John Shanks is one of the hottest and most influential producers working today. On top of that, he is a hit songwriter and accomplished guitar player. John has produced and/or written 43 #1 singles, 86 #1 albums and sold over 60 million records to date in the genres of Rock, Pop and Country music. In 2005, he won the Grammy for Producer of the Year. To people in the industry, his work is considered the gold standard. John’s records have become the sound of Top Forty Radio, Clive Davis told Rolling Stone. He’s the father of that guitar-driven kid of pop sound.
John’s home base is Los Angeles Henson Studio C, formerly A&M Records Studios. The room he has recorded in for the last seven years is itself a legendary space, where Joni Mitchell’s Blue was recorded as well as Carole King’s Tapestry and many others seminal tracks. Since taking it over, John has worked with some of music’s most important artists like Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, Melissa Etheridge, Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Santana, Michelle Branch, Fleetwood Mac and numerous others. He’s a rare combination of songwriter, musician and producer, observed Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine in Billboard’s profile of Shanks, but he also has a great feel of working with artists. That’s hard to find.
While he was still in high school, John and his first band were playing gigs around LA. His incredible talent on guitar was the source of his first break, when he was asked to become Teena Marie’s tour guitarist at the age of seventeen. But songwriting was never far away, and John was soon writing jingles and themes for commercials and movies of the week, even as his guitar skills remained in high demand for demos and session work.
That period of time really helped me, says John. Most musicians only go into the studio for their own projects, but I was involved in a lot of recording. The chance to be in the studio with so many different producers and engineers on such diverse projects was, for me, really the grounding of my sound recording education. I started to notice what worked, what I like. I started to be intrigued by what made a song work in the studio, both in terms of writing and production.
A meeting with Melissa Etheridge in 1987 proved to be the next turning point in John Shanks’ career. After briefly playing guitar in her band, John left to concentrate more on his own writing and production. In the 1990’s, John worked with diverse rock, pop and blues acts like Alanis Morrisette, The Corrs, Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker and others. John and Melissa reunited in the late nineties to co-write and produce her Grammy-nominated 1999 album Breakdown, and he’s been working with some of the biggest names in music ever since.
John’s success continued into the 2000’s where some of his biggest hits included Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You,” Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb,” Bon Jovi”s “(Who Says) You Can’t Go Home,” Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocketful of Sunshine,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” Ashlee Simpson’s “Pieces of Me” and The Wreckers’ “Leave The Pieces.” He also co-wrote and produced Take That’s international hit album Beautiful World including the #1 single “Patience” which won the BRIT award for song of the year in 2007. He reteamed with Take That the following year to produce Circus which also became a multi-platinum #1 album. John also worked on singles and albums with artists like Chris Isaak, Steven Tyler, Liz Phair, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Santana, Sting, Annie Lennox, Leona Lewis, Robbie Robertson and others.
John remains one of the most in-demand writer/producers in the world. In February 2012, he sent the music blogs into a frenzy when it was announced he had produced Van Halen’s comeback album “A Different Kind of Truth.” He has also recently worked with such artists as Colbie Calliat, Goo Goo Dolls, Westlife, Delta Goodrem, Lawson and he’s currently in the studio with Bon Jovi working on their 5th album together. A chameleon in the studio that improves and clarifies artists’ own voices rather than imposing a signature sound, John’s work continues to be diverse, eclectic and successful. As Sheryl Crow summarized to Rolling Stone, John knows how to make stuff sound like it belongs on the radio.