by Pete Weiss
Barney Beck was the night shift (5:30 pm to 1:30 am) engineering supervisor at Columbia Records studios during my time there as an engineer. Barney was a gentle giant of a man, generous of spirit, tolerant of the nonsense that often accompanied the creative process, including the clouds of pot smoke that wafted in the hallway of the fourth floor of 49 E. 52nd St., where the mixing rooms were located. His face could have been on the cover of a Zane Grey western novel, and many people who came to work on the fourth floor started to call him "the sheriff." He definitely looked the part, so much so that one producer (I don't recall which) brought him a white Stetson hat, which he sometimes wore. Barney lived in Huntington, Long Island, where he kept several hives of honeybees. Many of us bought raw honey from his hives as well as beeswax candles his wife made by hand. He never pushed the "merch," just let us know it was available. Ironically, Mrs. Beck was severely allergic to bee venom, but supported Barney's efforts and created beautiful paintings of bees and blossoms.
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