Voyle Gilmore

b. January 14, 1912 - location N/A
d. 1979
- location N/A

Kingston Trio Producer: 1957-1964

  The Following text is from the liner notes of John Gilmore's CD:

When I was born on March 19, 1953, Frank Sinatra sent my mother a rose bush. Only five days earlier, he bad signed a multi-year recording contract with Capitol Records, an agreement that introduced him to my father, Voyle Gilmore. Together they would make some of the greatest records of all time. 

Sinatra had fallen on hard times as the late 40’s passed into the 50’s and a new direction was needed to revitalize his career. After Dad was assigned to him as his producer, he and Frank forged a new approach to making records that brought Sinatra greater success than ever, and mapped out a style that defined him for the rest of his career. They decided to approach recording in two ways - to make single records that showcased Frank’s interpretive ability and LP albums that were conceptual in nature. The songs selected had a similarity of character that made each LP unique and the musical arrangements were written to emphasize the qualities the songs had in common. Dad had the idea of teaming arranger-conductor Nelson Riddle with Sinatra. Riddle had played trombone with the Tommy Dorsey Band (ironically the band with which Sinatra had gained great notoriety in the 40’s) and had been successfully paired with other Capitol artists, including Nat King Cole, for whom he arranged the hits "Mona Lisa" and "Unforgettable." Ultimately he arranged and conducted two-thirds of Sinatra’s 300 plus recordings for Capitol. His arranging approach was rich in texture and swinging in style and Frank incorporated those elements into his own performance.

When an album project was planned, my father made the initial song selections from the large amount of material that music publishers submitted to him. Sometimes Sinatra brought in songs he had found. Next, Frank and Dad made the final selections. Then the arranger, usually Nelson, wrote the instrumental accompaniments. After the recording dates were chosen and the musicians hired, Dad oversaw the sessions, deciding which take of a song really gelled and showed Frank at his best. He had a soft spoken, relaxed style that when coupled with Sinatra’s fiery manner created a balanced approach to the recordings that yielded great results. All in all, they recorded 10 albums and numerous singles together. Among the albums, several are considered to be Sinatra’s best by critics and fans alike. Even Sinatra’s and Riddle’s favorites were those Dad produced.

When my father passed away almost 20 years ago, be left me with many stories and anecdotes about working with Sinatra: how Frank liked to record late at night; the after-session dinners at the Villa Capri restaurant in Hollywood; the stars that attended the recordings as though they were concerts; seeing the "veins in Frank’s neck pop out" as he worked so hard to make it sound so easy; the incredible moments when Sinatra and the song and the arrangement came together as one and everyone in the room knew that something unique and magical was happening. 

Years later in 1972 while attending UCLA, I entered the Frank Sinatra Awards competition in the Pop Vocal category I reached the finals and, to my surprise, one of the "finals" judges was Nelson Riddle. I won the competition and afterwards told Nelson I was Voyle’s son. During the awards reception, I called Dad to tell him I had won. Nelson came to the phone and he and Dad had a reunion after some years of being out of touch. I had the thrill of meeting Sinatra due to my winning the award, and performed for him a number of times in the 80’s during my six-year engagement at Jimmy’s Restaurant in Beverly Hills.

My father worked at Capitol Records for over 22 years, producing, in addition to Sinatra, the Beatles, Judy Garland, the Kingston Trio, Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Les Paul and Mary Ford and others. He also served as vice-president of the Artists and Repertoire department during the 60’s.

-- John Gilmore


Voyle Gilmore Part 1

Posted by Phil C to the Kingston Crossroads board on 7/1/2002, 10:26 pm

From the Richard Johnston interviews: Voyle Gilmore, January 1973, on recording techniques.

"The production process would take a week. I had a higher number of takes on them than anybody else, one tune was 137 takes. The earlier tunes were simpler because they'd been doing them for a while, later they became a little more intricate in their guitar ideas.

