Glen “SPOT” Lockett, the legendary producer and engineer who helmed iconic albums by Black Flag, Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, and Descendents during his tenure as house producer and engineer with iconic underground label SST Records, has died at the age of 72.
Former SST partner Joe Carducci shared the news today (March 4) on Facebook that Lockett died at a healthcare facility in Sheboygan, Wi., this morning after a battle with fibrosis and complications from a stroke.
“His fibrosis began to impair lung function. Since then he’d been on oxygen and was hoping for a lung transplant, but a stroke about three months ago put him in the hospital,” Carducci said.
Lockett was born in 1951 in Los Angeles and spent his final years in Sheboygan to “be near his favorite Celtic music scenes in Milwaukee and Chicago,” according to Carducci. Lockett was raised by an African-American father, who was one of the Tuskegee Airmen serving during WWII, and his Native American mother, who hailed from New Orleans. He learned to play guitar at the age of 12 and at one point tried out unsuccessfully for Captain Beefheart.
After moving to Hermosa Beach, Ca., in the mid-’80s, Lockett met Black Flag’s Greg Ginn while working at a vegetarian restaurant. Ginn recruited Lockett to play bass in the band Panic, which was a precursor of Black Flag. SPOT also contributed album reviews in the local SoCal paper Easy Reader, using his nickname as his byline.
But it was his work behind the boards for the Ginn-founded SST where Lockett made a name for himself, contributing his talents to essential punk, underground, and hardcore albums between 1979 and 1986. Among the 100-plus albums he produced or engineered are classics such as Descendents’ Milo Goes to College, Black Flag’s Damaged, Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade, Meat Puppets’ Up on the Sun, and Misfits’ Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood.
As Carducci shared, “[SPOT] started in Hermosa Beach playing and recording jazz and he took the primacy of live jazz playing into recording bands against prevailing attempts to soften or industrialize a back-to-basics arts movement in sound. When approaching the mixing board SPOT would assume an Elvis-like stance and then gesturing toward all the knobs he would say in a Louis Armstrong-like voice, ‘This is going to be gelatinous!'”
After leaving SST in 1986, Lockett delved further into his passion for photography, staging several exhibitions over the years. He had one planned for 2021 before his medical condition forced him to cancel it, according to Carducci.
See reactions below from musicians and scene members who worked with SPOT, including the Minutemen’s Mike Watt, Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould, and Big Black/Shellac’s Steve Albini.
good people, we just lost my old buddy spotski, a terrible blow. he recorded the minutemen’s first stuff, I go way back w/this man. brother matt took this shot six years ago when spotski came to visit our pedro town… man, this is a terrible blow. I love you spotski forever. pic.twitter.com/8Ibn0JrakQ
— mike watt (@wattfrompedro) March 4, 2023
Every music scene needed someone to document it, someone with no agenda, an open mind and hot mics. SPʘT was the archetype scene recording guy, the guy we all emulated and whose role we tried to play. For a while there half the records I bought had his name on them.
— steve albini (@electricalWSOP) March 4, 2023
RIP Spot. He recorded iconic LPs by Black Flag, Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, Descendents, Meat Puppets and the Misfits, among many others. He was also an excellent critic, photographer and musician. But most importantly, a lot of people loved him.
(photo: Photobill/Bill Daniel) pic.twitter.com/yCIEK4qeOD
— Michael Azerrad (@michaelazerrad) March 4, 2023
From 1982 to 1984, Hüsker Dü recorded four projects with SPOT. We worked at Total Access in Redondo Beach CA, mostly during the discounted overnight hours. SPOT always encouraged free expression and experimentation, even as those recordings were made as expeditiously as possible.
— Bob Mould (@bobmouldmusic) March 5, 2023