Pioneering Australian Music Editor and Trackdown Digital Founder Simon Leadley Dies at 53

Film Music Magazine • April 21, 2010

Leading Australian music editor and Trackdown Digital studio founder Simon Leadley died February 24 from cancer at age 53.

Simon Charles Anthony Leadley was born in Henley on Thames, UK on October 28, 1956. He came to Melbourne, with his parents, brother and sister and when he was seven his family moved to Sydney. He attended Vaucluse Boys High School and then UNSW, studying electronic engineering.

He played rock guitar in a number of local bands, touring the country. It was when he set up one of Sydney’s first recording / rehearsal studios in Oxford Street in 1976 that his career path began to really take shape.

This small, three man business quickly evolved into one of Sydney’s premiere contemporary music rehearsal/demo studios with clients such as INXS, The Divinyls, Midnight Oil, Icehouse, Do re Mi, to name just a few.

The next step for Simon was to create Sydney’s first half inch 16 track recording studio underneath Hutchings Keyboards in Bondi Junction. This studio became the recording home of a significant proportion of the Sydney independent music fraternity. It also became one of the first studios in Australia to master their albums using digital technology.

Simon then moved his focus to film and TV audio and music. This began with a move to Camperdown where Simon introduced digital technology to Australia’s largest children’s animation production company, Yoram Gross Films. He started with sound and soon had almost all the studio’s processes running digitally – this helped increase Yoram Gross’s production output five-fold. This time also saw Simon driving the audio for animated versions of Blinky Bill, Flipper and Skippy.

It was 1998 when the Australian live action film industry truly recognized Simon’s extraordinary skills. He was asked to set up a music for film division at Australia’s leading feature film audio production house, Soundfirm, at Sydney’s Fox Studios. Over the next ten years Simon was music editor for films such as Dark City, Master & Commander, Happy Feet, The Bank Job, Australia and Moulin Rouge for which he received a Hollywood technical Oscar (AKA an MPSE Award).

The pinnacle for Simon was the creation of the Trackdown Scoring Stage at Fox Studios. This room has become recognized as one of the five best orchestral recording rooms in the World. It has been a favourite home for music groups as diverse as the Sydney Symphony, the ACO, The Whitlams, John Mayer, The Angels and many more.

Simon was also a keen snow skier and bike rider, having completed many Sydney to the Gong rides as well often being spotted on the black runs on the Australian and New Zealand slopes.

He is survived by his partner Kerry, his brother Phillip, sister Sally and father Tony.