The phrase “super-producer” is often used when discussing Bob Ezrin – and with good reason. After all, the Toronto native has been behind the boards of many classic albums, among them Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies, KISS’ Destroyer, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. He has also done much to help preserve music education in Canada in the face of devastating government funding cuts.
Bob Ezrin was born March 25, 1949, into a musical Toronto family in which his mother played piano and his father, bass. Ezrin’s grandfather, a musical theatre amateur, taught him to dance to Al Jolson’s “Me and My Shadow” when Ezrin was just two.
Ezrin went on to learn classical piano at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and spent off-hours as a teen taking in the likes of Joni Mitchell at his uncle’s music club, The Penny Farthing in the mid-‘60s.
At age 19 he was taken under the wing of The Guess Who producer Jack Richardson who sent him to fellow producer Phil Ramone’s Eastman School of Music “boot camp” in Rochester, New York. Upon his return, Richardson sent Ezrin to New York to check out shock rocker Alice Cooper, whose manager Shep Gordon was insistent Richardson produce them. Ezrin was blown away by Cooper’s performance at Max’s Kansas City and ended up co-producing the band’s 1971 album Love It to Death with the initially reluctant Richardson. Ezrin would go on to work with Cooper multiple times, including on his most recent record, 2011’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare.
Ezrin would also bring Cooper fans KISS into the mainstream by producing their 1976 breakthrough album Destroyer. Key to that success was the ballad “Beth,” which he co-wrote with drummer Peter Criss. That song opened KISS up to a female audience, and, at double platinum, Destroyer remains the biggest-selling record of the band’s career.
More recently Ezrin has worked with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Peter Gabriel, Phish, Fefe Dobson, and The Canadian Tenors.
Ezrin is also an entrepreneur who has been involved in a number of different business ventures. His software company 7th Level produced a series of popular Monty Python CD-ROM games in the ‘90s, and he is the co-founder of Beat Kangz, a hip-hop instrument company best known for producing the Beat Thang drum machine. He also co-produced Jay-Z’s 2004 concert film Fade to Black.
Ezrin is also an ardent philanthropist. He produced Young Artists for Haiti’s take on the K’naan song, “Wavin’ Flag,” with all proceeds going towards charities to help the people of Haiti in the wake of an earthquake that devastated the island in early 2010. The song, which included Drake and Nelly Furtado, ended up winning the 2011 JUNO for Single of the Year and raised over $2-million.
Ezrin’s commitment to music education in Canada is also well known. He took the opportunity of his induction by Alice Cooper into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame during the 2004 JUNO Awards broadcast to decry the defunding of music education in Canadian public schools, and, in 2009, co-founded the Nimbus School of Recording & Media in Vancouver, B.C. Ezrin is also a former advisory committee member of MusicCounts, the music education charity associated with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).