Close ☰
Menu ☰

Bil VornDick: a life remembered

Posted on: Tuesday 19th of July 2022

Music Row veteran Bil VornDick died on Tuesday (July 5) at age 72, less than a week after he’d been diagnosed with cancer.

He was a producer/engineer who was renowned for his recording-studio skills, particularly in folk, bluegrass, Americana and acoustic-music circles. VornDick worked on albums that earned more than 40 Grammy nominations and nine wins. 
His clients included Alison Krauss, Doc Watson and Charlie McCoy. He had served two terms as the chairman of the Nashville chapter of Audio Engineering Society (AES).

Born William Thomas VornDick, he was raised in northern Virginia (Arlington and Great Falls). Growing up he was active in the 4H club, and he was also drum major of the high school marching band at Herndon High School. Voted “most creative” and “most talented” by the senior class, he also was the first-chair soloist for four years on trumpet in high school. While still a student and playing guitar in rock bands in Virginia, he sold some songs to Cedarwood Publishing on Music Row. Chet Atkins urged him to move to Nashville and helped him enroll in Belmont University. Prior to moving to Nashville, Bil also worked at the Washington Star Newspaper in DC, where he met his wife Patricia, in the engraving department in the early 1970s.

In 1979, he became an early graduate of Belmont’s music-business program. Country superstar Marty Robbins heard him working on demos for Loretta Lynn’s publishing company and hired him as his studio’s chief engineer. VornDick subsequently became the chief engineer at Stargem Studio, the founder of The Music Shop and the owner of Music Row Audio and Mountainside Music Group Productions.

He became particularly associated with the “new acoustic music” genre that emerged in the 1980s. He worked with Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Craig Duncan, Alison Brown, Mark O’Connor, Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Edgar Meyer and David Grier, among others. Prior to his passing, he completed his 105th album with Craig Duncan.

Following his Grammy-winning work with Alison Krauss, he worked with a bluegrass who’s-who, including Peter Rowan, The Dillards, The Country Gentlemen, New Grass Revival, The Nashville Bluegrass Band, Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson, Claire Lynch, Rhonda Vincent, The Earls of Leicester, Dan Tyminski, Laurie Lewis, Larry Cordle, The New Coon Creek Girls and IIIrd Tyme Out.
He also had credits with mainstream Nashville country artists. VornDick worked on records by Lynn Anderson, Trace Adkins, Jo-El Sonnier, Janie Fricke, Marty Stuart, Gene Watson, Asleep at the Wheel, Jimmy C. Newman and Sweethearts of the Rodeo, in addition to Robbins.

Bil VornDick was an active participant in the Nashville music community. He did advisory and/or instructional work for MTSU, Belmont, Folk Alliance International, the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing, MerleFest, Telluride, South Plains College, Audio Engineering Society (AES), Kerrville Folk Festival, Vol State and more. He campaigned to save RCA Studio A from demolition, promoted popularity charts for roots music and championed health insurance for music people.

In recent years, he became widely admired in the Americana field. That genre’s Jim Lauderdale, Maura O’Connell, T-Bone Burnett, Jesse Winchester, The Fairfield Four, John McEuen, Leon Redbone, Robert Earl Keen, Webb Wilder, Robin & Linda Williams, Hazel Dickens and Charlie Haden all worked with him.In 1998, he produced the epic Clinch Mountain Country, a 36-song tribute that featured legendary Ralph Stanley dueting with Bob Dylan, Vince Gill, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, Porter Wagoner, Ricky Skaggs, Connie Smith, the Kentucky HeadHunters, Diamond Rio, Joe Diffie, George Jones, Vern Gosdin, John Anderson, Hal Ketchum, Gillian Welch, BR549, Junior Brown and more. It was named Rolling Stone’s Top Country Album of the Year, got nominated for a Grammy and earned two trophies from the IBMA.

Bil VornDick was cherished for his personality as well as his studio skills. He was invariably kind, wise, welcoming, gentle and generous. A loving husband and father, he is survived by his wife Patricia, children Brittney and Wilson, five grandchildren and his sister Barbara and her family.
Bil was an International Advisory Council Member for the Playing For Change Foundation, a founder of the Nashville AES Legends in the Round and was working as the founder/chair for the International Entertainment Industry Education Exchange Program (IEIEEP) a United Nations and UNESCO partnership for the exchange of students and professors for worldwide education on Intellectual Property Rights for music, film, art, literature and software. Additionally, Bil was instrumental in the creation of the annual AudioMasters Benefit Golf Tournament, the primary fund-raising event contributing to the Nashville Engineer Relief Fund (NERF), which was designed to assist members of the greater Nashville audio community in times of personal or family crisis. He was also an advocate for intellectual property rights for audio engineers. Two little-known facts about Bil are that he was also a Boy Scout Leader for Troop 87, as well as a 33rd-degree Mason and a Shriner.

A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Bil’s name to either NERF or MusiCares.

Latest News & Blog articles

  • German studio specialist Neumann.Berlin and Swiss company Merging Technologies – one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-resolution digital audio recording systems – will now be working together under the umbrella of the Sennheiser group. Sennheiser has taken over the shares of Merging Technologies entirely. With this step, Neumann.Berlin plan to  enlarge its range of […]
  • London-based Twickenham Film Studios (TFS), world class home to filmed entertainment since the silent era, performed the final sound mix for Paramount Pictures’ blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick working in collaboration with Skywalker Sound. The mix was facilitated against the odds in the height of the global pandemic and proved the template for major productions to […]
  • La Casamurada studio in Penedès, Spain, has expanded its monitoring capabilities with a pair of Genelec The Ones 8361 three-way coaxial monitors. The residential studio has built its reputation on delivering a unique experience for artists that draws on all the acoustic benefits of its historic location, while also offering a thoroughly modern technical environment. […]
  • Antelope Audio has introduced a major addition to the functionality set of the Galaxy 32 Synergy Core [review Resolution V21.6] surround and immersive audio monitoring control and speaker calibration functionality. This addition to the flagship interface allows its users to configure and control a surround/immersive monitoring setup of up to 16 channels, or 9.1.6 Dolby Atmos. […]
  • Lectrosonics announced the introduction of the DSR and DSR5P dual-channel and DSR4 quad-channel digital slot receivers. The new receivers are compatible with all the current Lectrosonics mono and stereo digital transmitters and are backward compatible with any of the Digital Hybrid Wireless® transmitters made in the past 20 years. The DSR and DSR5P receivers provide two […]
  • Have Warm Audio saved the best until last? WA‑CX12 is a large-diaphragm tube condenser based on one of the world’s most sought-after microphones, the AKG C12. [A version of which, the C12 VR, is still available from the Harman-owned AKG brand for $6,989]. “The C12, a valve operated condenser, was a marvellous mic”, said Beatles-producer George Martin. […]
  • Expanding on its 30-year relationship with Calrec to satisfy its complex audio needs, OB and technical services provider EMG UK has turned to the company to equip its latest Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Stratford, London. The installation means that EMG UK continues to use Calrec equipment in all of its UK-based outside broadcast work. […]
  • Production sound mixer Jeff McLain’s Lectrosonics wireless kit consists of three dual-channel SRc Digital Hybrid Wireless receivers, SMWB wideband, LT, and LMb transmitters. He spoke about how Lectrosonics stood up to the rigours of one of the harshest environments he’s worked in — a minerals mine nine stories underground — and other productions. “This was for […]
Translate »