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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Vintage Recording, Pt. 4

Welcome to RANDY McNUTT's
Still Too Hot to Handle
More Historic Recording Studios of the 20th Century

HHP Books
Author's Note: 
This is the fourth installment of the book Still to Hot to Handle,
published in 2005 by HHP Books.  

NEWCOMB RECORDING STUDIO, 4834 Bissell Avenue, Richmond, California. In the San Francisco and Bay Area, Newcomb Recording was founded in 1945, making it one of the city’s oldest studios by the early 1970s. W.S. Newcomb served as the small studio’s manager, owner, and chief engineer.

NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES, New York, N.Y. It provided  recording facilities for Paramount—the early blues label—and other firms in the 1920s.

GENE NORMAN STUDIOS, Los Angeles. In 1956, record producer Gene Norman operated his own studio in the basement of  Pantages Theater. The Signatures, a jazz-oriented young vocal group, recorded there for Whippett Records. The group included Bob Alcivar, who would become a successful arranger for The Fifth Dimension and other groups in the 1960s and ‘70s. Norman would go on to start the GNP Crescendo label.
NORTH ALABAMA RECORDING, 102 E. Second Street, Sheffield. After hitting with “When A Man Loves A Woman,” producer Quinton R. Ivy opened a little studio with partner Marlin Greene. Eventually, it became North Alabama Recording, which last a few years. Four tracks.

NORTH LAKE SOUND, 3 Lakeview Drive, North White Plains, New York. At this studio not far from New York City, singer-songwriter Chip “Angel of the Morning” Taylor cut another of his fine albums, for Capitol Records, in 1979. Saint Sebastian was engineered by Ed Sprigg and Ted Spencer.

P A C-3 RECORDING CO., 7106 Greenfield Road, Dearborn, Michigan. Another rocking studio out of the North, P A C-3 was founded in 1965. By 1970, it was owned by Richard G. Becker, the chief engineer. James Monoro managed the studio. It competed against Sound Studios, 2019 Russell Street, which was founded in 1962 and owned by Cory Drake. The chief engineer was Bryan Dombroski.
PENINSULA SOUND STUDIO, San Carlos, California. Another San Francisco Bay area studio in the early 1970s. Owned and managed by Bob and Larry Black.
PEPPER POT, 900 Seventh Street, Gretna Louisiana. A 16-track studio owned and operated by Buzzy “Beano” Langford, who served as chief engineer. In 1981, he used a TEAC Tascam recorder with a Studiocraft console. Fees: $25 per hour for eight tracks, $60 for 16.
                PEPPER SOUND STUDIOS, Memphis. Owned by producer Marty Lacker and the independent Pepper Records in the 1960s. The studio was used to record some of the acts on Pepper, including Sydna and her “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (Pepper 438), produced by Marty Lacker and Vinnie Trauth.

PHOENIX SOUND RECORDING STUDIO, 3703 N. Seventh Street, Phoenix. Owners Ray Sanders and Billy Williams opened this studio in 1968. Williams managed it. By 1970, it competed with the older Audio Recorders of Arizona, which opened in 1954 at 3820 N. Seventh Street. Owner and studio manager Floyd M. Ramsey hired David Oxman as chief engineer. Another competitor, Ambet Recording Co., operated at 2750 W. Osborn Road. Its owners were Frank Woods and Roger Jones.

                 QUANTUM AUDIO AND RECORDING STUDIOS, 1425 Marcelina Avenue, Torrance, California. Offering two to 48 tracks in the late 1980s, Quantum was a hit studio away from the main hustle in L.A. Also sold recording studio equipment. The studio was at 1425-1/2, the sales office at 1425.

QUEEN OF SOUND RECORDING STUDIOS, 1314 Pine Street, Nashville. In 1970, Queen of Sound operated as a division of East Coast Sound Corporation. It featured a new eight-track Ampex recorder with a Langevin board and Altec equipment. Recorded both stereo and mono. Studio used for demo and master sessions.

