Hugh Padgham

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Hugh Padgham
Birth nameHugh Charles Padgham
Born (1955-02-15) 15 February 1955 (age 66) [1]
Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England
  • Record producer
  • engineer
Years active1978–present
Associated acts

Hugh Charles Padgham (born 15 February 1955) is an English record producer and audio engineer. He has won four Grammy Awards, for Producer of the Year and Album of the Year for 1985, Record of the Year for 1990, and Engineer of the Year for 1993. A 1992 poll in Mix magazine voted him one of the world's "Top Ten Most Influential Producers". Padgham's co-productions include hits by Phil Collins, XTC, Genesis, the Human League, Sting, and the Police. He pioneered (with Peter Gabriel and producer Steve Lillywhite) the "gated reverb" drum sound used most famously in Collins' song "In the Air Tonight". [2]


Early life

Padgham was born on 15 February 1955 in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. He was educated at St Edward's School, Oxford. [3]


Padgham became interested in record production after listening to Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection . [4] He started out as a tape operator at Advision Studios, working on many recording sessions including Mott The Hoople and Gentle Giant. From there he went to Lansdowne Studios and moved from tape-operator/assistant engineer to engineer. In 1978, Padgham got a job at The Townhouse, where he engineered and/or produced acts including XTC, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. He also worked on the second album by Killing Joke. [5]

Padgham's previous work with Gabriel and Collins led to a collaboration with Genesis and Phil Collins in the 1980s, which produced the albums: Face Value , Abacab , Hello, I Must Be Going! , Genesis , No Jacket Required , Invisible Touch and ...But Seriously . In addition to his work with Genesis and XTC, Padgham co-produced two albums with the Police: Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity , as well as some of Police frontman Sting's solo work. He also worked on Paul McCartney's Press to Play and The Human League's Hysteria .

In the 2000s, Padgham worked with Sting as well as McFly. He had four UK number one hits in 2005 and 2006 with McFly, as well as a number of other Top Ten Singles. In 2002, Padgham produced the Tragically Hip album In Violet Light .

The "gated drum" sound

Padgham is credited with creating the "gated reverb" drum sound used so prominently on Phil Collins' single "In the Air Tonight", and which became the template for much of the recorded pop drum sound of the 1980s. The effect is believed to have first been used on the 1980 third self-titled solo album by Peter Gabriel, which Padgham engineered and on which Collins played. At this time, Padgham was working regularly as the recording engineer for noted UK producer Steve Lillywhite, and they collaborated on many well-known albums and singles in the early 1980s.

Padgham's gated drum effect is created by adding a large amount of heavily compressed room ambience to the original drum sound, and then feeding that reverb signal through an electronic device known as a noise gate. This unit can be programmed to cut off any signal fed through it, either after a specified time interval (in this case, some tens of milliseconds), or when the incoming signal falls below a preset gain threshold. The result is the arresting 'gated reverb' effect, in which the reverberation cuts off abruptly, rather than fading away.

In a 2006 interview, Padgham revealed how the effect was first engineered:

The whole thing came through the famous "listen mic" on the SSL console. The SSL had put this massive compressor on it because the whole idea was to hang one mic in the middle of the studio and hear somebody talking on the other side. And it just so happened that we turned it on one day when Phil [Collins] was playing his drums. And then I had the idea of feeding that back into the console and putting the noise gate on, so when he stopped playing it sucked the big sound of the room into nothing.

In 2019, Hugh Padgham was honored in London with The MPG Award For Outstanding Contribution To UK Music. The surprise presenters for the evening for Hugh was his dear friend, Peter Gabriel, and the CEO of PPL, Peter Leathem. The 11th MPG Awards featured a total of 16 award categories, each designed to recognise and celebrate the best and brightest talent in music production, along with the industry’s rising stars.

Hugh is one of the owners of indie label, Gearbox Records. Founded in 2009, Gearbox has already established a strong catalogue of work from previously unreleased archive jazz to contemporary artists including alternative jazz, folk and electronic genres. Music is available around the world through a global physical distribution network, its own online music store, and most of the digital streaming platforms.


Artists for whom Padgham has produced or engineered include:


Grammy Awards

Year AwardedNominee/workCategoryResultRef.
1984 Synchronicity (The Police) Album of the Year (shared with The Police)Nominated [6] [7]
"Every Breath You Take" (The Police) Record of the Year (shared with The Police)Nominated
1986 No Jacket Required (Phil Collins) Album of the Year (shared with Phil Collins)Won [8]
Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) (shared with Phil Collins)Won
1991 ...But Seriously (Phil Collins) Album of the Year (shared with Phil Collins)Nominated [9]
Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) (shared with Phil Collins)Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical Nominated
"Another Day in Paradise" (Phil Collins) Record of the Year (shared with Phil Collins)Won
1994 Ten Summoner's Tales (Sting) Album of the Year (shared with Sting)Nominated [10]
Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical Won
"If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" (Sting) Record of the Year (shared with Sting)Nominated
1997 Mercury Falling (Sting) Best Pop Album (shared with Sting)Nominated [11]

Brit Awards

Year AwardedNominee/workCategoryResultRef.
1986 No Jacket Required (Phil Collins) British Producer Nominated [12] [13] [14]
1987 Invisible Touch (Genesis)Nominated [15]


Year AwardedNomineeCategoryResultRef.
2009 Himself Gold Badge Award Won

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Gated reverb or gated ambience is an audio processing technique that combines strong reverb and a noise gate. The effect is often associated with the sound of 1980s popular music. It was developed in 1979 by engineer Hugh Padgham and producer Steve Lillywhite while working with the artists XTC, Peter Gabriel, and Phil Collins at Townhouse Studios in London, and is most famously demonstrated in Collins's 1981 single "In the Air Tonight".

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  1. Hugh Padgham, Esq Authorised Biography – Debrett’s People of Today, Hugh Padgham, Esq Profile Archived 21 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Howell, Steve (March 2005). "Q. How do I set up a gated reverb?". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  3. Holmes, Thom (2013). The Routledge Guide to Music Technology. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. p. 223. ISBN   9781135477806 . Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  4. Interview with Hugh Padgham. BBC Radio 2. "The Record Producers". 9 April 2007
  5. Hämäläinen, Jyrki "Spider" (2020). Killing Joke: Are You Receiving?, p. 43-44. Milton Keynes: New Haven Publishing. ISBN   978-1912587407.
  6. "Hugh Padgham - Artist -". Grammy Award . Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  7. "Grammy Awards 1984". Awards & shows. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  8. "Grammy Awards 1986". Awards & shows. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  9. "Grammys--Round 1 : Pop music: Phil Collins' 8 nominations lead the pack and Quincy Jones sets a record with his 74th nod. The winners will be revealed on Feb. 20". Desert News. 12 January 1991. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  10. "HUNDREDS NOMINATED FOR GRAMMYS". Desert News. 10 January 1994. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  11. "THE 39TH ANNUAL GRAMMY NOMINATIONS". Los Angeles Times . 8 January 1997. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  12. "Hugh Padgham". Brit Awards . Archived from the original on 14 August 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  13. "Brit Awards - 1986 - Winners & Nominees". Awards & Winners. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  14. "Hugh Padgham - Legendary record producer". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  15. "Brit Awards - 1987 - Winners & Nominees". Awards & Winners. Retrieved 18 March 2018.

Further reading