Still Too Hot to Handle
More Historic Recording Recording Studios of the 20th Century
Author's Note: This excerpt featues a listing of old recording studios taken from my book "Still Too Hot to Handle," a follow-up to the still-in-print "Too Hot to Handle" (see Amazon.com for details). Some of these studios lack much information, yet I listed them anyway. Maybe an address is all that I could find. If you have anything to add about them, please write to let our readers know. The book, now out of print, was published to help preserve memories of these old studios.
CAPITOL CITY SOUND STUDIOS, 243 Convention Street, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A regional studio that served the Baton Rouge area in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
CENTER ROW RECORDING, 13 Music Square East, Nashville. In 1984, Center Row offered clients an MCI console with a 24-track recorder in a Westlake facility. Mark James was listed as the chief engineer, but it was not clear if this was the songwriter Mark James (“Suspicious Minds”).
CLEMENT VISION, 3405 Belmont Boulevard, Nashville. Yet another of legendary engineer Jack Clement’s studios, Clement Vision used a 24-track analog recorder as early as 1994. It continues to operate and serve as a base for its founder.
COASTAL RECORDERS, various locations, New York, New York. Often used by Atlantic Records acts.
COAST RECORDING STUDIO, 2534 W. Pico Avenue, Los Angeles. Ampex, Stereophonic, Steinway B piano. “One Stop Record Manufacturing Service.” Mid-1960s.
COMET-GOLDMONT RECORDS STUDIO, 726 16th Avenue South, Nashville. Eight-track studio in 1970 at the custom label headquarters in Music City. The firm featured a complete recording service (for country, R&B, and gospel) under the direction of J. William McInturff.
CREATIVE SOUND PRODUCTIONS, 911 Diamond Avenue, Los Angeles. Mid-1960s.
CRYSTAL SOUND RECORDING, 1014 N. Vine Street, Hollywood. This studio opened in 1969 to help serve the booming Los Angeles market. Its owner had the perfect name for a record man: Andrew Berliner. James Taylor cut “You’ve Got A Friend” there, and Carole King cut her first Ode Record LP, Carole King: Writer.
CUSTOM FIDELITY, 222 E. Glenarm Street, Pasadena, California. Established in 1957, this studio operated into the 1970s. Little is known about its equipment and owners. In the early 1970s, it was moved to 7925 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood. The studio president was David Berkus. Michael Levey was studio manager and chief engineer.
CUSTOM RECORD MANUFACTURING, 5810 S. Normandie Avenue, Los Angeles. This mid- to late-1960s custom label and studio offered “one of the most complete recording studios. Recording services from recording thru mastering processing, album binding, printing, pressing and packaging. Complete studio facilities.” The company president was Joe Bihari. By 1970, it had become a division of Cadet Records. Custom featured seventy record presses, an in-house studio, and warehousing. Slogan: “Record Producers’ One-Stop.”
CUSTOM RECORDERS, 5151 Strohm, Los Angeles. “Complete Service: Ampex equipment, remote, special.” Mid-1960s.
COBRA RECORDS STUDIO, Chicago. Operated by the independent label of the same name in the early 1960s.
DIAMOND JIM RECORDING CO., 12318 Dexter Boulevard, Detroit. Founded in 1965, this colorfully named studio was owned by James Riley and managed by James Anderson in the early 1970s. The chief engineer was Fred Walker.
EDISON RECORDING STUDIOS, 261 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. This is the other Edison studio, which is nearly forgotten now. The company moved into the new studio from January 23-29, 1929, just before the Depression smashed into American businesses. For years, the company had operated a studio on Broadway, where many of Edison’s hits originated. But the new studio offered more space and came equipped with the following: two recording rooms, a “trial singers’ recording room,” a rehearsal room, a music room, a testing room, offices, and a reception room. The new studio featured at least five pianos. The studio maintained a cash reserve of $5,000, but that figure doubled shortly after the new studio opened. The studio was also used to prepare singers for Edison’s Favorite Music of Famous Persons, a network radio show on NBC. Record historian Martin Bryan of Vermont believes the company opened the new studio and spent more money because it was excited about its new “Needle Type” records. Also in 1929, Edison stopped making newly recorded Blue Amberol cylinders and Diamond Discs. Unfortunately, Edison’s needle-cut records failed almost immediately, and the Edison parent firm didn’t wait for long to cancel the record division and the studio. On October 19, 1929, six people showed up at the studio to make trial recordings. That day, however, the studio log contained one word: “Finis!” The company paid the studio rent through the end of the year, when the studio bank account was closed. This legendary Edison studio was no more.
FILM CITY STUDIOS, 6087 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood. One of Los Angeles’ earlier studios, Film City was established in 1947 to serve a variety of clients, including film companies and recording artists. In 1970, the studio was owned and managed by John S. MacQuarrie. Gary Krause was the chief engineer.
FIFTH FLOOR RECORDING STUDIOS, 517 West Third Street, Cincinnati. Fifth Floor was used often for live performances when major artists came to Cincinnati. The studio was also used for recording master sessions, particularly for regional acts. The Big Four Building, in which the studio operated, burned in the late 1980s. Fifth Floor’s heyday was the 1970s.
