Tom Dowd was an American recording engineer and producer for Atlantic Records. He was credited with innovating the multi-track recording method. Dowd worked on a virtual “who’s who” of recordings that encompassed blues, jazz, pop, rock and soul records. At age 18, Dowd was drafted into the military with the rank of sergeant. He continued his work in physics at Columbia University. He worked on the Manhattan Project contributing to the atomic bomb. The purpose of the work was unclear until 1945. Dowd planned to obtain a degree in nuclear physics when he completed his work on the Manhattan Project. However because his work was top secret the university did not recognize it, and Dowd decided not to continue, since the university’s curriculum would not have been able to further his physics education. His research for the military was more advanced than the academia of the times. He soon became a top recording engineer at Atlantic Records and recorded popular artists such as Ray Charles, The Drifters, The Coasters, Ruth Brown, and Bobby Darin (Dowd recorded the legendary “Mack the Knife”) and captured jazz masterpieces by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Thelonius Monk, and Charlie Parker. His first hit was Eileen Barton’s “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d a Baked A Cake”. It was Dowd’s idea to cut Ray Charles’ recording of “What’d I Say” into two parts and release them as the “A” and “B” sides of one 45 rpm single record.
Dowd worked as an engineer and producer from the 1940s until the beginning of the 21st century. He recorded albums by many artists including: Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominos, Rod Stewart, Wishbone Ash, Cream, Lulu, Chicago, The Allman Brothers Band, Joe Bonamassa, The J. Geils Band, Meat Loaf, Sonny & Cher, The Rascals, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Kenny Loggins, James Gang, Dusty Springfield, Eddie Harris, Charles Mingus, Herbie Mann, Booker T. and the MGs, The Drifters, Otis Redding, The Coasters, Bobby Darin, Aretha Franklin, Arlan Feiles, Joe Castro and Ruth Brown.