I would like to correct some misinformation in your article about Bay Area recording in the 1970s [November 2004], mostly pertaining to the CBS/Automatt facility. I worked there as an engineer from August 1971 to March 1979.
Coast and Columbia coexisted from the beginning to 1976, when Coast consolidated at 1340 Mission [St.]. It had a full studio, C, a voice-over room and a combination edit/maintenance room, along with offices.
It wasn't union rules that killed Columbia. When Clive Davis was fired, the handwriting was on the wall. We never let rules — union or CBS — get in the way of a session. Roy Segal and Roy Halee knew that you couldn't run the place like New York. The only thing we did was switch second engineer/tape ops at shift change if the session was running late. And we didn't do that if the producer wanted to keep him. Plenty of drugs got used there, as well. It wasn't any different than any other studio in town that way. Halee and Segal just preferred that you not smoke in the control room while they were in there.
When Coast left, Rubinson moved into Coast's Studio C as the Automatt. He had by then taken over the second floor — 827 and the former American Zoetrope — but he never had a studio up there. The lease situation was always a problem. CBS leased the place from United — Bill Putman — at what we engineers surmised was a very high rate; later, it was a real problem for Rubinson. Putnam drove a hard bargain. It was my impression that it was hard to make money because the lease was so expensive.
Finally, how could you omit “Count” Leo De Gar Kulka's name from the piece? Leo was around for most of it and you didn't mention him at all, and Golden State just in passing. The first real rock album out of the city, The Sons, was recorded there.
San Rafael, Calif.
GOLDEN TIMES, GOLDEN EARS
Thank you for a wonderful glimpse back into San Francisco [recording history]! Thank you, too, for giving Pat Gleeson (1970s) his due. Some may not know or may have forgotten that Pat, in addition to several brilliant electronic albums, was responsible for most of the soundtrack to Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Pat was a major talent during those years.
The article was simply super, and for an old guy like me, those memories are golden!
Green Valley, Ariz.
THE NAME GAME
Having been involved in the Bay Area music scene since about 1962, I've just read your articles on the '60s and '70s with interest and fond memories. I would like to point out a small error that will be important only to a very few people: The man who started Pacific High Recording and was on hand daily was Peter Weston. Peter hired me in the spring of ‘69 and I worked with him until the studio closed in ‘72. I was later able to hire him to help me install the studio in Berkeley.
During the brief years at PHR, we saw a lot of fine artists come through: the Dead, Quicksilver, the Airplane, Starship, Van Morrison, Judy Collins, Commander Cody, The Charlatans, Sons, It's a Beautiful Day, Norman Greenbaum, Lee Michaels — you get the idea. I had the pleasure to learn from and second engineer for Dan Healy on Quicksilver Records until I got the gig. We also did live radio broadcasts on Sunday afternoons on KSAN with Big Daddy Tom Donahue announcing and an audience of around 200. As you can guess, the stories go on and on. Peter Weston was an important man in my life and career. I just thought it would be nice to get his name right.
LEHRMAN GETS SIMPLE
Oh, I get it: Lehrman is cleverly telling us that all that is good and true in America will die an ugly death if George W. Bush is re-elected [“Insider Audio,” November 2004]. Gee, how original and how simple. Everything bad that happens is W's fault. I suppose it is a lot simpler to blame one guy for everything, though, isn't it? It's simpler than accepting that the Dixie Chicks' sales may have slumped because they lost touch with their fans. It's simpler than taking the time to analyze the pile of lies in Michael Moore's “documentary.” It's easier than believing that Springsteen, for all of his talent, is not a qualified political analyst, but just another musician with a point of view. Oh, and all radio sucks because of George, not because consumers haven't protested loudly with their pocketbooks. Maybe Lehrman should change the title of his column from “Insider Audio” to “Inside a Simple Mind.”
Unless Mix is shifting its focus from professional audio to politics, I suggest Lehrman stick to topics that he genuinely understands, like electronics, and stay away from any more lame attempts at political satire.
DISCLIVE, ALIVE AND GROWING
There is an article in the new [December issue of] Mix that quotes someone as saying “DiscLive has been sold to an unnamed company and no longer exists.” I believe that this [was said] in reference to The Pixies, [but] indeed, quite the contrary is true.
DiscLive is still in existence, under the helm of Immediatek, and has resumed recording The Pixies on their fall tour. We started recording their shows and delivering limited-edition discs as of November 10th, and will continue through the last note played at the Hammerstein on December 18th (or rather, the wee morning hours of Dec. 19th). The Pixies are no longer uploading shows to MusicToday as the DiscLive product is available.
[DiscLive has] also entered into an exclusive alliance agreement with Moving Records. The combined force of their engineering capability, plus our automation and proof-of-concept in the market, will allow us to extend our reach substantially. And, their culture blends quite well into our “artist-friendly” environment. In fact, some of the MR crew is part of the DiscLive crew recording The Pixies. We are currently recording 10 dates in the UK with The Levelers, signifying our official European launch.
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