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John “Dawk” Stillwell R.I.P.

John "Dawk" Stillwell in 1998

John “Dawk” Stillwell has passed away unexpectedly earlier this week. He was a musician and electronics engineer from Ithaca, NY, who started working with the local band Elf in early 60s. When Roger Glover and Ian Paice started producing Elf in 1972, Roger liked the sound of Ronnie’s bass so much, that he commissioned Dawk to do the same modification for his Rickenbacker. Dawk then went on to work for Rainbow and reunited Deep Purple customizing and repairing their gear. He recently worked for Manowar, with whom he was about to go out on tour. His death was announced on Manowar Facebook page.

Thanks to Danny N for the info. Image courtesy of DawkSound.com.

18 Comments to “John “Dawk” Stillwell R.I.P.”:

  1. 1
    Wlat von Groningen says:

    Respect for this man who shaped the tones of rock!

  2. 2
    Matt Love says:

    Wow, i dont think i ever wrote this on a public forum, but RIP… That man helped shape the tones of rock, as Wlat said

  3. 3
    João Alves says:


  4. 4
    Les Palasty says:

    R.I.P Dawk 🙁

  5. 5
    Andres Lottrup says:

    RIP Dawk !!

  6. 6
    Angelo Pinna says:


  7. 7
    Robert Throckmorton says:

    sad loss, Dawk was really ahead of his time in terms of how high gain amps developed.

  8. 8
    Jim Manngard says:

    R.I.P. Dawk! Peace & Love!

  9. 9
    Michael Friedman says:

    RIP Dawk

  10. 10
    Francesco Torno says:


  11. 11
    kraatzy says:

    The “Tone-Master of (Ritchie’s) Stratocaster” …


    and thank you for this great tone …



  12. 12
    Sylvain Barrette says:


  13. 13
    Drew Bertran says:

    Thanks for the sound brother

  14. 14
    Tommy H. says:

    My condolences go out to the Stillwell family – another great loss for rock ‘n’ roll within the squad of heros off stage. His extraordinary work on both Ritchie’s and Jon’s equipment (especially regarding the Marshall Major amplifier) went down in history with great albums like Deep Purple In Rock or Made In Japan.

    Thank you for shaping this awesome tone, Dawk!


  15. 15
    Tommy H. says:

    Dear Nick Soveiko, please correct: Dawk’s name is StiLLwell, not StiLwell. Thanks & Cheers

  16. 16
    Bobby Jo Mann says:

    A great loss—He was very instrumental in keeping our gear and sound “cutting edge”with our band Tyrant.
    My prayers go out to Danny and the Stillwell family and all my old friends in Ithaca who knew him well.

    Bobby Jo Mann

  17. 17
    Regina Rau says:

    Dear John, I just found this message of your “going home” by coincidence. And I know it was no coincidence, but that you “called” me to tell me about. I never thought, I would feel the way I do now, when looking into your face for the last good bye. I remember you as a very special person with a big heart. I wish you always a bright journey there – where ever you are. May you have wonderful vacations there, healing of all the things that hurt you in life. I wish you happiness and love and always the blessings of God. Love Regina

  18. 18
    Scott Varga says:

    I spent a lot of time with John, and Boomer, at his trailer in the mid 1970s. I’d grab a Pirro’s pizza or a couple of subs and head out at 11pm or so. We’d spend the night looking at gear, playing with Boomer in the dark, jabbering, having John teach me about gear and all sorts of other stuff. After I moved to Syracuse to play with the Whizz Kidds, we kind of got out of touch. With the new band, using all that I had learned from John, I designed and built our new PA system. When we premiered the new system at Nitecourt in Ithaca, I invited John to come take a look. He listened to the band, and then thoroughly inspected my work. He didn’t come to me to offer his opinion, he made me ask him! LOL. That was John. So I asked. His response? “Overdesigned, and overbuilt.” I couldn’t have received a higher accolade!

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