record producer and executive from London
, who died in 1980
. He was a figure in Britain's rhythm and blues
boom of the early 1960s
for his world-class record collection alone. He had an almost encyclopedic
knowledge of the music - if a band (the Rolling Stones
, for instance) needed some cool cover song
s to do, they'd check out Guy's 45
s or pick his brain.
Stevens started working for Island Records in its early days, first handling Island's Sue Records blues/R&B label; later, he would be a catalyst in bringing together lyricist Keith Reid and some local R&B vets: Procol Harum, who would name themselves after Guy's cat - but "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (legend has it that the phrase came from Guy) and Procol's first successes came roughly around the time he was in prison on drugs charges.
In the latter part of the decade, he came up with a concept for a band - something Dylanesque, pastoral rock from his Woodstock period with The Band, but also with a British flavor to it and a Stonesy core. Armed with only a name from a book title - Mott, the Hoople - he assembled the musicians: guitarist Mick Ralphs, a rhythm section, then, after some false starts, a singer - Ian Hunter. It was cool stuff, but Mott would only approach commercial success in its post-Stevens years, with David Bowie's "All the Young Dudes".
Other Island signings: Spooky Tooth, and Free, of "All Right Now" fame - though he almost blew that one by insisting they change their name.
His last production gig was probably his most successful: The Clash's London Calling; Stevens was, perhaps, the perfect man to helm the band's move from punk to American roots musics, like the pseudo-rockabilly of "Brand New Cadillac" and the soul shuffle of "Train in Vain", which gave them their first US hit.
One of those "they broke the mold" individuals; missed by many.