I used to put three stand mikes up for their instruments, then 3 hanging mikes, and we recorded them on 3-track machines with half inch tape, putting one voice and one guitar on each track. The bass stood always back with his own mike and we put that on the track with Nick's guitar . . . because Nick played a tenor guitar with a high pitch, so if you needed more bass you could add equalization on the bottom of the track without interfering with the guitar being that high. We didn't record the voices too high so we could get the guitar on there pretty good; on solos we get the guitar then dub the voice over them. Every album after the third was done at least two times over - original take plus dubbing. Now, that gave them a more robust sound, and it helped their intonation.

We didn't have self-synch recording like they do today - sometimes it would take me longer to 'mix' it down than it did to record it in the studio - many times, over and over and over, because all I ever expected to get from these guys were the right words and the right notes. Then, as far as balance, I would do it in the mixing room afterwards adding the echo and equalization...and I think Werber didn't realize. One thing I always liked about them as three individuals who sang together well; if I couldn't hear each of the three I worried. Double- voicing or overdubbing was my secret. I was one of the first to do it.

We didn't have a lot of people in the studio watching the sessions because there was so much overdubbing and work, it would've been boring, and besides, we didn't want people to see what was going on. We wanted them to hear the finest product. They'd have their arguments and disagreements, but they were always very chummy, clubby, and so was Werber".

More recording notes from Gilmore interview tomorrow. Phil

Voyle Gilmore part 2

Posted by Phil C to the Kingston Crossroads board on 7/2/2002, 10:01 am

From the Richard Johnston interviews 1973.

"Then, it was overdubbing. Today you would do it on multiple tract recordings and then combine them.

Overdubbing can even be done on a single track. Say you get your first sound on the tape. Now, in order to add anything else to that, you cannot add it to the same tape, so you play back the tape you have, and you let the guys out in the studio hear that, but you're also piping it over to another tape machine which is picking the first tape up plus what's happening in the studio. And then you combine the two and balance them with knobs, one that equalizes the transfer, one that equalizes the studio sound. Once you got those mixed, you can play that back and add some more, but each dub-down gets you more tape hiss.

After the first two mono albums, I went to 3-track, putting one guitar and voice on each track. so then they'd sing and play their parts, and we'd get that as balanced as we could. But we'd keep their voices a little softer than you'd normally have compared to their guitar. then we'd play that back to them, they'd have earphones on, and they'd sing their parts over, on top of it again. So on every track, you'd have 2 Nicks, 2 Bobs, 2 Daves, except on a solo.

Now, I think I invented that, first with the Four Preps, then the Four Freshmen. It gives a rounder, fuller sound.

Then I went upstairs for balancing and mixing. The recorded levels were all different, so we had to adjust for EQ (equalizing) plus transfer from 3 tracks to 2 tracks. In the sound spectrum on each track, it runs 50 cycles up to 10,000 cycles in width. Say, for instance, that a guitar isn't loud enough. Well, you add volume, but controlled to a certain frequency. so if Nick's guitar was 4000, and his voice track came in at 2000, I might want to bring that up to 3000, so I'd say 'EQ 3000'. The bass is down around 50. If I wanted that up, I'd say 'EQ 200'. You just screw with them individually like that.

Peter Abbott used to engineer the original recording. But remixing I used to do with a guy named Rex Uptegraft.

Usually, we'd do an album in 3 days. I'd remix the whole album in one night. 30 hours to record, 15 hours to mix.

Now, the morning after a session, you tell them you want a 'finished dub', which is just a flat transfer. They run the tape and cut you a lacquer. Then when you send it down to have it mastered for a 'master ref' you may send a note along saying 'Take some off the bottom, the bass is too loud'. then they'd make a master ready to be pressed in the 'cutting room'."


