He was born September 19, 1951 in Hull, Quebec; his French-Canadian family was firmly rooted in music, with his mother a singer and both his father and grandfather noted for their prowess on the violin. In 1963 he learned to play guitar , and with his brother, Robert, began making home recordings on a cheap cassette player. Lanois started his production career when he was 17 when he and his brother purchased a four-track machine, setting up a recording studio in the laundry room of their home and offering their services to local bands for a minimum of $60 Dollars, Regularly helping their clients not only as producers but also as songwriters and arrangers, the Lanois brothers' reputation quickly spread, at the end of the decade, they were able to graduate to larger recording facilities.
After sessions for performers as diverse as Ian Tyson and children's artist as Raffi Daniel works with Brian Eno, who later on would be Lanois' mentor and collaborator. Together, they spent several weeks working on instrumental ambient material, experimenting with sonic manipulation techniques. when Eno eventually returned to the U.K., Lanois stayed in Ontario, recording a series of LPs for the local band Martha & the Muffins for whom his sister played bass and, in 1983, producing improvisational trumpeter Jon Hassell's album Aka/Darbari/Java. In 1984, after working with Eno on Hybrid a collab with guitarist Michael Brook and The Pearl another collaborative effort, this time with Harold Budd , Lanois responded to Eno's call to co-produce U2's The Unforgettable Fire, the album was a major hit, and it impressed other superstar such as Peter Gabriel, who invited Lanois to co-produce the soundtrack to the movie Birdy.
Lanois worked with Peter Gabriel in his commercial breakthrough “SO”. However, it was his and Eno's second collaboration with U2, 1987's The Joshua Tree, which launched him to true fame after the album won a Grammy and after he subsequently co-produced Robbie Robertson's