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Fantasy Recording Studios to Close

By Steve Harvey. The famed recording facility, which can trace its roots back to 1949, will close its doors in mid-September.

Berkeley, CA (July 31, 2018)—Fantasy Recording Studios, long known as “the house that Creedence built” and in operation at its present location since 1971, will close on September 5, 2018, according to the company’s operators, Wareham Development.

Wareham distributed an email on July 28 on behalf of the Fantasy Studios team. It read: “We are sad to inform you that the Berkeley building at 2600 Tenth Street in which we operate is being sold, and that Fantasy Recording Studios will be closing effective September 15th, 2018.

“We wish to thank you for your patronage and for the privilege of working with you on the incredible projects you have completed at Fantasy. We are grateful and proud that your works of art will represent us forever.

“Our wonderful staff engineers and producers have freelance relationships with other studios and production spaces, and would love to continue serving you going forward.

“Again, thank you for everything. Jeffrey, Jesse, Adam, Alberto, Robert, Cody, and James send you our best wishes on your future endeavors.”

According to a statement provided by Wareham spokesman Andrew Neilly to The Mercury News, “Wareham is in the very early stages of marketing 2600 Tenth St. for sale. After owning the building for the last 11 and a half years and investing significantly into the building—including supporting the studio operation—it’s necessary to focus our time and attention on our core assets and expertise, namely being one of the largest privately-held developers and owners of life science and medical technology buildings in the Bay Area.”

Wareham Development, which owns 4 million square feet of commercial real estate in Berkeley, Emeryville and Point Richmond, paid more than $20 million for the 2.64-acre property, also licensing the Fantasy name, in 2007. Over 25 percent of the developer’s portfolio comprises biotechnology and related facilities.

The studio can trace its roots back to 1949, when brothers Max and Sol Weiss founded a label, Fantasy Records, specializing in jazz, comedy, spoken word and poetry in San Francisco. Saul Zaentz, who started working with the label in 1955 as a salesman having previously worked with famed jazz producer and promoter Norman Grantz, purchased Fantasy with a group of investors in 1967.

Fantasy Film Center’s Return Becomes Reality

Fantasy went on to become the largest jazz record label in the world. But its breakthrough came when Fantasy signed a garage band known as The Golliwogs, led by the label’s shipping clerk, John Fogerty. Rechristened Creedence Clearwater Revival, the band subsequently sold millions of records. When the Beatles split in early 1970, Creedence took over the title of No. 1 album artist but disbanded two years later

With CCR’s commercial success, Fantasy moved into a two-story building on the corner of Tenth and Parker in Berkeley. According to Fantasy’s website, “Containing three recording studios (A, B, and C) and a mastering room as well as offices and a spacious warehouse, the facility opened in February 1971.”

Zaetz moved into film production in 1975 with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which won five Oscars including for Best Picture. The film’s financial success enabled Zaentz to add a seven-story building adjacent to the studio complex in 1980. The new building housed a dubbing stage and picture and sound editing suites. In 1989, Zaentz added a second mix stage and more editing rooms. Dubbed the Zaentz Media Center, the facility had a hand in post production on a string of TV and film projects, including Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Toy Story and Good Will Hunting.

Fantasy Studios’ discography is expansive and eclectic. Green Day’s 1994 breakthrough Dookie was recorded there, as was Santana’s 1999 Supernatural, which garnered 15 platinum discs and won nine Grammy Awards. The facility’s client list also includes David Bowie, Journey, Joan Baez, Jerry Garcia, Buddy Guy, Tony Bennett, Bobby McFerrin, Country Joe McDonald, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Flora Purim, Journey, Robert Cray, Aerosmith, Counting Crows, Chris Isaak plus numerous others.

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Further details regarding the facility’s future have not yet been made public. According to Wareham Development founder Rich Robbins, in a statement to local news site Berkeleyside, the building “will go on the market soon.”

Fantasy Studios •