FIRST TAKE, 3941 Bienville, New Orleans. In 1981, First Take operated with a M&M English recording console, an Otari MX-5050, a TEAC 3340, and a Crown halftrack recorder. The studio was owned by Sherman Bernard Jr. and Steve Monistere. Rates were $35 per hour. First Take was one of several studios that had opened to fill the gap left by Cosimo Matassa’s departure in the studio business.
FORTUNE RECORDING CO., 3942 Third Avenue, Detroit. Founded in 1946, the studio operated in conjunction with a local record label and was owned by Jack and Devora Brown. Jack Brown was the studio manager. The chief engineer was Sheldon Brown.
CHARLES FULLER PRODUCTIONS, 3013 Granada Street, Tampa. Charles Fuller operated two studios in this Florida city over a period of time. The other was on MacDill Avenue. It is where the producer for the Royal Guardsmen cut "Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron" for Laurie Records in New York. Though Fuller's studios were used primarily to cut commercials, a number of garage-band singles were made there as well. His studio on MacDill featured a four-track Ampex recorder, which was used to cut the 1969 hit "Love (Will Make You Happy)" by Mercy. Fuller Recording is a good example of a regional recording studio that turned out some national hits. Most of these studios recorded local bands and commercials to stay in business, but every so often a major label would stop by the make some magic happen.
FULTON RECORDING STUDIOS, New York. Atlantic used this old studio when its own place was booked, and before Atlantic developed one of New York’s more advanced studios. Fulton was, by some accounts, “cavernous.” Jazz great Charlie Parker recorded there in the early 1950s.
THE GARDEN RAKE, Studio City, California. In 1984, guitarist, engineer, and producer Jay Graydon cut parts of DeBarge’s Rhythm of the Night in this studio with engineer Ian Eales. For the album, they recorded and mixed the hit “Who’s Holding Donna Now?’’ at the Garden Rake, along with the cuts “Prime Time” and “The Heart Is Not So Smart.”
GATEWAY RECORDINGS, 234 Forbes Street. Pittsburgh’s top studio in the mid- to late-1960s. It featured a Scully four-track recorder and mastering lathes, Ampex mono and stereo recorders, complete recording, mastering, and pressing facilities for 45 and LP (mono and stereo). In addition, Gateway used precision Finebilt presses and Pultic equalizers and Grampian amplifiers to transfer tape to master disc. Gateway was the home of two labels, Gateway and Dyno (billed as “the largest polka label in the nation.”) Artists recording there included Louis Armstrong, Jack Jones, The Four Coins, The Vogues, Harold Betters, and Marion Lush. Hits cut at Gateway included “Five O’Clock World” and “You’re The One” by The Vogues.
GLENROSE RECORDING STUDIO, 110-1/2 Glenrose Avenue, Nashville. Independent eight-track studio in the early 1970s.
GM RECORDING, 14611 Nine Mile Road, East Detroit. Founded in 1968, GM was a rocking place where many hard-hitting Detroit bands recorded. The address, Nine Mile Road, is still important to the hip-hop scene. The studio was owned by Guido Marasco and managed by John Marasco. The chief engineer was Jim Myland. Bob Seger recorded some early tracks at GM.
GOLD WAX STUDIO, 1260 N. Hollywood Street, Memphis. Owned by music entrepreneurs Quinton Claunch and Rudolph Russell, this studio served the public as well as the soulful clients of Goldwax Records in the late 1960s.
GOLDEN WORLD STUDIOS, 11801 12th Street, Detroit. Golden World was simply one of the best—if not the best—studios in Detroit in the 1960s. Golden World operated as both a recording studio and hit record label. Built in a house in 1964, the studio was designed by New York engineer-producer Bob D’Orleans. In the mid-1960s, the studio operated with a three-track Ampex recorder 300-3SS (it used half-inch tape), a live echo chamber, a Scully four-track recorder, Altec-Lansing 604E coaxial speakers.
GARAGE SOUND STUDIOS, 1216 16th Avenue S., Nashville. In 1987, this studio was operated by chief engineer Tom Hitchcock and manager Debbi Bellin. It offered a MCI 24-track recorder, a JH24 24-track machine, a JH110 quarter-inch two-track recorder, and Lexicon PCM-70 reverb.
GRAND CENTRAL, 1708 Grand Avenue, Nashville. Chief engineer and manager Kent Madison offered in 1987 things such as AmekM2500 series, Mitsubishi X80 digital two-track recorder, an A810 Scully two-track machine, and a MCI JH 24-track. Three years earlier, the studio offered clients a Sound Workshop console. The studio’s specialties included jingle production, post scoring, and publishing demos.
GROUNDSTAR STUDIO, Nashville. Popular 1980s studio in which Ronnie Milsap, Dan Seals, and other country singers cut hits. Seals recorded parts of his On the Frontline here in 1986. It was in the busy Music Row area.
Copyright 2005 The Hamilton Hobby Press, Inc.
Tommy James recorded many of his
hits at Allegro Sound in New York.