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July 1, 2019

The Studio of the Stars

STAN-ROSS-ARCHIVES-Last-Gold-Star-sign-

The 33 1/3 – House of Dreams is a theatrical and musical tribute to Gold Star Recording Studios, filled with the rock ‘n’ roll classics that were created and captured at that storied, Los Angeles’ landmark

San Diego Repertory Theatre (San Diego REP announced that they will be partnering with the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SDSCPA) and R & R Productions, LLC for the world premiere musical 33 1/3 – House of Dreams. Written by local San Diegans Jonathan Rosenberg and Brad Ross, with additional contributions by Steve Gunderson and Javier Velasco, the debut production chronicles the success of Gold Star Recording Studios through the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

The production will feature direction and choreography by Javier Velasco with musical direction and arrangements by Steve Gunderson. 33 1/3 – House of Dreams will run August 1 – 25, 2019, at San Diego REP’s Lyceum Stage Theatre, with previews August 1 – 6, and press opening on Wednesday, August 7 at 7:00 p.m.

33 1/3 – House of Dreams tells the story of the legendary Gold Star Recording Studios and its co-founder, lead engineer and hit maker Stan Ross. In Hollywood for 33 1/3 years, Gold Star was the birthplace of some of the greatest pop and rock hits of all time. Imagine a story featuring the music of a young Phil Spector and his Wall of Sound, The Beach Boys, Eddie Cochran, Sonny and Cher, Ike & Tina Turner, The Righteous Brothers, Ritchie Valens and many, many more.

The show’s 30-song playlist includes rock ‘n’ roll classics such as “Summertime Blues,” “La Bamba,” “Good Vibrations,” “Be My Baby,” “Unchained Melody,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” “In A Gadda Da Vida,” “Tequila,” “Be My Baby,” “Da Doo Run Run,” River Deep, Mountain High,” “Let’s Dance,” “Rhythm of the Rain,” “He’s a Rebel,” “The In Crowd,” “Grazin’ In The Grass” and “Rockin’ Robin.”

Larry Levine and Phil Spector, at Gold Star Studios. Stan Ross Archives

Larry Levine and Phil Spector, at Gold Star Studios. Stan Ross Archives

“The creation of 33 1/3 – House of Dreams is the culmination of efforts to share the story of what happened within the walls of Gold Star Recording Studios,” shared writers and co-creators Jonathan Rosenberg and Brad Ross.

“Our musical is a way for us to honor the hit music and achievements through one of its co-owners, Stan Ross. He was the personality, lead engineer and mentor at Gold Star. His creative pioneering along with his partner’s technical knowledge and studio design led them to develop Phil Spector’s famous Wall of Sound productions. Stan’s story is our story, and is still relevant today.”

Brad Ross is the co-writer of 33 1/3 – House of Dreams and a practicing dentist in San Diego, California. Raised in Burbank, California, the story of 33 1/3 – House of Dreams centers around his father Stan Ross – co-owner and engineer at Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood who died on March 11, 2011 following an operation to correct an abdominal aneurysm at age 82.

Brad participated in interviewing many artists, producers, songwriters, musicians, arrangers, music historians, and ex-employees who recorded at Gold Star. His passion for sharing the stories and music of Gold Star inspired Brad to collaborate with his patient, Jonathan Rosenberg to develop this project. Brad is a graduate of Oregon State University and USC School of Dentistry. 

“After the death of my father in 2011, I took on the role of creating a production that would tell his life story,” explained Ross. “As a producer and co-writer, I have spent the last 4 years researching and conducting video interviews with artists, songwriters, producers, arrangers, musicians and former employees that were involved in any aspect of Gold Star’s existence as a mecca for the music industry from 1950-1984.

Buffalo Springfield, at Gold Star Studios, June 1966. Henry Diltz

Buffalo Springfield, at Gold Star Studios, June 1966. Henry Diltz

“These interviews have advanced both our projects: a music documentary and a theatrical musical stage play.

“In the play, we follow the path of Stan and his partner David Gold reflecting on the creative events and significant moments that allowed the studio to become one of the most successful independent recording studios in the world. Their creativity was recognized and promoted by Phil Spector in his Wall of Sound productions. He selected Gold Star due to its famous echo chamber and engineering techniques that allowed his unique production style to flourish.

“Gold Star was a place where any nationality, race, and faith could feel welcome to record and perform their music in a nurturing and welcome environment.

“The play is being directed by San Diego’s Javier Velasco with music direction by Steve Gunderson, both well-known creative resources in the San Diego community.

“Jonathan is a member of The Dramatist organization and is the lead writer/researcher/interviewer on the projects. My role in addition to writing has been to develop relationships with the individuals that were part of Gold Star’s history and to oversee business aspects of R & R Productions, LLC.”

