Paul Curcio, producer of Metallica’s 'Kill ‘Em All', dead at 74

The legendary producer was best known for his hand in building iconic studios, where artists like Santana, Grateful Dead, Blue Cheer, and of course, Metallica recorded.

                            Paul Curcio, producer of Metallica’s 'Kill ‘Em All', dead at 74

Paul Curcio, the man who produced Metallica's debut album 'Kill ‘Em All', died September 10 at the age of 74. Billboard confirms that the cause of death was heart failure, as revealed by Curcio's daughter, Brianne Curcio-Smith

According to the Billboard report, Brianne said that she knows her father “had some other things in the works” at the time of his death. “Music was in his blood,” she added. “He would never give it up.”

Curcio is best known among rock historians for his handing in building some iconic studios. In 1968, he founded Pacific Recording in San Mateo, California, which served as the recording site for the likes of Santana, Doobie Brothers and the Grateful Dead  - who recorded their classic album 'Aoxomoxoa' there.

A couple of years later, he moved back to his hometown of Rochester, New York, and set up Music America Studios. It was here that Curcio helped mix and master one of the most iconic debut albums in metal history - Metallica's 'Kill Em All', which featured classic hits like 'Seek & Destroy', 'The Four Horsemen' (which shares songwriting credits with a young Dave Mustaine) and 'Jump In The Fire'. The album was ultimately certified 3× Platinum by the RIAA in 1999.

Curcio told Billboard in an interview that Metallica manager Jon “Jonny Z” Zazula chose him because he was willing to book the band at an inexpensive rate, with the project budgeted for approximately $15,000 for 17 days of studio work.

Zazula,  who was also the founder of Megaforce Records and executive producer of 'Kill ‘Em All' revealed the chaotic recording process to the writers of Metallica: The Complete Illustrated History: “He [Curcio] was just mixing Kirk like Carlos Santana…I get there at the end of the album, after being broke from finalizing the recording, and James is all depressed. And Lars has to speak to me, and he says, ‘Jonny, this isn’t heavy enough.’ So we went in and had James redo all the rhythms, with the big, big chunky sound he’s famous for.”

Curcio continued working on titles for Zazula, including the 1984 Blue Cheer reunion album 'The Beast Is Back'.

He relocated Music America to Nashville but closed the studio down in the mid-’90s. He subsequently moved to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, where he managed The Family Stone Experience and remained active in scouting and developing talent into the 2010s.

He is survived by four children, two grandchildren, his sister and his niece. Our thoughts and prayers are with Curcio's family and loved ones.