Grammy-Winning Engineer Jim Malloy Passes

Jim Malloy

Recording engineer, producer and song publisher Jim Malloy died Thursday, July 5, at age 87. Malloy worked with such superstars as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. He won a 1963 Grammy Award for his engineering work on Henry Manclini’s movie theme “Charade” and was nominated for Grammys five other times.

Born in Illinois in 1931, he moved to the West Coast for a career in the electronics industry in 1954. He began his career in Los Angeles in the early 1960s by engineering discs by Mahalia Jackson, Duane Eddy, Duke Ellington, Doris Day, Ike & Tina Turner, Miles Davis, Lee Hazelwood, Ann-Margret, Sam Cooke, Bob Wills, Bing Crosby and Mancini.

Chet Atkins enticed him to move to Nashville. Atkins ran the Music Row office of RCA Records, for whom Malloy worked in 1965-68. He engineered albums by RCA’s Eddy Arnold, Waylon Jennings, Charley Pride, Hank Snow, Connie Smith and John Hartford, as well as Atkins, Nelson, Parton and Presley.

Jim Malloy

His record-production career began in 1968-69 with the acclaimed Townes Van Zandt albums For the Sake of the Song, Our Mother the Mountain and Townes Van Zandt.

A stint at Monument Records led to work with Roy Orbison.

Ray Stevens was also a regular production client there. Malloy produced the star’s 1969 million-selling hit “Gitarzan” among other efforts. Jim Malloy was the recording engineer for Johnny Cash’s national TV series in 1969-71. It was filmed at the Ryman Auditorium and featured a who’s-who of the music world at the time, including Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Linda Ronstadt and Merle Haggard.

When former RCA executive Brad McEuen launched Mega Records, Malloy became that label’s regular producer.

With Malloy as her producer, Sammi Smith earned a Grammy Award for her 1971 pop-crossover million seller on Mega, “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” He also produced her hits “Today I Started Loving You Again” (1975), “City of New Orleans” (1973), “Never Been to Spain” (1974), “Long Black Veil” (1974), “My Window Faces the South” (1976) and “Then You Walk In” (1971).

The last-named was co-written by Jim Malloy’s son David Malloy. He became a staff songwriter at his father’s publishing company, DebDave Music. So did Even Stevens, and the two co-wrote with star Eddie Rabbitt. This resulted in giant hits for the firm such as “I Love a Rainy Night” and “Drivin’ My Life Away” in the early 1980s. The company also discovered such songwriters as Paul Overstreet, Dan Tyler, Frank Myers and Thom Schuyler.

Meanwhile, Jim Malloy continued to produce records. He guided four LPs by Stella Parton and continued to work with Elvis Presley and other artists. In recent years, Malloy reunited with Eddy Arnold for a series of albums. He published his memoir, Playback, in 2005.

Update [8/15/18]: A Celebration of Life will be held for Jim Malloy on Friday, Aug. 24, from 5-7 p.m. at Studio A (located at 30 Music Sq. W) in Nashville. In lieu of flowers, those wanting to make a contribution in Jim’s honor can do so to the Nashville Engineer Relief Fund.

Jim Malloy (second from left) celebrates BMI Million-Air awards with BMI’s Jody Williams, David Malloy, BMI’s David Preston and Phil Graham in January 2018. Photo: Steve Lowry

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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