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A Visit At Sunset Sound, The Legendary Recording Studio

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When a famous producer has his birthday bash at Sunset Sound, the famous recording studio where so many legendary musicians recorded some of their most iconic albums, and when you get the occasion to get in, you surely don’t want to miss such an opportunity. On Saturday night, Warren Huart, who produced Aerosmith, Ace Frehley, The Fray, Korn, and James Blunt among many others, had a birthday party at Sunset Sound, with many of his friends, industry colleagues and musicians, including Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, John Lennon), Cameron Webb (Motorhead), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Damian McGinty (Glee), Tony Franklin (Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Kate Bush)…

And if I didn’t know any people who got there to enjoy live music, food and drinks provided by Jack Daniels and Lagunitas, if I was surrounded by all these studio musicians, producers, engineers, mixers, and felt a bit out of place at time, I had full access to the place with its different recording studios, and its walls covered by gold records: it was truly magic. I have about zero knowledge in recording techniques and studio equipment but suddenly, I was in the room where The Doors recorded ‘L.A. Woman’, and in front of the A.P.I. console which was used to mix Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’.

Since Sunset Sound opened in 1962, and started with the production of recordings for Walt Disney’s movies such as ‘Bambi’, ‘Mary Poppins’ or ‘101 Dalmatians’, it soon became a very busy studio and its client list is simply unbelievable: Van Halen, Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Macy Gray, Bee Gees, Doobie Bros., Whitney Houston, Barry Manilow, Rolling Stones, Crosby, Stills, Nash, Yes, Brian Wilson, Beach Boys, Carly Simon, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Bangles, Fishbone, Randy Newman, Sly & Family Stone, Tom Petty, Buffalo Springfield, Janis Joplin, Genesis, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Led Zeppelin IV, Sheryl Crow, Smashing Pumpkins, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Toto, Aretha Franklin, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Crowded House, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Elliott Smith, Social Distortion, Prince, Beck, Stevie Nicks, Deborah Harry, Neil Diamond, Lionel Ritchie, Sam Phillips, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Jones,… and many more, I just had to list the most famous ones and I am not even sure I got everyone.

There are actually 3 studios and I can tell you that Studio 3 was Prince’s place in the 80’s… during the whole evening, I entered the different rooms multiple times, listened to some music excerpts and was wide-eyed all the time as they told us that all the songs, that they were playing, had been recorded there…I recognized Prince, the Doors, the Stones, Elton Jones, Maroon 5 (I had to use Shazam for this one), Rage Against the Machine, Barbra Streisand, the range was as diverse as you could imagine, and people were as excited as I was, at the thought of Elton John, John Lennon, Prince or Mick Jagger standing in that same room. One recording engineer did some demonstrations of the BAE Hot Fuzz pedal and their new UK Sound Compressor in Studio 3 where Purple Rain was recorded, and I am not sure I followed the demonstration (I didn’t), but it was thrilling to see the complexity of electronic tools they are using these days!

Of course when you reunite a lot of talented musicians in the same room, it is certain there will be music played, and almost all evening long, a few of them performed and sang the most famous hits recorded at Sunset Sound, from Tom Petty to Prince, Stevie Wonder, the Stones, the Beatles… and, as the evening stretched, they were alternating them with a few improvised jams.

There was a cute birthday cake featuring some of the greatest musicians and many people were still playing and dancing when I left the place around midnight. It was an evening of celebration, an occasion to celebrate the legacy of Sunset Sound Recorders.

a few pictures here

 

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Warren Huart, Tony Franklin (right)

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