Bob Walters, a member of the Mediasound Studios operations team in the late-’60s/early ’70s, then co-founder of the legendary Power Station studios with Tony Bongiovi in 1977, passed away in early June at the age of 87.
While Bongiovi—a producer known for his work with Gloria Gaynor, Chic, the Ramones and Talking Heads—gets a lot of the credit for designing and building Power Station, Walters was his operations partner in every sense of the word and helped build the facility into an internationally recognized brand synonymous with the making of hit records: Chic’s C’est Chic, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. and The River, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Madonna’s Like a Virgin, Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms, Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life and Peter Gabriel’s So, just to name a few of the hundreds that came out of the former Con Ed building on West 53rd in Manhattan.
“Bob and I had a true working partnership,” Bongiovi says. “Bob essentially ran the business side—anything to do with clients, labels, staff—while I designed the place and produced projects. He made it possible for me to be creative, and we had a run as a very successful team. I’m real saddened by the loss of Bob, and he will be missed by all of us.”
A young engineer from Media Sound, Bob Clearmountain, also made the move to Power Station and became their first staff engineer, working with The Boss, Bowie, Roxy Music, Rolling Stones and countless others. “Early in 1977 Tony Bongiovi told me he was thinking of building a new studio in New York and asked if I’d like to be involved,” Clearmountain recalls, who today owns the Neve 8068 from Studio A. “He said the only problem was that he needed someone like Bob Walters to run the business part of it. A week later Tony said he found that guy and, in fact, it was Bob Walters! This was a good thing because I believe the Power Station would never have become the iconic recording Mecca it was without Bob’s influence.”
Zoe Thrall, now studio director at Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas, pestered Walters for months for an internship fresh out of school, and after four months got her foot in the door, soon becoming an assistant, then studio manager through the ’90s. “The thing a lot of people said about Bob is that he did have a knack for picking good people,” she says. “Think about the engineers and producers that came out of that studio—Bob Clearmountain, Neil Dorfsman, Jason Corsaro, Scott Litt, James Farber, Roy Hendrickson, Ben Fowler, Robert Smith and so many others. It was a very special place, and a very special time in New York. Bob gave this shy but motivated kid a chance, and it changed my life. I’m forever grateful.”
Walters is survived by a sister, three children and six grandchildren.