Anthony Edward "Tony" Visconti (born April 24, 1944) is an American record producer, musician and singer. Since the late 1960s, he has worked with an array of performers. His lengthiest involvement with any artist is with David Bowie: intermittently from Bowie's second album in 1969 to the 2016 release Blackstar, Visconti produced and occasionally performed on many of Bowie's albums.
Visconti was born in Brooklyn, New York. He started to play the ukulele when he was five years old, and then learned guitar. He attended New Utrecht High School. Throughout his teenage years Visconti was involved with both a classical brass band (playing tuba) and a traditional orchestra (playing double bass), as well as playing rock 'n' roll-oriented guitar, valuable experience which served him well in later years. By the age of 15 he focused his efforts playing in local Brooklyn bands.
After leaving school he played guitar in a band called Ricardo & the Latineers in the Catskills; the band also included Artie Butler, later a leading arranger. In 1960 he played his first recording session, and over the next few years became one of the leading guitarists in New York nightclubs. He played in lounge acts including the Ned Harvey band, and the Speedy Garfin Band, before joining a touring version of The Crew-Cuts, where he met his future wife. As Tony and Siegrid, the pair released two singles; the first, "Long Hair", was a regional hit in New York in 1966, but they could not maintain its success.
Visconti then became in-house producer for his publisher, the Richmond Organization. Through this, he met British producer Denny Cordell in 1968 while he was working as Richmond's in-house music producer. Cordell asked him to assist in recordings for successful jazz vocalist Georgie Fame. Visconti moved to London—in a move that would soon become career-defining.
One of his first production projects in England was with the Welsh group The Iveys (later known as Badfinger). He produced several tracks for the band's first LP Maybe Tomorrow, released on The Beatles' Apple label. The title track from this album was released as a single. More early production work on the album My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows for the British outfit Tyrannosaurus Rex (later to become T. Rex) began a relationship with T. Rex that would last for their next seven albums. One of Visconti's greatest successes was Electric Warrior, the album that made T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan a superstar and cemented Visconti's producing prowess. He produced the first two albums by influential progressive rock band Gentle Giant. Shortly afterwards, Visconti began to work with David Bowie and, along with guitarist Mick Ronson and drummer John Cambridge, formed and toured with the band The Hype in which he played bass. Although the band name would be very short-lived, the line-up persisted and would go on to record the seminal album and single The Man Who Sold the World in 1970. He would further go on to work on the albums Diamond Dogs (1974), Young Americans (1975), Low (1977), "Heroes" (1977), Lodger (1979), Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1980), Heathen (2002), Reality (2003), The Next Day (2013) and Blackstar (2016).
He did orchestral arrangements (but not the production) for Paul McCartney and Wings' 1973 album Band on the Run.
Visconti would produce two full albums for the Moody Blues, The Other Side of Life (1986), and Sur La Mer (1988).
In 1990, he produced several tracks on the Moody Blues' Keys of the Kingdom album (1991), Luscious Jackson's Electric Honey, Leisure Noise by Gay Dad, Soul Caddy for Cherry Poppin' Daddies and Dawn of Ananda for Annie Haslam. In 1997, Visconti produced the debut album of The Stone Roses member John Squire's new band, The Seahorses entitled Do It Yourself. In the 2000s (decade), Visconti renewed his association with David Bowie, producing the albums Heathen in 2002, and Reality in 2003. These two albums hark back to his Berlin production work with Bowie.
He produced and played bass on a handful of tracks from The Dandy Warhols 2003 album Welcome to the Monkey House. In 2003 he teamed up with the Finn Brothers (Neil and Tim of Crowded House and Split Enz fame) to record and produce their second collaborative album, eventually released in 2004. In 2004, he produced three songs on the Manic Street Preachers album Lifeblood. In 2005, he collaborated with Copenhagen band Kashmir, whose fifth album, No Balance Palace, featured David Bowie. He has also collaborated as co-writer and producer on the album project by Richard Barone. He worked in Rome and produced the #1 UK album by Morrissey, Ringleader of the Tormentors.
His autobiography, Bowie, Bolan and The Brooklyn Boy, was published in February 2007 by Harper Collins UK. The imported soft cover version is now available in the United States. The book has been translated into French by Jérôme Soligny as Tony Visconti Bowie, Bolan et le Gamin de Brooklyn, published by Tournon.
In 2007 and 2008, Visconti was very active in the studio with Benin singer Angélique Kidjo, producing her Grammy-winning album Djin Djin (Razor & Tie). Guests artists include Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Joss Stone, Josh Groban and Carlos Santana. He has also produced two albums at Saint Claire Recording Studio in Lexington, Kentucky: The Bright Lights of America (RCA) by Pittsburgh punk band Anti-Flag and an album by Alejandro Escovedo called Real Animal (Manhattan Records) released in June 2008. He produced the new No. 1 album (in France) by French artist Raphael in Paris and New York. He produced and mixed Kristeen Young album Music for Strippers, Hookers, and the Odd On-Looker, released in 2009 and arranged Fall Out Boy album Folie à Deux. 2010 marked the release of Richard Barone's Visconti-produced Glow album, which includes five songs co-written with Barone and a remake of T. Rex's Girl. He also played bass, guitar, synth, and Stylophone on the album and performed live in concert with Barone on numerous occasions.
Visconti produced the David Bowie album, The Next Day, and remixed and remastered both The Slider anniversary box set (Demon UK) and Electric Warrior 40th anniversary boxed set (Universal UK) by T. Rex. In 2013, he produced Solar Secrets by Capsula.
