Jack Douglas, an influential American record producer, was born and raised in New York City. While starting out his career as a folk musician and performer, he worked as a songwriter on Robert Kennedy’s senatorial campaign. Douglas then had the opportunity to move to England, where he played with a few different bands. When he returned back to New York, he enrolled at the Institute of Audio Research as part of its first graduating class. Following graduation, he landed his first professional job at a new recording studio in the city called Record Plant Studios. Although he was hired as a janitor, he soon worked his way to the recording desk, where he contributed to projects by a number of artists, including Alice Cooper, Miles Davis, Artful Dodger, The James Gang, Mountain, Rough Cutt, and Moxy.
After a fateful run-in with a member of The Who, Douglas was chosen to engineer the band’s 1971 album Who’s Next. This landmark recording led to an incredible opportunity for him to engineer John Lennon’s Imagine album. Douglas and Lennon formed a close bond and continued working together until Lennon’s life was tragically cut short.
Working as a staff engineer at Record Plant also gave Jack Douglas the chance to work with Cheap Trick, the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Blue Öyster Cult, and most notably Aerosmith. Douglas engineered and produced four early Aerosmith Albums: Get Your Wings (1974), Toys in the Attic (1975), Rocks (1976), and Draw the Line (1977). While working on these projects, he developed a close relationship with the band and was often called “the sixth member” of Aerosmith. Beyond producing and engineering, Douglas was also a musical contributor, pitching in when Aerosmith needed more material for their projects.
Aerosmith went another direction with their 1980 album, Night in the Ruts, replacing him as producer. However, he reunited with them to help with some of their more recent material, including Honkin’ on Bobo (2004), Music from Another Dimension! (2012), and several solo albums by Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry. Aerosmith still maintains close ties with Douglas.
Outside of working with Aerosmith, Douglas worked with legendary Australian group Skyhooks. In 1978, he was the executive producer for their album Guilty Until Proven Insane. This included the track “Women in Uniform,” which was later covered by Iron Maiden. In 1980, Douglas worked as a producer on Double Fantasy, the last studio album released by John Lennon during his lifetime. He also worked on the album Milk and Honey, which was never fully realized following Lennon’s assassination.
After Lennon’s death, Douglas took a step back and began working less. However, in the years since then, he has produced three more albums for Aerosmith as well as albums for other artists such as Clutch, Supertramp, the New York Dolls (their 2006 return), and Slash’s Snakepit (a solo project by former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash). Douglas currently teaches a studio etiquette class at the Ex’pression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville, California, where he also recorded the Bay Area’s Brass Liberation Orchestra in 2007.