Friday, November 9, 2012

Bearsville Studios, Speare Road, Bearsville, New York

Bearsville Studios was a recording studio at Bearsville, New York just west of Woodstock, New York.
The Band doing a photo shoot in the main tracking room during the construction of Bearsville Studios.
The studio was opened in 1969 by Albert Grossman, manager of Bob Dylan, The Band, Janis Joplin and Todd Rundgren.
Most of Grossman's artist roster from Bearsville Records recorded at the studio. Notably including (alphabetically) The Band, Elizabeth Barraclough, Brian Briggs, Paul Butterfield, Bobby Charles, Foghat, The Johnny Average Band (The Falcons), NRBQ, Todd Rundgren and Utopia, Randy VanWarmer, Nicole Wills, Tony Wilson, and Jesse Winchester.
"Bearsvile Sound Studio", as it was commonly called, built a client roster outside of Bearsville Records including (alphabetically) 10cc, Rory Block, Jeff Buckley, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Crack The Sky, The dB's, Fear Factory, Foreigner, Danny Gatton, The Isley Brothers, New York Dolls, Orleans, Phish, The Psychedelic Furs, Bonnie Raitt, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, John Sebastian, Patti Smith, They Might Be Giants, The Tubes, The Vines,and Spirit, XTC and many others.
The studio did a great deal of demo work; and very little commercial advertising work; catering to its star-powered pedigree. The two hour drive from New York City, a "retreat" for some artists, combined with residences owned by Albert Grossman, amplified this value.

Studio A, Bearsville Studio
Studio A, Bearsville Studios
Studio B, Bearsville Studios
In-house studio staff production and engineering talent included (alphabetically): George Carnell, George Cowan, Tom Edmonds, Chris Hansen, John Holbrook, Ian Kimmet, Chris Laidlaw, Ken Lonas, Todd Vos, Mark McKenna, Ray Niznick, Jim Rooney, John Simon, and others.

The Speare Road facility contained two studios: Studio B, fitted with a heavily modified Quad-8 in the late 1970s and early 1980s; and Studio A, a much larger and unique acoustic space.
Until 1980, the control room for Studio B was the primary mix location. Initially designed by John Storyk, the B control room was modified to replace the quad 8 console with an SSL 6000E to suit changing client sonic beliefs. There were originally quad Westlake/601-style monitors oriented such that each looked like the iconic Bearsvile Bear logo; the LF drivers as "eyes", their ports as "ears", the HF driver as a "nose", and the horn as a "mouth". The Turtle Creek barn was located down the hill off of Ricks Road. A separate Utopia Video facility behind the Bear Cafe became operational in 1981 after it outgrew the logistics operating within Studio A in 1979 and 1980.
The Studio A space was used for rehearsal and pre-production of the 1978 Rolling Stones "Some Girls" tour.

In 1982, the Studio A control room was fitted with a custom 40 channel Neve 8088 that had originally been built for The Who.
The studio owned an acclaimed Bosendorfer piano that was tuned and maintained by Dick Cambell.
Adjacent to Woodstock NY, artists recording at Bearsville would frequently perform, often under a pseudonym, at local venues such as the Joyous Lake.
Studio managers included (chronologically) Susan Palmer, Jim Marron, George James, Griff McRee, Ian Kimmet, Mark McKenna, Chris Laidaw and Chris Hansen.
Chief engineers included (chronologically) Ted Rothstein, Michael Guthrie, Eddie Ciletti, Shep Siegel, Ken McKim, and George Cowan.
Bearsville Sound Studio shared the record company logo designed by Milton Glaser.
And then his widow Sally surprised everyone by finishing the theater left incomplete at Albert’s death, then leading the studio into some of its most productive years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She finally sold the restaurant/theater complex to Bear CafĂ© restaurateurs Peter Cantine, Eric Mann and Andy Cooper, who continue to run their fine eatery and manage the property today.
The Bearsville Studios, where artists like The Band, Paul Butterfield, Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin and John Hartford recorded, where Muddy Waters did his Woodstock album and the Woodstock Mountain Review kicked it in, where the Johnny Average Band and Robbie Dupree made records, where Randy Van Warmer cut “Just When I Needed You Most,” and Jesse Winchester sang and played, where the Rolling Stones rehearsed before their Joyous Lake appearance, including a 250-seat theater and a second recording house, were finally sold in 2004 and have been made into a private residence.(1)

Jerry performed here in
1973 with Paul Pena, Merl Saunders, The Persuasions as backup singers, and Ben Sidron on piano. So who was the drummer?
In 1973 Paul Pena was recording at Grossman's Bearsville Studios, and this time he had a sizable cast of musicians working with him: Jerry Garcia assisting on guitar, Merl Saunders on keyboards, a cappella soul singers the Persuasions on backup, and Ben Sidran, who had been playing with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs since the early '60s, on piano.(excerpts from Howie Spielman)

1.)^Smart, Paul, 2011-02-24, Bearsville's Barons, Woodstock Times - Bearsville’s baron Remembering Albert Grossman 25 years later


  1. I am pretty certain that Gary Mallaber played drums. Ross

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. The Neve console ended up at Roundhead studios, New Zealand

  4. I don't quite see the source for the Garcia information - what does "excerpts from Howie Spielman" refer to?

  5. I lived for a time just down from the studios on Speare rd. Quiet area and you'd drive right by and never know it as I didn't for most of the time when living down the road from there. Had I known i would've walked up and gotten in as a studio runner (gopher) just to get a foot in the door so to speak.It ceased being a studio decades ago and was sold. Now the property's current owner has trashed the place. All kinds of debris etc are strewn all around the former great studio. Sad to see such a storied place now just a ramshackle mess.

  6. I have so many great memories at the studio I used to stay with Bo Fox and Karen Gentry at the guest house downfrom the studio. There was a small studio with a wooden Spiral staircase and a grand piano downstairs I love that spiral staircase made out of wood, that I took pictures of it. I hope to find someday and post. Bo was assistant to Albert, and at that time we use to take Albert Grossman put to eat trying to stay on a diet. One evening I took my artist friend Michael santini to visit and we went up to the studio with Bo to find Albert, Eddie Offered producer of the YESalbums and Paul Butterfield with some backup singers doing some studio work, what a memorable night. Will post pictures once I find them.

  7.  Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work antminer L7