In 2014 Visconti produced and arranged several tracks on Marc Almond's album The Dancing Marquis. Almond has wanted to work with Visconti since hearing some of Visconti's earliest production work with T-Rex and David Bowie, stating "It was a dream to work with Tony".
Visconti produced Bowie's final album, Blackstar, released on January 8, 2016.
After divorcing his first wife Siegrid, Visconti married Mary Hopkin in 1971 before divorcing in 1981. The pair have two children, musicians Jessica Lee Morgan and Morgan Visconti. He married for a third time, in 1989, to May Pang, with whom he had two children, Sebastian and Lara, before divorcing in 2000.
Visconti played bass on David Bowie's 1970 album The Man Who Sold the World. In 2015 and 2016 he toured the UK, Japan and the East Coast of the USA with the Bowie tribute band Holy Holy, playing the album in its entirety and other early Bowie classics, along with the album's original drummer Woody Woodmansey and other well known musicians.
With T. Rex
1968: My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows – Tyrannosaurus Rex
1968: Prophets, Seers & Sages: The Angels of the Ages – Tyrannosaurus Rex
1969: Unicorn – Tyrannosaurus Rex
1970: A Beard of Stars – Tyrannosaurus Rex
1970: T. Rex
1971: Electric Warrior
1972: Bolan Boogie
1972: The Slider
1974: Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow
1981: In Concert – (1971/72 recordings)
With David Bowie
1969: David Bowie
1970: The Man Who Sold the World
1974: David Live
1975: Young Americans
1980: Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
2013: The Next Day
With other artists
1969: Battersea Power Station – Junior's Eyes
1969: Maybe Tomorrow – The Iveys
1970: Dragonfly – Strawbs
1970: Gentle Giant – Gentle Giant
1970: Magic Christian Music – Badfinger
1970: Seasons – Magna Carta
1970: Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios (live) – Strawbs
1971: Acquiring the Taste – Gentle Giant
1971: Woman Child – Marsha Hunt
1971: Earth Song, Ocean Song – Mary Hopkin
1971: Osibisa – Osibisa
1971: From the Witchwood – Strawbs
1971: Woyaya – Osibisa
1972: "Not till Tomorrow" - Ralph McTell
1972: Peace Will Come – Tom Paxton
1972: Grave New World – Strawbs
1972: Not Till Tomorrow – Ralph McTell
1973: Easy – Ralph McTell
1973: Gas Works – Gas Works
1973: Fandangos in Space – Carmen
1973: New Songs For Old Friends (live) – Tom Paxton
1973: World's Apart Together – The Sarstedt Brothers
1974: "Easy" - Ralph McTell
1974: Dancing on a Cold Wind – Carmen
1975: Indiscreet – Sparks
1975: Counterpoints – Argent
1977: Better by Far – Caravan
1977: The Idiot – Iggy Pop
1977: Come Hell or Waters High – Omaha Sheriff
1977: Long Fingers in the Soft Rain – Omaha Sheriff
1977: Bad Reputation – Thin Lizzy
1978: Down in the Bunker – Steve Gibbons
1978: Live and Dangerous – Thin Lizzy
1979: Black Rose – Thin Lizzy
1979: Rhapsodies – Rick Wakeman
1979: Ghostown – The Radiators
1980: Breaking Glass – Hazel O'Connor
1980: Mondo Bongo – Boomtown Rats
1980: Ashes and Diamonds – Zaine Griff
1981: Afraid of Mice – Afraid of Mice
1981: La folie – The Stranglers
1981: Cover Plus – Hazel O'Connor
1982: V Deep – Boomtown Rats
1982: Animation – Jon Anderson
1982: All of a Sudden – John Hiatt
1983: Stages – Elaine Paige
1983: Trick of the Light – Modern Romance
1983: Bite – Altered Images
1984: Difford & Tilbrook – Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook
1984: Cinema – Elaine Paige
1985: Vive Le Rock – Adam Ant
1985: Love Hurts – Elaine Paige
1985: Burn It! – Modern Romance
1986: Christmas – Elaine Paige
1986: The No Comprendo – Les Rita Mitsouko
1986: The Other Side of Life – The Moody Blues
1988: Marc & Robert – Rita Mitsouko
1988: Sur la Mer – The Moody Blues
1989: Change - The Alarm
1990: Electric Angels – Electric Angels
1993: Elle et Louis – Louis Bertignac
1995: Whatever Makes You Happy – The Dwellers
1997: Do It Yourself – The Seahorses
1997: Plagiarism – Sparks
2001: The Gunman and Other Stories – Prefab Sprout
2001: ¡Viva Nueva! – Rustic Overtones
2003: Stage One – Marizane
2003: Breasticles – Kristeen Young
2003: L'Avventura – Dean & Britta
2004: Beyond Elysian Fields – Hugh Cornwell
2004: Lifeblood – Manic Street Preachers
2004: X – Kristeen Young
2005: No Balance Palace – Kashmir
2006: Ringleader of the Tormentors – Morrissey
2006: The Orphans – Kristeen Young
2007: Djin Djin – Angélique Kidjo
2007: Back Numbers – Dean & Britta
2008: The Bright Lights of America – Anti-Flag
2008: Real Animal – Alejandro Escovedo
2009: Music for Strippers, Hookers, and the Odd On-Looker – Kristeen Young