The producer of Neil Young’s seminal masterpiece Harvest, Elliot Mazer, has died at the age of 79.
Mazer’s daughter, Alison, confirmed the news that he had passed away at his San Francisco home on Sunday to Rolling Stone. His daughter also revealed that Mazer had died after suffering a heart attack, also explaining how her father had been battling dementia for several years. Outside of Harvest, Mazer also produced the 1973 live LP Time Fades Away and his lost 1975 album Homegrown which released by Young last year. Mazer was also at the helm for 1983’s Everybody’s Rockin’ and 1985 effort Old Ways.
“Elliot loved music,” his sister, Bonnie Murray, said. “He loved what he did; he was a perfectionist. Everybody has so much respect for him, and he’s been suffering for a couple years.”
“A master in the studio, Elliot was a really good guy,” Young wrote after his death. “He had a great way about him and I wish we had gotten to do more together. I am happy and thankful though that we got what we did get. Harvest is one of my most recognized recordings and it all happened because of Elliot Mazer. Thanks Elliot. Lots of love bro.”
Mazer’s life began on September 5th, 1941, when he was born in New York City. However, Mazer’s family soon relocated them to Teaneck, New Jersey, where Bonnie and his sister grew up. Moving to New Jersey would help guide Mazer into his music career as the family’s neighbour, Bob Weinstock, owned the jazz label Prestige Records and hired Mazer when he was 21. The first record he worked on was 1962’s Standard Coltrane, an album created from a collection of John Coltrane outtakes he had stumbled upon, and Mazer’s stock continued to rise from there.
“We all knew there was something very special going on,” Mazer told Shakey biographer Jimmy McDonough about Harvest. “Looking back, I don’t really think I felt at ease with him, even though we spent hours and hours in the studio. The serious amount of pain he was in and his mood shifts — greatly controlled by drugs — kept everybody at a distance.”
Outside of his work with Neil Young, Mazer also worked on The Band’s The Last Waltz, Dead Kennedys’ Give Me Convenience, The Dream Syndicate’s Ghost Stories, and many more throughout his career. Mazer eve served as a consultant to Stanford University’s Computer Center for Research in Music and Acoustics.