Keith Olsen

Musician, recording engineer and record producer with ties to Minnesota

Contents:

 

History

Keith Alan Olsen was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on May 12, 1945. His family relocated to Minneapolis when Keith was 12 years old and he developed an interest in classical and pop music at a young age. While in Minnesota, he attended Washburn High and the University of Minnesota.

Keith also had an interest in jazz music and played the upright bass in a number of jazz bands around the university and that led to making contacts with members of the local folk scene. He also worked as an apprentice recording engineer at some of the local studios.

His first professional job as a musician came about when he was hired to play upright bass for Jimmy Rodgers, for an eight week road trip. While on tour, he met a number of national pop and folk musicians, some of whom would go on to have successful careers in the music business.

After that job ended, Keith signed on with Gayle Garnett, a folk singer, who soon had a national hit with “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” in late 1964, which resulted in a two year tour.

As the tour with Gayle Garnett was winding down, the GoldeBriars, a folk – pop band from Minnesota, just happened to be staying at the same motel in Orange County, California, as Garnett and her band.

The road manager for the GoldeBriars was Sean Bonniwell, a folk singer from Charleston, South Carolina, who had left a folk band called the Wayfarers and wanted to start a new rock band. The drummer for the GoldeBriars was Ron Edgar. Keith had previously met Ron and Sean while out on the road.

Keith, Ron and Sean began playing music together and by May of 1965, Ron and Sean had left the GoldeBriars and the trio had a new rock sound and a new name, the Ragamuffins, with Keith making the switch from standup bass to an electric bass guitar.

Eventually, the trio added two new players and became the Music Machine, scoring a national hit with “Talk Talk” in late 1966/early 1967. Unable to come up with a follow-up hit, the band soon broke up.

During that time period, Keith had met up with Curt Boettcher, leader of the GoldeBriars. Keith had met Curt in Minnesota. After the GoldeBriars came to end, Curt had produced the first two albums by the Association. Keith and Curt teamed up for a new venture called Together Records and Our Productions. As co-producers, they had success with a number of artists, including the Byrds and Simon and Garfunkel.

In 1968, Keith and Curt produced the first album recorded in the United States on a sixteen-track machine, (two eight-tracks synced up). The album (“Begin”) was by a studio group called the Millennium and released on the Columbia label. The record did not find commercial success, however it is now considered to be a creative masterpiece and is likely one of the greatest “little known” albums of all time. Eventually, Keith and Curt parted ways.

In 1973, Keith started his own company, Pogologo Productions, and released his first album “Buckingham – Nicks” (Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks). Over the next twenty-five years, Keith would produce over 120 albums with thirty-nine gold albums, twenty-four platinum albums, and fourteen multi-platinum albums. Total album sales exceed 125 million units, with over 1 billion dollars in retail sales.

A partial list of albums produced by Keith includes the following artists:

Ozzy Osbourne; Fleetwood Mac; Kim Carnes; Starship; Rick Springfield; Kingdom Come; the Grateful Dead; Santana; Pat Benatar; Foreigner; Joe Walsh; Doctor John; the Tubes; Night Ranger; Sammy Hagar; Heart; Lynch Mob; the Babys; Whitesnake; Russell Hitchcock; the Scorpions; Sons of Champlin; Warrant; Bad Company; Alice Cooper; Geronimo Black; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; the James Gang; and Eddie Money.

He is also the producer of some of the highest selling soundtrack albums of all time including Flashdance, Footloose, and Vision Quest.

According to his website, the last musical project produced by Keith was a single recorded by Alexandra in April, 2016.

You can read more about Keith on this website on the pages for the GoldeBriars and the Music Machine.

Update:

Keith Olsen passed at the age of 74 on March 9, 2020. He was living in Genoa, Nevada at the time of his passing. Genoa is located just east of Lake Tahoe. A family member reports that Keith passed due to cardiac arrest.

Tom Campbell  May 1, 2020

 

Photos  (Click a photo to see it full-screen, then click the arrows to see the next one.)

Keith Olsen

 

ALBUMS PRODUCED BY KEITH OLSEN: 

 

1968: Dr. John “Gris – Gris” (engineer)

1968: Eternity’s Children “Eternity’s Children” (with Curt Boettcher)

1968: The Millennium “Begin” (with Curt Boettcher)

1972: James Gang “Passin’ Thru”

1973: Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks “Buckingham Nicks”

1975: Fleetwood Mac “Fleetwood Mac”

1976: Sons of Champlin “A Circle Filled With Love”

1977: Grateful Dead “Terrapin Station”

1978: Bob Weir “Heaven Help the Fool”

1978: Foreigner “Double Vision”

1979: Fleetwood Mac “Tusk”

1979: Santana “Marathon”

1980: The Babys “Union Jacks”

1980: Pat Benatar “Crimes of Passion”

1981: Rick Springfield “Working Class Dog”

1981: Santana “Zebop”

1981: Pat Benatar “Precious Time”

1982: Sammy Hagar “Standing Hampton”

1982: Rick Springfield “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet”

1983: Heart “Passionworks”

1983: Kim Carnes “Café Racers”

1985: Joe Walsh “The Confessor”

1986: 38 Special “Strength in Numbers’

1986: Bad Company “Fame and Fortune”

1987: Saga “Wildest Dreams”

1987: Whitesnake “Whitesnake”

1987: Starship “No Protection”

1987: Carlos Santana “Blues for Salvador”

1988: Rick Springfield “Rock of Life”

1988: Ozzy Osbourne “No Rest for the Wicked”

1988: Night Ranger “Man in Motion”

1989: Whitesnake: “Slip of the Tongue”

1989: Kingdom Come “In Your Face”

1990: Magnum “Goodnight L.A.”

1990: Scorpions “Crazy World”

1991: Eddie Money “Right Here”

1994: Emerson, Lake & Palmer “In the Hot Seat”

1996: Scorpions “Pure Instinct”