With credits on a hit parade of artist releases, Canadian record producer and engineer Nick Blagona died from complications due to kidney, heart and lung diseases on January 4 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, ON. He was 74.
Born Nicolai Nicolaiavich Blagonadegny in Bavaria, he arrived with his parents of Prussian descent in Montreal sometime after the end of WW11 and, at a young age took an interest in electronics, reportedly assembling a crystal radio when he was six years of age. He built his first tape recorder at age 11, according to an interview done with Tape Op, and studied audio sciences at McGill U and Radio College of Canada.
In the same interview, published three years ago, Blagona stated that he learned his studio craft working for Decca Studio in London.
He returned to Canada where he went on to engineer dozens of Canadian releases, including high profile albums by April Wine, Kim Mitchell, Alexisonfire, Robert Charlebois, Nanette Workman, The Tea Party, Lewis Furey, Streetheart, Lavender Hill Mob, Boys Brigade, Teaze, and the McGarrigles.
He would travel the world later in life, engineering albums for Deep Purple, Rainbow, Ian Gillan, and Roger Glover— but first made his mark in the ‘70s when he teamed up with local producer André Perry (who had become bankable as the producer of John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance, recorded in Room 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal on June 1, 1969).
In 1974, Perry and partner Yaël Brandeis sold their studio complex in Montreal and opened Le Studio outside Morin Heights in the Laurentians, about an hour outside the city. The rural "retreat" studio was one of the first to feature a Solid State Logic console, and its post and beam construction set on bedrock created an ambience that was unique, and quickly attracted a large contingent of high-profile international artists seeking something different, and also lured by very affordable rates posted in Canadian dollars, which were at least 20-percent below par with the American greenback at that time.
Blagona was very much a part of this and had the opportunity to work with various acts that included Nazareth, Cat Stevens, The Bee Gees, Sting, Rush, and up-and-comer Corey Hart.
Perry’s vision eventually took him into the US with Brandeis and Blagona’s career took him to various centres, which included Caledonia, ON, where he operated a studio, and setting up a successful mastering room at Gil Moore’s Metalworks recording complex in Mississauga.