Voyle Gilmore

Artist - Album title (Label & Cat. #)

1954 Frank Sinatra -- "In the Wee Small Hour of the Morning" (Capitol) -- Producer
1957 Frank Sinatra -- "A Swingin' Affair" (Capitol) -- Producer
1957 Frank Sinatra -- "Close to You" (Capitol) -- Producer
1957 Frank Sinatra -- "Come Fly With Me" (Capitol) -- Producer
1958 The Kingston Trio -- "The Kingston Trio" (Capitol) -- Producer
1958 Frank Sinatra -- "Only the Lonely" (Capitol) -- Producer
1959 The Kingston Trio -- ". . . From the Hungry i" (Capitol) -- Producer
1959 The Kingston Trio -- ". . . At Large" (Capitol) -- Producer
1959 The Kingston Trio -- "Here We Go Again" (Capitol) -- Producer
1960 Judy Garland -- "Judy! That's Entertainment" (Capitol) -- Producer
1960 The Kingston Trio -- "Sold Out" (Capitol) -- Producer
1960 The Kingston Trio -- "String Along" (Capitol) -- Producer
1960 The Kingston Trio -- "Last Month of the Year" (Capitol) -- Producer
1961 Frank Sinatra -- "Point of no Return" (Capitol) -- Producer
1961 The Kingston Trio -- "Make Way" (Capitol) -- Producer
1961 The Kingston Trio -- "Goin' Places" (Capitol) -- Producer
1961 The Kingston Trio -- "Close Up" (Capitol) -- Producer
1962 The Kingston Trio -- "College Concert" (Capitol) -- Producer
1962 The Kingston Trio -- "Something Special" (Capitol) -- Producer
1962 The Kingston Trio -- "New Frontier" (Capitol) -- Producer
1962 The Kingston Trio -- "The Best of the Kingston Trio" (Capitol) -- Producer
1963 Dick Dale -- "King of the Surf Guitar" (Capitol) -- Producer
1963 The Kingston Trio -- "#16" (Capitol) -- Producer
1963 The Kingston Trio -- "Sing A Song With The Kingston Trio" (Capitol) -- Producer
1963 The Kingston Trio -- "Sunny Side" (Capitol) -- Producer
1963 The Kingston Trio -- "Time To Think" (Capitol) -- Producer
1964 Al Martino -- "Merry Christmas" (Capitol) -- Producer
1964 The Kingston Trio -- "Back In Town" (Capitol) -- Producer
1965 The Kingston Trio -- "The Best of the Kingston Trio, Vol. 2" (Capitol) -- Producer
1966 The Kingston Trio -- "The Best of the Kingston Trio, Vol. 3" (Capitol) -- Producer
1968 John Stewart -- "Signals Through the Glass" (Capitol) -- Producer
1987 Frank Sinatra -- "Close to You and More" (Capitol (CD reissue)) -- Co-Producer
1987 Frank Sinatra -- "Only the Lonely" (Capitol (CD reissue)) -- Producer
1988 Frank Sinatra -- "Gift Set" (Capitol) -- Producer
1989 Dick Dale -- "King of the Surf Guitar: The Best of Dick Dale" (Capitol) -- Producer
1989 Frank Sinatra -- "Capitol Collectors Series" (Capitol) -- Co-Producer
1989 Four Preps -- "Capitol Collectors Series" (Capitol) -- Co-Producer
1990 The Kingston Trio -- "Capitol Collectors Series" (Capitol) -- Co-Producer
1991 the Four Freshmen -- "Capitol Collectors Series" (Capitol) -- Co-Producer
1991 Frank Sinatra -- "In the Wee Small Hour of the Morning" (Capitol (CD reissue)) -- Producer
1992 Al Martino-- "Capitol Collectors Series" (Capitol) -- Co-Producer
1992 The Kingston Trio -- "The Kingston Trio / . . . From the Hungry i" (Capitol) -- Producer
1992 Frank Sinatra -- "Concepts" (Capitol) -- Producer
1994 Louis Prima -- "Capitol Recordings" (Capitol (CD reissue)) -- Producer
1997 Dick Dale -- "Better Shread Than Dead: The Dick Dale Anthology" (Capitol) -- Producer
1998 Dean Martin -- "Return to Me" (Capitol (CD reissue)) -- Producer
1998 The Four Freshmen -- "Voices in Love/Lost Love" (Capitol (CD reissue)) -- Producer


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Last revised: March 30, 2006.