Rolling Stone reports that the producer’s cause of death was a heart attack after years of dementia. The magazine spoke with Mazer’s sister, Bonnie, who remembered her brother as a man who “loved music.” “He loved what he did; he was a perfectionist. Everybody has so much respect for him, and he’s been suffering for a couple years.”
Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Mazer’s music life began at the jazz label Prestige Records. He’d parlay that role into a position at Cameo-Parkway, an independent label where he worked on albums by Chubby Checker and Big Brother and the Holding Company. In 1970 he produced Ronstadt’s second LP, Silk Purse.
Shortly thereafter he’d move to Nashville where he’d co-found Quadrafonic Sound Studios. In 1971 Mazer hosted a dinner party and Young, who was in town for an appearance on The Johnny Cash Show, was one of the attendees. “We had around 50 people for dinner,” Mazer recalled in a 2001 conversation with Mix. “During dinner, Elliot [Roberts, Young’s manager] introduced me to Neil, and we started talking about studios and musicians.”
Mazer was quickly enlisted to produce Harvest, Young’s legendary 1972 album. Guests on the LP included Ronstadt, James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills. A combination of country and rock, the LP spawned such iconic songs as “Old Man” and “Heart of Gold.” The album was certified four times platinum in the U.S. and remains Young’s most commercially successful release.
Further work alongside the rock giant included 1973’s live LP Time Fades Away, 1983’s Everybody’s Rockin’ and 1985’s Old Ways. Mazer also produced Homegrown, the album recorded in 1975 but famously shelved until its 2020 release.
Beyond his work with Young, Mazer recorded many notable live albums, including Janis Joplin’s Joplin In Concert, Gordon Lightfoot’s Sunday Concert and the Band’s famous farewell performance, The Last Waltz.
“I love live recording, whether it is on-stage or in a studio,” the producer explained to Shadowplays.com in 2011, noting that he spent the latter part of his career teaching at various universities. “I love the idea of passing my experiences and knowledge onto students.”