Tuesday, November 6, 2012

RCA's Studio B, 6363 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, CA


The Rolling Stones "19th Nervous Breakdown was recorded here on December 3 and 8, 1965.
Aftermath, first released on April 15, 1966 by Decca Records, is the fourth British studio album by The Rolling Stones. It was released in the United States on 20 June 1966 by London Records as their sixth American album. The album proved to be a major artistic breakthrough for the band, being the first full-length release by the band to consist exclusively of Mick Jagger/Keith Richards compositions. Aftermath was also the first Rolling Stones album to be recorded entirely in the US, at the legendary RCA Studios in Hollywood, California at 6363 Sunset Boulevard, and the first album the band released in true stereo.(1)
Keith Richards and Brian Jones
There were three live studios A, B and C.
Studio B had an all tube console that had also been built by RCA New York. It used the RCA BA series amps and preamps.
There were Fairchild limiters installed on each input but they hadbeen bypassed and were not operational. It was an 8 track boardand had about 20 inputs. There was always an outboard
rollaround rack with 8 Pultecs close by to take care of any serious eq needs.

For "Surrealistic Pillow" there were Neve consoles in the studios.
1966 Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow
Nov 1 (Tues) – Garcia joined them, and played on Plastic Fantastic Lover.
Nov 2 (Wed) - he played on Today.
Nov 14 (Mon) – recording continued with JPP McStep B Blues, with Garcia playing, and How Do You Feel. (Garcia’s memory might be off when he recalled playing on this song too, but he was definitely at the session that day.)
Nov 15 (Tues) – DCBA-25, and the newly rearranged Somebody to Love.
Nov 16 (Wed) – Comin’ Back To Me, with Garcia playing. (Marty Balin wrote this song during the sessions, and recorded it right away with just Garcia, Slick, and Casady.)
Nov 21 (Mon) – In the Morning, with Garcia playing.
Nov 22 (Tues) – Embryonic Journey.
At some point, Garcia apparently called the music “as surrealistic as a pillow,” thus inspiring the album title.
The sessions wrapped there, and the Airplane returned to San Francisco to play a run of shows at the Fillmore from Nov 25-27 (some of which has just been released, with the Surrealistic Pillow songs still fresh in the sets).
Jorma Kaukonen had many admiring words for Garcia’s role in this album. “He’s definitely in the mix and an important part of the band on those tracks. When I got into the Airplane, I didn’t have a clue about what an electric guitar was except that you plugged it in and it was louder. Jerry was way ahead of all of us in that. Jerry was his own electric guitar player from the jump.”
“When he worked with us on Surrealistic Pillow, he really helped discipline us. Because he had come from a band, and as a band leader and as an arranger, he just really knew what was important. He was really important in the formation of that record, and I know that personally he taught me a lot about playing in a band. I remember one evening he said to us, ‘It’s not what you play. It’s what you don’t play that’s important.’ In terms of dynamics and just plain letting the music speak for itself. As a band leader, he was really ahead of the rest of us.”
(Though Kaukonen may be exaggerating a bit in hindsight, it’s interesting how close this is to David Crosby’s statements about recording If I Could Only Remember My Name, when Garcia played a very similar role as a kind of co-producer – “Jerry Garcia is responsible for that record a very great deal. He was there night after night after night…thinking, listening, talking - you know, acting as a friend, saying ‘Hmmm, man, what if you, how did you, why don't you try a little more, and....’ And he would play. He played on a lot of stuff.”)
David Freiberg said, “He sure did help the Airplane with Surrealistic Pillow. I don’t know what that would have been without him. He was on every track, pretty near. I can hear him playing on Today. I always thought the sweetness that got put on that whole album never would have been there if it wasn’t for him. Because it wasn’t on any other album they ever did.”(3) 

This historic recording took thirteen days and cost $8,000.(4)




Harry Nilsson recorded “Everybody’s Talkin” on November 9, 1967 at RCA Studios, 6363 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California.
Harry Nillson at RCA, Hollywood
The songs “Sister Marie” and “I Said Goodbye To Me” were recorded the same evening, “Sister Marie” would be released as the B-side of the 1968 single “One” and “I Said Goodbye To Me” also appeared on the album “Aerial Ballet.” “Everybody’s Talkin” was written and originally recorded by Fred Neil for his self-titled third album in 1966. His was an excellent version and, whilst Nilsson certainly put his stamp on the song, he sensibly retained its core elements.(3)

Herman's Hermits - I worked on almost all their hits. Peter Noone overdosed in the studio and was lying on the floor unconscious and throwing up. I ran outside and they had guys from the Teamsters union sitting there - some union thing with the film company. I said, "I'm going to call an ambulance." They said, "Don't call an ambulance. We'll take care of it." They came into the control room, cleaned up the floor, cleaned up Peter, carried him out to the semi truck and took off. We had a lot of that.