RECORDING OF NASHVILLE, 115-1/2 Third Avenue North, Nashville. A 24-hour studio to accommodate Music City’s demo needs in 1963. “Complete mobile recording service, custom-made records, demonstrations, artist placement.” Equipped with a Hammond organ and Knabe grand piano.
RKO SOUND STUDIOS, 1440 Broadway, New York, New York. In the early 1960s, Brian Hyland recorded “I’m Afraid To Go Home” at RKO, which by then was already starting to fade as one of the city’s singles-oriented recording studios.
ROBINSON RECORDING LABS, Philadelphia. A studio based in the headquarters of WIP Radio. This is where The Silhouettes cut a now-famous B-side, “Get A Job,” in 1957. The song turned into a No. 1 record on the Billboard charts in 1958.
JIMMIE RODGERS RECORDING STUDIO, 1316-1318 Dauphin Island Parkway, Mobile, Alabama. Jimmie Rodgers opened his own studio in 1958 to bring recorded sound to the bay. In 1965, his competition came from Channel 1 Productions, 1061 Elmira Street, in Mobile. By the way, Rodgers, the studio’s chief engineer and general manager, was named Jimmie O. Rodgers.
ROYAL SHIELD, 1251 N. Acadian Throughway West, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the early 1980s, owner Homer Sheeler operated this 24-track studio that was accessible by land, air, and water. Engineer Lee Peterzell used a MCI recorder and a Harrison automated console. Fees were then $105 per hour for master rates, and $65 for demo rates.
THE SANCTUARY, 1216 16th Avenue South, Nashville. By 1994, The Sanctuary offered a rare Music Row recording experience—quality at a reasonable price, only $55 per hour. The analog studio also offered a Studer 24-track recorder, a Neotek Elan console, Westlake BBSM-10 monitors, and a terrific drum sound. Clients included Liberty Records, Warner Brothers Records, EMI Music, and Sony Music. The owner was Barry Sanders. They used The Sanctuary for both high-quality demos and master sessions.
SCEPTER RECORDING STUDIOS, 254 W. 54th Street, New York. The independent Scepter label established a studio in 1964 to record demos and masters, mainly for its own artists. The studio operated into the 1970s, when Stanley Greenberg was the manager and John W. Lakata was the chief engineer.
BILL SCHNEE STUDIO, Universal City, California. One of America’s top West Coast engineers in the 1970s, Bill Schnee opened his own studio and found the demand for his services increasing. His studio hosted Don Henley in 1984 for parts of Building the Perfect Beast.
SELECT SOUND STUDIO, 1790 Broadway, New York. Opened in 1967, Select was a division of Jubilee Industries. Bob Stephens managed the studio in 1970, and the chief engineers were David Smith and Souren Mozian.
SIERRA SOUND, 1741 Alcatraz Avenue, Berkeley, California. One of central California’s more recognizable studios in the late 1960s. It recorded mostly rock ’n’ roll bands.
HAVILAND SMITH RECORDING STUDIO, 1020 Central Avenue, Charlotte, North Carolina. Haviland Smith’s studio was much less known than was Arthur Smith’s Charlotte studio, which recorded James Brown’s hit “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag.” Yet Haviland operated for some years in the 1960s. Charlotte became a regional music center, attracting performers from the southeast.
SMOKETREE RECORDING, Chatsworth, California. In 1981, renowned A&M recording engineer Norm Kinney cut Gino Vannelli’s Nightwalker at Smoketree, in suburban Los Angeles.
SOUNDCASTLE SOUND CENTER, Los Angeles. In 1984, the Commodores cut their hit “Janet” and its album, Nightshift, at this sophisticated California studio, under the direction of producer Dennis Lambert and engineer Paul Ericksen. The tracks were mixed to digital on a Mitsubishi X-80. 

SOUND CITY, 1705 W. Seventh Street, Fort Worth, Texas. An independent studio that served the city and region in the mid- to late-1960s. The general manager was John Allee.

SOUND CONTROL, 2813 Azalea Place, Nashville. In 1984, chief engineers Mark and Randy Moseley offered a Sound Workshop 1280 console, an Ampex 440 eight-track machine, an Ampex two-tracker, and DBX outboard equipment. The owners promoted the place as a demo studio.
SOUND GENESIS, 759 Harrison Avenue, San Francisco. Founded in 1968 in a wave of new-studio openings, Sound Genesis catered to rock bands and continued to operate into the 1970s. The owner was Bruce Hatch; the manager, Julie Hatch. Dean Schultz was the chief engineer in the early 1970s.

