Roger Nichols (recording engineer)

Roger Nichols is a recording engineer best-known for his work with the group Steely Dan.


Roger S. Nichols (born September 22, 1944 in Oakland, California) was a nuclear operator at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in the mid-60s for three years until he turned his hobby of audio recording into a career as a recording engineer and producer. Though known mostly for his work with Steely Dan, his client list also includes the Beach Boys, John Denver, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, Crosby Stills & Nash, Al Di Meola, Roy Orbison, Cass Elliot, Plácido Domingo, Gloria Estefan, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Rickie Lee Jones, Kenny Loggins, Mark Knopfler, Eddie Murphy, Michael McDonald, James Taylor, Toots Thielemans, and many more. His work has been nominated for Grammy Awards many times, of which he has won seven.


In 1978, Nichols pioneered the technique of "digital drum replacement" by inventing the Wendel sampling computer, which was used to provide some of the drum and percussion sounds on Steely Dan's acclaimed Gaucho album, notably the song "Hey Nineteen". This technology is now commonplace in music production around the world.

Nichols also invented and produced a rubidium nuclear clock under his company name Digital Atomics. The purpose of the clock was to provide the accuracy of nuclear timekeeping to better synchronize digital recording equipment in the studio, but at a lower cost than the typical cesium clocks such as those used in military and aviation applications.

Other activities/trivia

Nichols is an airplane pilot, and was close friends and flying buddies with singer/songwriter John Denver. Nichols engineered and produced albums for Denver over a nearly twenty-year period, including the 1998 children's train album titled All Aboard which earned Denver his first Grammy awarded posthumously. Nichols was on his way to California to fly with Denver in his new experimental Long-EZ plane when he learned of the crash that tragically ended Denver's life.

Nichols is also an avid amateur astronomer, scuba diver, radio-controlled model airplane enthusiast, and auto racing photographer.

He has been mentor to many young and upcoming engineers such as James Blount of RecordNOW and Kevin "Vic" Martin of Seventeen Grand Studios.

He is married to writer/musician Conrad Reeder and they have two daughters, Cimcie & Ashlee.

Nichols started a company called Roger Nichols Digital in late 2005. In 2006, the company took over licensing and distribution of the Elemental Audio plugins.

Grammy Awards

  • 1977 "Best Engineer Non-Classical" Steely Dan Aja
  • 1978 "Best Engineer Non-Classical" Steely Dan FM
  • 1981 "Best Engineer Non Classical" Steely Dan Gaucho
  • 1997 Producer "Best Children's Album" John Denver All Aboard!
  • 2000 "Best Pop Vocal Album" Steely Dan Two Against Nature
  • 2000 "Album of the Year" Steely Dan Two Against Nature
  • 2000 "Best Engineer Non-Classical" Steely Dan Two Against Nature

External links

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