionist, yet always funny, and can be heard on many of the old multitrack tapes gently chiding us if we screwed up! The sessions were always a romp in those days - and looking back now, it seems that we found it much harder to keep our spirits up later on when he was gone. Mike will always be remembered for his magical touch with sounds, coupled with an understanding of music rare in Engineers, and for his sense of humour, but also his escapades with women, to large numbers of whom whom he was irresistible! If Mike was ever absent when the tape rolled, it was inevitably because he had been waylaid by some gorgeous female, and we would have to wait until his full strength returned. Mike did nothing by halves. He was a wonderful guy to be around - and leaves a superb legacy for the World. We loved him.
RIP and Rock On Mike.