John Judnich

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Sound Engineer. Born 1938. Died May 5th 2005.

John Judnich began as a recording engineer during the early 1960s for folk acts such as Tim Hardin. In 1964 he designed and built the first ever portable, high-fidelity concert sound system for The Beach Boys. In 1965 he recorded Lenny Bruce's The Berkeley Concert. In 1966 he designed and installed the sound system, and engineered many live sessions, at the Whisky a Go-Go. At this time he was sharing a house in the Hollywood hills with Lenny Bruce and it was Judnich who found Bruce's body.

In 1968 he was one of the founders of Tycobrahe Sound Co., which built a second portable hi-fidelity sound system to Judnich's design for Pinnacle Productions, who were producing concerts at the Shrine Auditorium . By the late 1960s he had built the mixing board at Larrabee Studios where he engineered several sessions for John Mayall. He worked on many concert tours during the early 1970s, with bands from The Beach Boys to Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, plus most of the "second English wave" bands, including Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, ELO, Faces with Rod Stewart, Jethro Tull, Procol Harum and Ten Years After.

I had seen Lenny Bruce a number of times at Canter's Deli, where he used to sit in a front booth with Phil Spector and eat knockwurst. I didn't really talk with him until we opened for him at the Fillmore West in 1966. I met him in the lobby between sets and asked him to sign my draft card. He said no -- he didn't want to touch it.

At that time, Lenny lived with a guy named John Judnich. John earned his living part-time by renting PA systems to local groups. A state-of-the-art system then consisted of two Altec A-7 cabinets powered by a 200-watt amplifier, and no monitor system (they hadn't been invented yet -- the old-school audio wizards had convinced everyone that it was impossible to put a microphone that close to any speaker). Vocalists had no way to hear what they were singing -- they could only hear their voices bouncing off the back wall, from the main PA. We used Judnich's system to perform in the Shrine Exposition Hall (about five thousand seats). Anyway, John used to visit every once in a while, and it was on one of these occasions that he introduced us to "Crazy Jerry."

-The Real Frank Zappa Book

Judnich is referred to in the song "Lenny Valentino" by The Auteurs.

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