Engineer Jim Williamson Passes

Jim Williamson, the recording engineer known for work with Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, passed away at his Nashville area home on Jan. 20. He was 75, and died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Williamson played a role in recordings classics such as Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden” and Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album.

In fact, Williamson was behind the board when Dylan recorded “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” He handled it with ease when Dylan insisted on recording the song in a single take, in the dark.

Williamson ran the boards for Country Music Hall of Fame producers Don Law, Owen Bradley, Ken Nelson and Billy Sherrill. He is also credited with being one of the first Nashville engineers to provide musicians with headphones during the recording process.

Williamson also helped a young Kristofferson, working as a studio janitor at the time, record the demos that ultimately led to his signing at Monument Records.

“He was a great listener and a father figure to a lot of people,” says hit producer Garth Fundis. “He was a really awesome man—honest to a fault.”

“He was one of the finest engineers I ever worked with in Nashville,” agrees Haggard, who enlisted Williamson for more than 10 years.

Williamson was a devoted family man who would have celebrated his 50th anniversary with wife Edith this year. He is survived by Edith; daughter Debbie Williamson, of San Diego; daughter Suzy Pender, of Nashville; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by son, Jimmy Williamson.

Williamson’s body is being cremated. Per his wishes, services will be private. No public memorial will be held.

Jim Williamson and granddaughter Claire Pender on Easter Day 2010.

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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