Phil Spector session with Larry Levine and the Wrecking Crew. HAL BLAINE

Phil Spector session with Larry Levine and the Wrecking Crew. HAL BLAINE

Jonathan Rosenberg is a native of The Bronx, for 30 plus years Rosenberg, in addition to being a psychologist and teacher, has worked as an entertainment writer, radio personality and a lead singer/songwriter. In 2014, he turned his attention to playwriting and broke attendance records at the San Diego Fringe Festival for his musical, Long Way to Midnight.

In the coming months, Jonathan will have two World Premiere musicals opening: 33 1/3 – House of Dreams, and Americano (Phoenix Theatre in Arizona). Jonathan received his bachelor’s from City College in New York, his Master’s from the University of Michigan, and his Doctorate from Alliant University in San Diego.

“What amazed me the most about this project was the reverence the music community still has for Stan Ross,” exclaimed Rosenberg. “The fact that Brad was Stan’s son opened almost every door we knocked on. Brian Wilson, Bill Medley, Herb Alpert, Richie Furay, Mike Curb, and the Wrecking Crew musicians spent time with us recollecting their many great Gold Star memories.

“At that point, we realized that this was a story that has yet to be told. People don’t think of Gold Star Recording Studios in the same way they think of Sun Studios, Motown, or Abbey Road. That’s all going to change after they see 33 1/3 – House of Dreams.”

“It’s an amazing story and should be told for the younger generation to follow,” volunteered drummer/percussionist Hal Blaine in 2013.

Stephen Stills, at Gold Star Studios, June 1966. HENRY DILTZ

Stephen Stills, at Gold Star Studios, June 1966. HENRY DILTZ

Gold Star garnered more Recording Industry Associ-ation of America (RIAA) Songs of the Century and Grammy Hall of Fame winners than any other independent studio in America.

Former Gold Star studio clients included: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Sonny & Cher, Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young, Jack Nitzsche, Phil Spector, Shel Talmy, Brian Wilson with The Beach Boys, Kim Fowley, Leonard Cohen, Barry White, The Cascades, Iron Butterfly, The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love, Cher, Don Ralke, Eddie Cochran, Jerry Capehart, Jackie DeShannon, Bob Dylan, Clydie King, David Briggs, Don Peake, Art Garfunkel, Dick Dale, Johnny Crawford, Bobby Darin, Johnny Burnette, Thee Midniters, The Sunrays, The Rose Garden, Mark and the Escorts, Jon & The Nightriders, and The Dillards.

Ike & Tina Turner, Tim Hardin, The Beau Brummels, The Murmaids, Led Zeppelin, Ronald Reagan, Hoyt Axton, Robin Ward, George Carlin and Jack Burns, Duane Eddy, Maurice Gibb, The Chipmunks, The Sonics, Margie Rayburn, Marlon Brando, The Band, The Cake, The Association, The Runaways, The Go-Gos, The Ramones, The Seeds, The Monkees, The MFQ, The Turtles, Oscar Moore, Gerry Mulligan, Mundell Lowe, Chet Baker, Louis Bellson’s big swing band and The Hi-Los utilized the famed location.

During 1962 before Marty Balin founded Jefferson Airplane, he and arranger Jimmie Haskell waxed “I Specialize in Love” at the facility. In 1963, Noel Scott Engel, later known as revered UK musical icon Scott Walker, was hired for menial tasks and cut instrumental music and where Jimi Hendrix and Arthur Lee in 1964 teamed on Rosa Lee Brooks’ “My Diary” 45 RPM.

Dobie Gray’s “The In Crowd,” arranged by Al De Lory, Chris Montez’s “Let’s Dance” and Jackie DeShannon’s Laurel Canyon were done on the premises.

The Gold Star environment yielded Hugh Masekela’s “Grazin’ in the Grass, arranger Gene Page’s Blakula soundtrack and Star Trek’s William Shatner reciting “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

Brian Wilson conducting at Gold Star. HAL BLAINE

Brian Wilson conducting at Gold Star. HAL BLAINE

Cher’s first solo hit single, “All I Really Want To Do,” written by Bob Dylan, came from Gold Star, alongside her albums with Sony Bono, as well as Sonny’s own outing “Laugh At Me.”

In my 2009 book, Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon, the multi-instrumentalist Randy Sterling described the studio scenario around Cher’s “All I Really Want To Do,” even playing a pivotal role in ensuring it got on tape in the first place.

“We had finished the basic track and, in the hallway that led out to the back alley at Gold Star, Cher was standing there alone with her hands on her hips. She was about to record to record her lead vocal and was alone. She turned around and almost had tears in her eyes. ‘Oh Randy, I just don’t know if I can do this.’

“I gave Cher a big hug and said. ‘Honey, you’re the best. This is nothing. This is easy and it’s your song. And it’s gonna be a big hit.’ I gave her a pep talk. ‘You haven’t sung it yet and I know it’s gonna be a big hit. Get in there and do what you do and it will be fine.’

