Meeting Topic: The Jimi Hendrix Legacy: Electric Lady Studios 40th Anniversary Salute
Moderator Name: David K. Bialik
Speaker Name: John Storyk, Eddie Kramer, Robert Margouleff, Tony Platt, Malcolm Cecil, Lenny Kaye, Janie Hendrix (CEO of Experience Hendrix) Lee Foster (Electric Lady Studios)
Meeting Location: Electric Lady Studios, NYC
Electric Lady Studios 40th Anniversary Salute (Download) (QuickTime Movie - 1017.2 MB - Length: 1:51:23)
Electric Lady Studios 40th Anniversary Salute (HTTP Streaming) (QuickTime Movie - Length: 1:51:23)
On August 26, 1970, Jimi Hendrix and Patti Smith sat on the stairs at a party for a new recording studio and talked about their being shy and how music was a universal language. Forty years later, the AES NY Section celebrated the legacy of Jimi Hendrix with an all-star panel at Electric Lady Studios, the site of that party.
David Bialik welcomed the audience and panel including John Storyk, the studio's designer; Eddie Kramer, Robert Margouleff, and Tony Platt, engineers who worked in the studios; Lenny Kaye, a producer and musician who continues working at the studio; Janie Hendrix, the sister of Jimi and CEO of Experience Hendrix; and Lee Foster, studio manager for Electric Lady Studios. The meeting combined the best qualities of celebration and reunion for people who had worked for, with, or at the studio and were genuinely happy to see old friends.
Of special note was the first live streaming of a New York Section meeting, courtesy of Ray Archie and CBS Interactive Music Group, making this event available to anyone worldwide with an internet connection.
After David Bialik's introductions, John Storyk told the story of being hired to design a club for Jimi Hendrix out of the blues club "The Generation" on West 8th Street in Manhattan. When the idea for the club fell through, it was decided to build a recording studio instead. Unburdened by the experience of building prior studios, John was open to the technical advise of engineers, including Eddie Kramer, for a large recording and control room and guided by the aesthetic requests of Hendrix including extensive lighting controls and round windows in the studio doors. The result was a space designed for the artist's comfort, in the studio and in the control room, and a radical break from traditional studio design. 40 years later, the original studio walls remain in place.
Eddie Kramer picked up the story and amplified the idea of an artist-friendly studio by telling about dialing in the lighting (purple, green, yellow) to encourage the right mood and setting up the Jimi Hendrix Experience on the floor of the studio including a live vocal mic in its midst. Robert Margouleff and his engineering partner, Malcolm Cecil, a surprise guest, talked about moving to Electric Lady Studios for their work with Stevie Wonder on sessions resulting in "Music of My Mind" and "Talking Book". In contrast with their previous traditional studio, they could set-up and customize the studio and control room so all instruments were up and hot all the time. The place truly felt like a home for artists without the traditional divide between control room, studio/technician and musician.
Tony Platt first came to Electric Lady with Robert "Mutt" Lange and AC/DC to finish some overdubs and mix the album "Back in Black". He was very impressed by the willingness of the technical staff to pursue and to repair a problem with the main monitors, even into the middle of the night. The tech's response ("I don't hear it but if you do, I'll fix it") was the right answer to prep the studio for the engineer and producer.
In 1974, Lenny Kaye and the Patti Smith Group came to Electric Lady with enough money for 3 hours of studio time and made her first record, "Hey Joe", followed the next year by her first album "Horses". The band continues to record at the studio. The entire panel's affection for the studio was captured by Lenny Kaye's comment "It's still here".
Memories of the early days were shared by the first manager, Jim Marron, and founding techs Shimon Ron and Ted Rothstein. Current studio manager Lee Foster spoke of his pride in being part of the great recording tradition represented by the talented panelists and guests. Janie Hendrix continues the tradition by working with Hendrix recordings. The capacity crowd of more than 80 had questions for all the panelists and the evening ended with champagne and several cakes to celebrate a studio that changed expectations for all subsequent New York recording studios.
The success of this meeting was the direct result of many active volunteers. The AES NY section would like to thank Lee Foster and the staff of Electric Lady Studios for their hard work and gracious hosting, Howard Sherman for invaluable assistance in obtaining our panelists, CBS for providing the staff and gear to stream the session, Robert Auld for mixing the live sound, Video Corporation of America for donating sound reinforcement, and NYU for donating the screen. Special thanks to Section members Joel Spector, Ken Hunold, Ron Ajemian, and Charlie Post for coordination assistance and guest reception.
Written By: David Prentice