SOUND LABS, INC. A Los Angeles area studio known for its fine mixing, Sound Labs welcomed producer Richard Perry in 1973 when he arrived to mix Solitaire by Andy Williams for Columbia. Perry also recorded a part of the album there. 
SOUNDS UNREEL, 1902 Nelson Street, Memphis. In the late 1980s, this studio recorded acts such as William Lee Golden. Owners: Jon Flornyak and Don Smith.
SPAR RECORDING STUDIOS, Baker Building, Nashville. “From eight track to monaural; eight track stereo tape—high speed publication.” Operated in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Spar Records, the parent firm, operated at 702 Harrison Street.
SPECTRA-SOUND INC., 6110 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles. Advertisement: “Large, well-equipped studios; professional tape and disc recording; 35mm and 16mm motion picture dubbing, looping and projection; mastering and location recording. Film transfer and Nagra rentals.” Mid- to late-1960s.
STEREO HI-FI CENTER, RECORDING STUDIO, 13990 Crenshaw Street, Gardena, California. Studio of the mid-1960s that served southern L.A. “Available to professional and amateur artists and groups. Ampex – Telefunken equipment. Monaural and stereo. Grad. Electronic engineer at controls.”
STEREO MASTERS CO., 5518 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles. A four-track studio of the mid-1960s.
STOP RECORDS STUDIO, 809 18th Avenue South, Nashville. Stop Records was one of country music’s more successful hit-generating indies in the late 1960s and 1970s. Stop also operated a studio, which did not cut everything released on the label.
STUDIO AND ARTISTS RECORDERS, 6087 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. Mid-1960s.
STUDIO 7 RECORDING CO., P.O. Box 57, Smith Alabama. This small-city studio opened in 1965, just in time to catch the early rock ’n’ roll train. It was a place of royalty. The owner and studio manager, Frank B. Gowan, hired a chief engineer named Sir Francis Phair.
STUDIO 10, 10 Claude Lane, San Francisco. Founded in 1969. Owned and operated by Tom Preuss. Chief Engineer: Phil Edwards.
SWANEE RECORDING, 315 Mount Juliet Road, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Owned by Nashville studio owner and label chief Gene Kennedy in 1985, Swanee offered a Sound Workshop console, a MCI 24-track recorder, an EMT plate reverb unit, and a Studer recorder with half-inch and quarter-inch tape for mixing.  
SYNCON SOUND STUDIOS, 10 George Street, Wallingford, Connecticut. Founded in 1966, Syncon Sound was one of southern New England’s larger recording studios. It was owned and operated by producer Doc Cavalier, who expanded the studio in July 1969 into a division of Perception Industries. The firm included a label, Poison Ring Records, for which the group Pulse recorded. By 1970, the studio was doing a lot of work with area rock bands. Andrew B. Carlton was the general manager. The chief engineer was Bill Lobb.    
TERON RECORDING STUDIO, 1156 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood. In 1964, this studio advertised its Ampex one, two, and three-track recording machines, complete tape and disc service and “major record company contacts.”
TOWN SOUND RECORDING STUDIO, 1 North Dean Street, Englewood, New Jersey. Only three miles from the George Washington Bridge, Town Sound attracted clients from New York City in the mid-1960s and later. The 2,400-square-foot studio offered twenty-five inputs for mics on the board as well as a new eight-track Scully recorder in 1966. Also available were Ampex machines in four, three, two, and one tracks, and a Steinway piano, Hammond organ, drums, guitars, and other instruments and equipment. You could record there on the latest in “high-tech” recording for $55 per hour. If you budget was tight, you could always go two-track for $40 per hour.
TRI-SOUNDS, 11825 Hamilton Street, Highland Park, Michigan. Detroit-area studio. Vice president was Major Reynolds in 1966.
UNITED AUDIO CORP., 1519 S. Grand Avenue, Santa Ana, California. Founded in 1967. Owned by Henry Quinn and Jack Marshall. Manager and Chief Engineer was Henry Quinn.