“She walked back into the studio, did it, and knocked it out of the ball park in one take. When we were doing it I knew it was good. I hung out with Sonny & Cher a lot when they were based out of Laurel Canyon.”

At this temple of sound Don & Dewey’s “Jungle Hop” introduced the electronically distorted guitar while Phil Spector’s production of “Zip A Dee Do Dah” by Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans was the first distorted lead guitar on a hit record.

Gold Star also developed phasing, DT (Double-tracking) and flanging techniques.Gold, Ross and engineer Larry Levine integrated the concept of phase-shifting or “phasing” a sweeping effect that incorporated electronic music on their hit disc “The Big Hurt” by the vocalist Toni Fisher.

Phil Spector Session with Leon Russell, Don Randi, and Al Delory. photos: HAL BLAINE

Phil Spector Session with Leon Russell, Don Randi, and Al Delory. photos: HAL BLAINE

In 2015, the legacy of Gold Star was depicted in a documentary, The Wrecking Crew by filmmaker Denny Tedesco, son of guitarist and studio musician, Tommy Tedesco.

This decade, Brian Wilson, Herb Alpert, Richie Furay, Mike Curb, Chris Montez, Kim Fowley, Nino Tempo, Bill Medley, Richard Sherman, Donna Loren, Jon Blair, Marky Ramone, Brian Stone, Carol Connors, Mark Guerrero, Lyle Ritz, Carol Kaye, Johnette Napolitano, Don Randi, Don Peake, David Kessel, Steven Van Zandt and myself were filmed for the documentary about Gold Star and co-owner/engineer Stan Ross directed and produced by Jonathan Rosenberg and Stan’s son, Brad Ross.

In every book and story about the life of Phil Spector, Stan Ross is mentioned along with Dave Gold, and Larry Levine. They collectively toiled for years in Gold Star, made overt and subtle sound design contributions to Phil Spector’s studio undertakings while jointly constructing the “Wall of Sound.”

Gold Star and Spector were a special force of destination. The alchemy of geography, Ross, Gold and Levine’s technical acumen combined with Spector’s stylistic confidence.

Dave Gold hails from the Boyle Heights section of East Los Angeles California.

Barbara Eden and Hal Blaine at Gold Star

Barbara Eden and Hal Blaine at Gold Star

Ross, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1928, moved with his parents to Los Angeles at age 15. Stan then enrolled at Los Angeles’ Fairfax High and graduated in 1946. Stan wrote a music column in the Fairfax Colonial Gazette called Musical Downbeat and his reporter scoops were bannered Off the Record.

When he was a teenager, Ross studied recording from a pioneer of modern disc recording Bert B. Gottschalk. Stan worked at his Electro-Vox studio for four years as an engineer and was responsible for one hit record, “Deck of Cards” by T. Texas Tyler.

“Gold Star used to be a dentist’s office,” Stan Ross reminded me in a 2001 interview we conducted. “We started pulling teeth a different way.”

Gold Star was built in 1950 and lasted until 1984 at 6252 Santa Monica Blvd until a fire destroyed the property in March 1984.

“Gold Star was built for the songwriters. They were fun, wonderful people to be around: Jimmy Van Heusen, Bobby Troup, Bob and Richard Sherman, Sammy Fain, Sonny Burke, Don Robertson, Johnny Mercer, Jimmy McHugh, Frank Loesser, Dimitri Tiomkin. We did song demos, voice-over work, radio and TV jingles,” reminisced Ross.

Stan Ross at the board at Gold Star Studios. Stan Ross Archives

Stan Ross at the board at Gold Star Studios. Stan Ross Archives

“I loved music, and I was a record buyer, and I know what I liked. If I’m going to buy a record, I want it to sound like this. So I made everything I got involved with like something I would buy.

“Our studio echo chamber gave it the wall of sound feel. Dave (Gold) built the equipment and echo chamber and personally hand-crafted the acoustical wall coating. We had so much fun with that echo chamber; it never sounded the same way twice. Gold Star brought a feeling, an emotional feeling.

“The soundboard was all tubes. And when you have tubes, you have expansion and it doesn’t distort so easy. We kept tubes on longer than anyone else. Because we understood that when a kick drum kicks into a tube it’s not gonna distort. A tube can expand.

“The microphones with tubes were better than the ones without the tubes because if you don’t have a tube and you hit heavy, suddenly it breaks ups. But when you have a tube it’s warm and emotional. It gets bigger and it expands. It allows for the impulse,” underscored Ross.

“Gold Star brought a feeling, an emotional feeling. I’ve been in other studios that were ‘too hot,’ ‘too lively.’ Some that sounded like cardboard boxes. ‘Too dead.’

