Obituary: Iain Burgess

February 12, 2010


Though he was a native of the U.K., Iain Burgess' name was ubiquitous on some of the most influential recordings from the Midwestern post-punk scene of the '80s, and he could boast of engineering credits on some of the best records Chicago ever produced, among them "Atomizer," "Bulldozer" and "Racer X" by Big Black, "Fly on a Wire" by the Effigies, "Throb Throb," "All Rise" and "Jettison" by Naked Raygun and "Three Chord Monte" and "Earwig" by Pegboy.

According to reports on numerous punk Web sites, Burgess died on Thursday of a pulmonary embolism, a complication of pancreatic and liver cancer.

Though Burgess moved to France in the early '90s. where he was a operating a studio in the countryside called Black Box, the massive, crunching, live-and-in-your-face sound that he captured on those Midwestern punk recordings of the '80s continues to be emulated by countless other producers and artists, and chief among his many acolytes was his friend and student, Chicagoan Steve Albini.

"Iain was a dear friend and mentor, and I consider him responsible for a good many of the best things that have ever happened to me," Albini wrote in a post on his own studio's Web site. "As is the case when someone important dies, I find it hard to imagine the world without him. Black Box survives as a testament and monument to Iain's imagination and perseverance. It's in the running for the best place on earth to make a record."

Burgess' discography also included work with the Bhopal Stiffs, Bloodsport, Ministry, the Defoliants, Heavy Manners, the Cows, the Poster Children, the Didjits, Breaking Circus and Jawbox, among many, many others.

A funeral service reportedly is planned for Feb. 19.