David Ramos, Getty Images When the Human League dropped their juggernaut hit…
- Posted on Jun 6th 2011 9:30AM by Farah Ishaq
Rushent, famous for creating his own unique programming sound, helped create the early-1980s electro keyboard sound, epitomised by the Human League's 1.5-million-selling Christmas smash hit 'Don't You Want Me' from the 1981 'Dare' album.
Speaking to Spinner last year about the forthcoming 30th anniversary of the landmark album, Rushent proudly explained, "I've done a lot of good things that I really like, but making 'Dare' was quite a unique experience and we were on a mission, you know? We were trying to make most of this primitive gear work most of the time. Trying to get it to stay together and play together. It was like climbing f---ing Everest!"
"Had somebody said to me then, 'Do you realise that in 30 years' time people will still be talking about this record, it will still be selling and it will be hailed as a marker in the sand? That generation after generation of young kids will go for it and get into it and emulate it and dance to it?' I'd have said 'You're f---ing mad!' But that's what's happened. It's amazing, it's really quite amazing."
Rushent's musical legacy went beyond 'Dare.' The engineer who started work for the United Artists label in the early 70s -- shaping music by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Shirley Bassey and T.Rex -- he is also credited with creating the early punk sound.
He produced the first demos for Joy Division, early singles by Buzzcocks; including 1978's 'Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've), the Stranglers first three albums, records by XTC and Generation X -- even Altered Images' 'Happy Birthday' -- to name a few, perfecting what became an almost trademark style for simplified keyboards and other instrumentation. He was also renowned for his sense of humour and ability to put artists at ease during long recording sessions.
Retiring from the music industry in the mid 1980s, after creative differences with the Human League and his studio Genetic becoming less fashionable, Rushent dedicated his time to bringing up his children as a single parent. It was "three or four years ago" when he began "easing his way back in, building a studio and learning all of the new technology. In the last 10 years technology has raced ahead and I've had a lot of catching up to do."
As well as starting work on a modern remix of 'Dare' for the 30th anniversary, Rushent last year co-produced son James' second Does It Offend You, Yeah? record as well as Brighton girl group the Pipettes' second album 'Earth Vs the Pipettes.'
A tribute message board has been set up in Rushent's honour on Facebook by his son here.