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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Funky Jack's Studio, Central Avenue, San Francisco, CA

Funky Features poster

Jack Leahy in center. Notice the poster.

In 1969 John Rewind, from the HooDoo Rythmn Devils, was teaching guitar at Roger Calkins Music on Market St. in San Francisco, CA. One of John's guitar students, Jack Leahy,"Funky Jack" who lived up the street from John in the Haight Ashbury district, had just closed his poster business Funky Features, and was getting into recording and was building a studio. When Jack heard John, he took the lead and started recording the band and making connections for the band to get a recording contract with a major label.(4)
Prior to Funky Features’ oļ¬ƒicial opening in 1969, Jack Leahy had built a workshop/studio in the basement of an old Victorian on Central Avenue, near the panhandle of Golden Gate Park.
Originally designed for personal use only, the small space became a popular place for young bands to rehearse and record new material under Leahy’s guidance. As the engineer continued to invest in his private workshop, he acquired enough gear (and spent enough money) that he opened the studio to outside clients in 1969. Preferring to work fast in order to cater to bands on a budget, Leahy’s comfortable space turned out a healthy number of demos and masters, with many referrals coming from the neighbors across the street, Big Brother & the Holding Company.
Producer David Rubinson reportedly brought some of his Fillmore Records acts, such as Cold Blood, to the studio. Acts such as Steve Miller, HooDoo Rhythm Devils (managed by Leahy), Country
Joe McDonald, Link Wray, Terry Garthwaite, Wah-Wah Watson, Herbie Hancock, and Steamin’ Freeman also spent time in the upper Haight studio.
Th e 20×20–foot studio had a Steinway grand piano at one end. A Hammond B3 organ with a Leslie speaker and an antique Everett upright tack piano could be rolled in as well. Leahy worked on an
equally antique console comprised of Ampex and Shure mixers, recorded to 3M 8-track (he later acquired a 16-track), and listened on a pair of JBL monitors. When the HooDoo Rhythm Devils
signed with Capitol Records in 1971, they reportedly spent part of their advance on a 16-input console for Leahy.(1)

Rock Love 
Capitol 748
Steve Miller – Guitar, vocals
Ross Valory – Bass guitar
Jack King – Drums
Recorded at Funky Features, San Francisco.
Engineered by Jack Leahy
Produced by Steve Miller

In 1979, Leahy moved his recording operation to Russian Hill to open the aptly named Russian Hill Recording. An odd, fan-run museum called The Jimi Hendrix Electric Church took over the lovely Victorian on Central for a few years before it reverted back to a residential space.(2)

Jerry recorded here in
1973 or 1974
In answer to a question about how often Garcia recorded at Heider's, Stephen Barncard recalled that, "We did do a track for Bill Cutler about 1973 or 74 at Funky Jack's Studio in the Haight."(3)

1.)^Johnson, Heather, If These Halls Could Talk
2.)^Leahy, Jack,
3.)^Barncard, Steve, 2012-04-18
4.)^Bishop, Pete (1978) "'Kidding' - Rough Urgency", Pittsburg Post-Gazette, March 25, 1978


  1. I recorded there in 1972 or so, with a friend, doing guitar duets. Any chance there is an archive of their tapes? Man, would I love to have those pieces. They were pretty amazing. Knox, 510-612-6124

  2. Funky Jack