UNITED RECORDING SERVICE, 2724 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh. One of Pittsburgh’s top studios. Operated in the late 1960s.
                  UNIVERSAL RECORDERS OF CALIFORNIA, 6757 West Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood. In the late 1950s, it attracted major session acts and session musicians, including famed drummer Earl Palmer. Universal also recorded a number of acts for Specialty Records, including Lloyd Price.
VALENTINE RECORDING STUDIOS, 5330 Laurel Canyon Road, Los Angeles. In 1966, it’s advertising slogan was: “The name renowned for skill in mixing, editing, all phases of master and demo tape and disc recording. Competitive rates.”

VARSITY RECORDING COMPANY, 1705 Church Street, Nashville. “Modern  studio; finest equipment,” 1970. Full-track recording, four-track stereo and monaural and eight tracks.
VAULT RECORDING CO., 2525 W. Ninth, Los Angeles. 24-hour recording service, mid-1960s.
THE VILLA, North Hollywood. Don Henley, former Eagles drummer, cut his fine album Building the Perfect Beast at The Villa in 1984.
LAWRENCE WELK’S CHAMPAGNE MUSIC, 54 Music Square E., Nashville. One of the Welk estate’s musical enterprises, the studo featured Randy Best as chief engineer and manager Doug Howard.  In 1987, equipment included a Neotake ELite console and a 24-track Orari MTR 90 and atwo-track MTR-12 house.

WEST COAST SOUND, 3722 Effingham Place, Los Angeles. Another L.A. studio of the mid-1960s.
WESTWIND RECORDING, Los Angeles. Former Stax Records engineer Ron Capone recorded parts of Gino Vannelli’s Black Cars album at Westwind in 1984.
WINDCHIME STUDIO, 722 17th Avenue South, Nashville. Studio shared space with Windchime Productions and Windchime Records. A self-described “complete independent recording service,” operated in the early 1970s by music veterans Johnny Slate and Larry Henley.
YAMAHA RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT STUDIO, Glendale, California. In 1983, El DeBarge produced his band here for parts of its Rhythm of the Night. Here they also cut parts of their All This Love.


ZIA RECORDING STUDIO, 814 19th Avenue South, Nashville. Custom studio in 1970, offering mono two tracks and four tracks, demo dubs, and duplicating.




Barr, Steven C. “Ring Out, Wild Bells! A Study of Bell Records.” The New Amberola          Graphic, Autumn 1983.
Billboard 1966-1967 International Music-Record Directory.

Billboard 1970-1971 International Music-Record Directory.

Bryan, Martin. “The Edison Recovery Act of 1929 (And Related Trivia).” The New Amberola 
Graphic, Autumn 1981
Jones, Richard. Interview with Mark Lindsay. Hamilton JournalNews. May 29, 2003. 

McNutt, Randy. Guitar Towns: A Journey to the Crossroads of Rock ’n’ Roll. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

----------. Too Hot to Handle: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Recording Studios   of the 20th Century. Hamilton, Ohio: HHP Books, 2001.

---------- We Wanna Boogie: An Illustrated History of the American Rockabilly Movement. Hamilton, Ohio: HHP Books, 1989.

“HMW Recording Moves.” Record World, July 1974.

“Recording World: On the Record.” International Musician and Recording World, July 1979.

“This Is Where It All Began!” Sh-Boom, March 1990.

Willey, Day Allen. “Making a Talking Machine.” The Technical World, November 1904.

Copyright 2005 by HHP Books


Midi said...

Hi Randy - great post!

Quick question about Select Sound Studios. Any chance the opening date was 1965? This Jubilee release from 1965 says it was recorded there ( ) Thanks - Kerry

RANDY McNUTT said...

Kerry, you're probably right--Select Sound probably was in operation in 1965. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

Jyroflux said...

I came across your blog while looking for information about Smoketree Recording Studio. Do you know anything more about it? Sometimes it's called Smoketree Ranch or Smoketree Studio on albums. In most cases it lists Chatsworth as the location, but sometimes Los Angeles. Do you have an address for it?