I was working with Tom Dowd and Rod Stewart in Canada for about a week when Rod decided to go back to LA. Tom was apologetic about cutting short the planned two week stint, but he said he was in a bind as he was supposed to be with Skynyrd at the same time. Dowd asked me to go down to Atlanta to sort of "hang" with the guys for a week until he got there...I was to be his representative.
When I arrived, Ronnie Van Zant and all of the band were very disappointed
with what they had already recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami with Dowd as producer...the whole album
was already recorded! I called Dowd the first night to explain the situation and he said "OK, so cut
some tracks if they want already." I also found that the band already had two
engineers including Rodney Mills. So I didn't know exactly what I was doing there.
I think, I was viewed as the bad-ass guy from Hollywood who wore a fedora (popular
in 1977) and would (supposedly) "whip" these boys into shape or something. I may have earned some respect since I had recently finished recording and mixing a Waylon Jennings album called "Are You Ready For The Country?" I knew Ronnie was a big fan of both Waylon and Merle Haggard for their songs, voices and "outlaw" images.
So I, along with Rodney Mills, managed, over the course of a pretty sleepless week,
to record four songs completely, except for backing vocals and brass overdubs. Those
recordings were to become part of the "Street Survivors" album. They are:
"What's Your Name," "You Got That Right," "That Smell" (for which I used the Eagles "Hotel California" as a production prototype since both songs talked about death, decadence and drugs....BTW, I'm quite proud of the guitar production) and the Merle Haggard song "Honky Tonk Night Time Man". I got a special engineering credit on that record which ended up selling more than three million copies. I have a rare copy of the original album with the original cover photo of the band standing in the streets engulfed in flames.