Waylon Jennings, my good buddy, came in to do a session, and they went out back to have a smoke break. Thirty minutes later I said, "They're supposed to be back." We went out the back door and there were cop cars all over the place. People were being written up for smoking marijuana, and they were all hauled off.
I know you worked with David Hassinger and The Rolling Stones.
I was second man when Stones came in and did "Satisfaction." That was originally recorded to be a quiet tune. They added that [riff] to make it more raunchy, because the producer [Andrew Loog Oldham] said, "You can't sell that." They just came in and recorded it. It was a three-hour session and they did (I think) three songs.(2)

It was the former home of RCA Records (naturally), and the three studios were located in the basement (or on the ground floor). It is now the home of the Los Angeles Film School, and the studios were sadly torn out many years ago.
Today, the Los Angeles Film School is located at 6363 Sunset Boulevard, near Vine Street, in Hollywood, California. Before becoming the home of The Los Angeles Film School, the building at 6363 was home of RCA.[12]  Dave Hassinger was the chief engineer,as was Hank Cicalo.

Jerry recorded here on
11/1/66  Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow
Jerry plays on Plastic Fantastic Lover[9]

11/2/66 Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow
Jerry plays on Plastic Fantastic Lover.[10]

11/3/66 Paul Kantner, Marty Balin
Surrealistic Pillow
Jerry plays on Today.[10]

11/2/66  Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow
Jerry plays on Today.[9]
""I will always remember during the Surrealistic Pillow recording sessions in Hollywood how Leonard "Mr. Spock" Nimoy  would come in all the time, sit on the couch, and write poetry as he listened to us record the album."[9]

11/14/66 Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow, Early Flight
Jerry plays on JPP McStep B Blues, and How Do You Feel[9]

11/15/66 Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow
Jerry plays on DCBA-25 and Somebody To Love.[9][10]

11/16/66
Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow
Jerry plays on Comin’ Back To Me.[9][10]

11/21/66 Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow, Early Flight
Jorma Kaukonen, John Hammond and Goldy McJohn.
Jerry plays on In the Morning[9][10]

11/22/66 Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow
Jerry plays on Embryonic Journey[9]

Randy Groenke, March, 1967: "You played flat-top on ‘My Best Friend’ and ‘How Do You Feel?"
GARCIA: "I played flat-top on ‘How Do You Feel.’ Skip Spence played on the other one. He wrote that song. I played the high guitar line on ‘Today,’ and I played flat-top on ‘Plastic Fantastic Lover.’ And I played on ‘Coming Back To Me."

Randy Groenke, March, 1967: "That and ‘Today’ I think are about the best tunes on the album. What do you think? "
GARCIA: "I’m kind of fond of the songs that Gracie sings. I like ‘White Rabbit’ a lot. I like ‘Somebody To Love.’ The arrangement on the album is more or less my arrangement; I kind of rewrote it."

For "Surrealistic Pillow" there were Neve consoles in the studios.
At some point, Garcia apparently called the music “as surrealistic as a pillow,” thus inspiring the album title. The sessions wrapped there, and the Airplane returned to San Francisco to play a run of shows at the Fillmore from Nov 25-27.
Jorma Kaukonen had many admiring words for Garcia’s role in this album. “He’s definitely in the mix and an important part of the band on those tracks. When I got into the Airplane, I didn’t have a clue about what an electric guitar was except that you plugged it in and it was louder. Jerry was way ahead of all of us in that. Jerry was his own electric guitar player from the jump.”
“When he worked with us on Surrealistic Pillow, he really helped discipline us. Because he had come from a band, and as a band leader and as an arranger, he just really knew what was important. He was really important in the formation of that record, and I know that personally he taught me a lot about playing in a band. I remember one evening he said to us, ‘It’s not what you play. It’s what you don’t play that’s important.’ In terms of dynamics and just plain letting the music speak for itself. As a band leader, he was really ahead of the rest of us.”[2]
(Though Kaukonen may be exaggerating a bit in hindsight, it’s interesting how close this is to David Crosby’s statements about recording If I Could Only Remember My Name, when Garcia played a very similar role as a kind of co-producer – “Jerry Garcia is responsible for that record a very great deal. He was there night after night after night…thinking, listening, talking - you know, acting as a friend, saying ‘Hmmm, man, what if you, how did you, why don't you try a little more, and....’ And he would play. He played on a lot of stuff.”)

