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Tony Visconti

Tony ViscontiAKA Anthony Visconti

Born: 24-Apr-1944
Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Music Producer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Influential rock producer and musician

One of the more influential and versatile producers working in the industry over the past four decades, Brooklyn expatriate Tony Visconti began his exploration of musical forms (as is the case with any musician worth his salt) on the ukelele. The instrument was taught to him by his father when the younger Visconti was only five, and was eventually supplemented in his later childhood by lessons in music theory and guitar from instructor/author Leon Block. Throughout his teens he immersed himself in diverse styles -- playing guitar in rock and roll bands, double bass in his school orchestra, and tuba in a brass band. At the age of 15, Visconti abandoned the classically-oriented direction of his training, left high school and launched his career as a professional musician in the faux-Latin outfit Ricardo and The Latineers. The next several years saw him alternating between bass and guitar in club, cabaret and lounge bands, before making a short-lived attempt as a pop recording artist in a duo with his then-wife Siegrid; Tony and Siegrid managed a regional hit with their first single Long Hair (1967), but when the next release went nowhere the pair's recording future was brought to an end. It was at this point that Visconti (somewhat involuntarily) took the job of house producer for his publisher the Richmond Organization.

After a chance meeting by a water cooler in a publishing house with British producer Denny Cordell in 1968, Visconti found himself abruptly pulled into the big leagues when Cordell brought him to along assist in a session for jazz vocalist Georgie Fame. Within weeks of the session, Visconti had relocated to London (a move that would turn out to be permanent) and began contributing to the output of many of the most popular British musicians of the time. It was his production work for the T-Rex album Prophets, Seers And Sages The Angels Of The Ages (1968) that really set things in motion for the young producer, not only resulting in his involvement with the band's next seven offerings (including the seminal Electric Warrior, 1971), but also instigating his association with singer David Bowie -- an association for which he continues to be best known. Joined by guitarist Mick Ronson and drummer John Cambridge, Bowie and Visconti formed the short-lived outfit Hype and toured about the UK; Cambridge was later replaced with "Woody" Woodmansey, and it was this line-up -- with Visconti also handling production duties -- that recorded Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World in 1970. Visconti continued to act as Bowie's producer for much of the singer's output during the 1970s, adding his skills to the albums Diamond Dogs (1974), Young Americans (1975), Heroes (1977), Low (1977), Lodger (1979) and Scary Monsters (1980). His work for Bowie and T. Rex was far from the sum of his activities during the decade, and contributions to albums by Mary Hopkin (to whom he was married for 10 years), Gentle Giant, The Strawbs, Badfinger. Osibisa, Sparks and Thin Lizzy (amongst several others) kept him more than occupied.

Tony Visconti maintained his diverse workload throughout the 80s and 90s, dividing his time between new artists like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Adam and the Ants, The Alarm and Les Rita Mitsouko, and revitalizing the careers of old work-horses such as The Moody Blues, Jon Anderson and Paul McCartney. His "big league" profile may have declined somewhat towards the late 90s, but he continued to involve himself in a wide variety of musical styles, producing Electric Honey for Luscious Jackson, Leisure Noise by Gay Dad, Soul Candy for Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Dawn of Ananda for Annie Haslam and Moonchild for Debbie Gibson -- all between the years 1999 and 2000. In 2002 he renewed his association with Bowie, taking the helm for both that year's Heathen and the following year's Reality; in the early years of the 00s, he also began several new associations with young artists, the band Placebo and the fiery singer/songwriter Kristeen Young foremost amongst them.

Father: Anthony F. Visconti (d. 2005)
Mother: Josephine Campo
Wife: Siegrid (musician, m. 1967, div.)
Wife: Mary Hopkin (musician, m. 1971, div. 1981)
Son: Delaney Jay Visconti (b. 1972)
Wife: May Pang (music promoter, m. 1989, div. 2000)
Son: Morgan Visconti

    High School: New Utrecht High School, Brooklyn, NY
    High School: Erasmus High School, NY

    Tony and Siegrid
    David Bowie Multi-instrumentalist/Vocalist (1970-78 and 2002-03)
    The Hype Bassist (1970-71)
    Hazel O'Connor Keyboardist/Vocalist (1979-80)
    Les Rita Mitsouko Multi-instrumentalist (1986-88)
    The Seahorses Multi-instrumentalist (1997)
    Phillip Boa Bassist/Guitarist/Vocalist (2000)
    Prefab Sprout Multi-instrumentalist (2001)
    Kristeen Young Bassist (2002-)
    The Finn Brothers Multi-instrumentalist (2004)
    Tony Visconti

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