Bruce Fairbairn: Wikis


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Bruce Earl Fairbairn (December 30, 1949 - May 17, 1999) was a Canadian musician and international record producer from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He was active as a producer from 1976 to 1999 and is considered one of the best of his era. His most successful productions are Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi and 'Pump' by Aerosmith. He was originally a trumpet player and then started a career as a record producer for Canadian rock band Prism. He won the Canadian music industry Producer of the Year Juno Award 3 times. He produced albums for many famous international artists such as Loverboy, Blue Öyster Cult, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Scorpions, Van Halen, Chicago, The Cranberries, INXS, KISS and Yes. His style was notable for introducing dynamic horn arrangements into rock music productions. Fairbairn died suddenly on May 17, 1999 due to unknown causes.

This particular Bruce Fairbairn is not to be confused with a U.S.-born actor of the same name who played Officer Chris Owens on the ABC television series The Rookies during the mid-1970s and, later, the character of Sheldon Ganz on the NBC television series L.A. Law.[1]




Fairbairn began his career as a record producer for Canadian rock band Prism. He was originally a trumpet player in a local Vancouver jazz-rock band called Sunshyne in the early 70s. There he met bandmate Jim Vallance who would gone on to become one of the most successful songwriters in the music industry and an important music associate. After Vallance left Sunshyne in 1973 to tour Europe, Fairbairn changed the band's format to blues-rock-pop. After recruiting guitarist Lindsay Mitchell as singer-songwriter and frontman, Fairbairn attempted to pursue a recording contract for the band based on two of Mitchell's songs. By mid-1975 he was unsuccessful and approached his Vallance for assistance. Vallance reworked the arrangements on Mitchell's demos and supplied 3 of his own at Fairbairn's request. One of the songs, "Open Soul Surgery" impressed an executive at record label GRT who awarded Fairbairn's group a recording contract in 1976. Over the next year, Fairbairn produced their debut album using various musicians from Sunshyne and another Vancounver band Seeds of Time. In 1977, the album which was released under the name Prism. It contained 7 songs written by Vallance (under the pseudonym Rodney Higgs), one by Mitchell and another by Tom Lavin, a session musician. Two of Vallance's songs, "Spaceship Superstar" and "Take Me to the Kaptin", charted as singles in Canada. The album reached platinum status in Canada by the next year (in excess of 100,000 units sold.) Fairbairn then produced the band's next 3 albums, all of which went platinum or double platinum in Canada. In 1980 Fairbairn won his first of three Canadian music industry Producer of the Year Juno Awards for Prism's third album Armageddon.


Fairbairn first reached international success with Canadian glamour rock band Loverboy. It was the first band he produced other than Prism. Despite producing 4 Prism albums that all reached platinum or double platinum status in Canada, none of them broke into the lucrative US market. The self-titled Loverboy album did and began his career of hits with "Turn Me Loose" and "The Kid Is Hot Tonite." His work for Blue Öyster Cult (1983's The Revölution by Night) and Krokus' (1984 The Blitz) made him a well-known hard-rock producer. With protegé Bob Rock, Fairbairn established Vancouver's Little Mountain Sound Studios.

Slippery When Wet

Fairbairn's biggest commercial success is Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet and made him a top rate international record producer. The album sold over twenty-two million copies.

Permanent Vacation

His next major production, Aerosmith's 1987 album Permanent Vacation, generated a series of hits including "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "Angel" and "Rag Doll".

Continued International Success

In 1988 Fairbairn produced another Bon Jovi album, New Jersey, which holds the record for the hard rock album to spawn the most Top 10 singles, with five singles charting on the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart and which sold over seven million copies. Fairbain also produced Aerosmith's follow-up, 1989's Pump, which had sales in excess of seven million and was widely acclaimed by critics, and won him another "Producer of the Year" Juno Award.

The 1990s saw Fairbairn working with a string of internationally influential hard rock acts. 1990 brought AC/DC's The Razor's Edge, as well as Poison's Flesh and Blood. In 1993, he produced another Aerosmith commercial smash, Get a Grip, which racked up sales of seven million and solidified the band's growing representation as international media stars. Next Fairbairn produced the Scorpions' Face the Heat; and in 1995 Van Halen's Balance. In late 1996 and through early 1997 he produced INXS' "comeback" album Elegantly Wasted which while garnering mixed reviews, obtained sales that were higher than INXS' previous albums. A year later, Fairbairn produced The Cranberries (To the Faithful Departed), and Psycho Circus a 1998-reunion of KISS. His last fully-completed project was The Atomic Fireballs Torch This Place for Atlantic Records.

Sudden Death

After completing recording sessions for a forthcoming release from Yes (The Ladder), on May 17, 1999 Fairbairn was found dead by Jon Anderson in his Vancouver home. He was survived by his wife Julie, with whom he had three sons: Scott, Kevin and Brent. A memorial, "A Celebration of the Life of Bruce Earl Fairbairn", held at the Vancouver Chan Centre was attended by more than 300 people. Highlighted by reminiscences from close friends, the event included musical performances from Jon Anderson and Steve Howe performing the song "Nine Voices" from Yes' The Ladder sessions, as well as Tom Keenleyside, David Sinclair and finally, "Taps" played on Bruce's trumpet by son Brent.

In March 2000, Fairbairn was post-humously awarded the "Canadian Music Hall of Fame" Juno Award for his work.

Production Style

Production discography

See also


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