David Freiberg said, “He sure did help the Airplane with Surrealistic Pillow. I don’t know what that would have been without him. He was on every track, pretty near. I can hear him playing on Today. I always thought the sweetness that got put on that whole album never would have been there if it wasn’t for him. Because it wasn’t on any other album they ever did.”[3]

1/30/67 Grateful Dead (Studio A)[1][8]
The Grateful Dead album, released on March 17, 1967.

1/31/67 Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead album.

2/1/67 Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead album.

2/2/67 Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead album.

2/3/67 Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead album.

2/4/67 Grateful Dead
"Most of the tracks were recorded in late January and early February, 1967, in a span of five days (Monday night through Friday night, mixed on Saturday afternoon) at RCA Studio A in
Hollywood, CA, and produced by Dave Hassinger, a Warner Brothers staff production engineer, with Dick Bogert engineering."[9]

7/67 Grateful Dead
August/September/October 1967 Grateful Dead
Anthem In The Sun (Studio A)
"The group started their second album at RCA’s Studio A in Hollywood in the summer of 1967 with their label-approved producer, Dave Hassinger, who had also produced their self-titled debut album in just four days of “live” recording in the same studio. Actually, the lead-off  track from that album, “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)” was tracked after the RCA sessions, at Coast Recorders and required many more takes than the Hollywood material.
They challenged Hassinger every step of the way. The project moved to American Studios in North Hollywood, where they continued to test their producer. They allegedly contemplated recording in a desert to record in a more “purified” atmosphere. As the now-frazzled Hassinger had discovered, working with the Grateful Dead was like “trying to organize a school of fish,” says Healy. “Just when you think you’ve got something together, it blows up and goes in the opposite direction.” That’s exactly what happened when the project moved a third time to  a pair of 8-track studios in Manhattan: Olmstead Studios and Century Sound. Recording lurched along, with Hassinger trying to set boundaries on a band that wanted none.
He disapproved of the constant experimentation on the album—for instance, one of Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s friends, avant-garde composer and keyboardist  Tom Constanten, contributed a section of music for one song played on a “prepared piano,” a technique originated by John Cage in which different objects, ranging from coins to spoons, were placed in a piano’s strings, altering the sound of each note in bizarre ways.
The final straw may have been when rhythm guitarist Bob Weir  asked Hassinger if he could  create the sound of “heavy air.” According to Weir, Hassinger stared back blankly before leaving the room—and the project—for good."[4]




RCA Victor Studio A+B, Hollywood, CA

1.)^Taping Compendium p.136, Grateful Dead Guide, 2013-07-29, http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2013/07/studio-outtakes-1965-1974.html
2.)^Kaukonen, Jorma, comments, Grateful Dead Guide, 2010-12-28, http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2010/12/jerry-garcia-surrealistic-pillow.html
3.)^Freiberg, David, comments, Grateful Dead Guide, 2010-12-28, http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2010/12/jerry-garcia-surrealistic-pillow.html
4.)^Johnson,Heather, If These Halls Could Talk: A Historical Tour through San Francisco Recording Studios
5.)^http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050556/locations
6.)^Flatt and Scruggs Preservation Society, http://flattandscruggs.blogspot.com/2010/05/flatt-and-scruggs-recording-sessions.html
7.)^Ho-Tep, Bubba, comments, 2013-05-10, The Record Room, http://s3.excoboard.com/therecordroom/29211...t/1058127/1
8.)^Unknown publication.
9.)^Balin, Marty, comment, 2015-03-01.








1.)^Johanna's Visions, http://johannasvisions.com/today-the-rolling-stones-album-aftermath-was-released-in-1966/
2.)^Crane, Larry, Jack Miller Interview, 2011, http://www.tapeop.com/articles/86/jack-miller
3.)^Song of the Week #71 – “Everybody’s Talkin’”,  2011-09-12, http://www.classicpopicons.com/song-of-the-week-71-everybodys-talkin/
4.)^Thompson, Bill, 2003, http://albumlinernotes.com/Surrealistic_Pillow.html
12.)^ "Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design Announces New Partnership with the Principals of Full Sail Real World Education". dBusinessNews. December 12, 2007.

2 comments:

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  2. Wow! I never knew some this! My father worked at RCA Hollywood from 1962 to 1977 and told me many stories but seeing it written here is great!

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