An Exclusive Interview with:

American producer John Ryan has been involved in numerous classic rock albums, most notably such acts as Styx and Santana. He also worked on a Robin George LP "Dangerous Music", in 1985. In the mid '70s he produced one of my favorite LPs of the decade, the overlooked "Sun And Steel" album by IRON BUTTERFLY. Thanks to John, as we did this Q & A a few weeks back. Sadly, since then Eric Braunn, who was the leading writer, singer and guitarist Iron Butterfly at the time passed away. Check out the 'Chicago Kid's' site [see link below] and check out:



KJ:  How did you wind up producing what would become "Sun & Steel" by Iron Butterfly?


KJ: Were you familiar with the band's previous recordings and what did you think of the new version of the band, baring in mind it only included 2 of the original members [Braunn and Bushy]?

[CHICAGO KID]  Sure ..didn't give it any thought.


KJ:  The band became legendary with 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida'. What was the concensus or direction of where the band wanted to go with their sound in '75?

[CHICAGO KID]  I had played the big cut in radio in Chicago...we were just after the best possible record with the lineup we had. 


KJ:  What did you think of the bandmembers > Ron Bushy, Phil Kramer, Bill deMartines and Erik Braunn?  Does anything stand out or did you get along with any of them in particular or see any potential stars?

[CHICAGO KID]  Good guys. 


KJ: Erik Braunn wrote and sang most of the album's songs. What did you think of him as a songwriter, singer and guitarist? Are you surprised he never made a name for himself beyond IB?

[CHICAGO KID]  Not really. 


KJ:  Phil Kramer also wrote a couple of songs and sang, in particular 'Lightin' and 'I'm Right, I'm Wrong'. what do you recall of Phil as a singer and songwriter, and how was he to work with?

[CHICAGO KID]   Fine, laid back. 


KJ:  'Sun & Steel' was a fairly heavy album, much in the vein of classic Uriah Heep and Deep Purple. Is that a fair comparison? Were you [as producer] happy withy the album?

[CHICAGO KID]   Yes, it was cool.  It would have been nice to work with all the main original guys.  Ingle was missing.

KJ:  What do you recall of the songs? I love the intro on 'I'm Right, I'm Wrong' [great song!], as well I like the title track, and the 2 ballads [particularly 'Watch The World go By'], and 'scion' [which reminds me a lot of Uriah Heep's 'Gypsy']. Any comments or recall on these or other tracks from the album?

[CHICAGO KID]  Thank you, I tried to make as musical an album as possible, but still keep the edge.  deMartines had strong melody instincts for ballads

KJ:  Was there any tracks recorded but not used for the released album? [anything].

[CHICAGO KID]  Honestly don't recall. 


KJ:  How well did the album do [that you know of]? I gather it wasn't a huge success. were you disappointed or surprised by it's lack of commercial success?  Was there much help from MCA with supporting it?

[CHICAGO KID]  Band lacked powerful management, which would have helped,  didn't aggressively tour.  MCA had changes going on, as I recall, many bigger acts to work.


KJ:  Did you have any contact or work with any of the Butterfly guys beyond Sun & Steel?



KJ:  You also produced 3 of the first 4 Styx LPs. What can you recall of working with that band early on? what did you think of them and those early LPs?

[CHICAGO KID]  We were learning as we went, my musical/radio background helped them shape their sound.  Lady was written and recorded in space of a couple days after I heard Dennis DeYoung tinkling it on piano, worked out pretty well.


KJ:  What have been your best and biggest selling productions? And what are you currently up to?



Interview: ŠKevin J. Julie (Universal Wheels) July '03