“Gold Star had enough echo that if you snapped your fingers, or clapped your hands, you could actually hear it. So if that’s the way your hands clapped, then your drum sound would be the same kind of feel.Our echo chamber gave it the ‘Wall of Sound’ feel. It was smaller than most people knew.”

Stan was behind the console for Phil Spector on his 1958 Teddy Bear’s recording, “To Know Him Is To Love Him” and subsequent Spector bookings at Gold Star 1962-1966.

The history and mystery of Gold Star and previous clients in the fifties were not lost on teenage Spector when he knocked on their magical entry door.

“Phil followed in a studio tradition,” reinforced Stan. “We used Studio A. Eddie Cochran used our Studio B. Down the stairs by the parking lot. I cut ‘Tequila’ there by The Champs.

“I did a whole lot of Eddie Cochran’s records including ‘Summertime Blues,’ ‘20 Flight Rock,’ and ‘C’mon Everybody.’ The vocal of Ritchie Valens ‘Oh Donna’ was recorded at Gold Star. The backing track was done up the street at Bob Keene’s studio who owned Del-Fi Records.”

“Phil served the song. He worked for the tape. He knew what he could get away with and what he couldn’t and he appreciated whatever suggestions Larry or myself would give him. He never closed his mind to anything. He was always open-minded. He was very emotional about his records.”

Larry Levine, Ross’ cousin, who also attended Fairfax High School, was one of the house engineers at Gold Star and a crucial component in Spector’s “Wall of Sound” audio endeavors.

Levine won a 1966 Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording-Non Classical, for his work on “A Taste of Honey” performed by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.

Larry engineered albums for Eddie Cochran, The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, The Carpenters, Dr. John, and with Spector in the late 70s albums by Leonard Cohen and The Ramones. He engineered The Ramones’ End Of The Century, with Boris Menart and assisted by Bruce Gold.

“As a matter of fact,” mentioned Levine in a 2002 interview, “Phil once said to me the bane of his recording existence was the drum sound. A lot of people attribute to echo to what Phil was doing. The echo enhanced the melding of the ‘Wall of Sound,’ but it didn’t create it. Within the room itself, all of this was happening and the echo was glue that kept it together,” offered Larry, who passed away in 2008.

“As far as the room sound and the drum sound went, because the rooms were small, with low ceilings, the drum sound, unlike other studios with isolation, your drums sounded the way you wanted them to sound. They would change accordingly to whatever leakage was involved.

“The best producers are people who know what they want and know how to communicate so that all of us can strive towards their goal, while the producer is still amenable to something else that may happen along the way. In my career, I’ve worked with three great producers—Phil Spector, Herb Alpert, and Brian Wilson.”

“Let me tell you a story,” Brian Wilson divulged in a 2007 interview. “I went to Gold Star and asked Larry Levine, the engineer, ‘What is the secret of the Phil Spector echo trip?’ And Larry replied, ‘Well, we have two echo chambers under the parking lot. Phil uses both the chambers at the same time.’ So I tried that myself and it worked.

“I also wanted to know from Larry what Phil Spector did with his basses. Larry said, ‘Phil uses a standup and a Fender both at the same time. And the Fender guy used a pick.’

“So I tried it out at my session and it worked great! You also get a thicker sound putting the two basses together. I start with drums, bass, guitar and keyboards. Then we overdub the horns and the background voices.”

Don Randi played piano, keyboards, and organ on every Spector-produced/Jack Nitzsche- arranged activity at Gold Star since 1962. In addition, Randi can be heard on the Beach Boys’ album Pet Sounds, Buffalo Springfield Again, Love’s Forever Changes and The ‘68 Elvis Presley Comeback Special. Randi’s resume displays The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, Tim Buckley’s Goodbye & Hello and Frank and Nancy Sinatra.

“Gold Star was an incredible place since the first time I ever worked there,” stressed Don.

“It was friendly. And they always had a good staff there that was friendly. Between Dave Gold, Stan Ross and Larry Levine, and Doc Siegel, it was great and fun. I worked a lot with Stan and Larry. Doc Siegel got destined to do the ‘B’ sides for Phil Spector.

“Everybody playing parts and a lot of time duplication. Like on the pianos, you would have one guy doing a thing on the high end of the piano, somebody in the middle, and Phil would want the different sounds of a concert grand, and an upright, electric or a Wurlitzer. So he liked to have the spread of the different tonality. That was Phil. He understood tonality very well. And at Gold Star it was magic because of all those harmonics rising were part of the wall of sound.

“The studio can make a difference in the sound of a record. At Gold Star it was the echo chamber. Like, when someone talks about a guy being a ‘natural baseball player.’ Gold Star was a natural studio. It just blended and worked. When you went to Gold Star you just knew you were making a hit record. Jack Nitzsche was a good translator for Phil.

“As far as the music recorded and documented in Gold Star, it was because musically and lyrically and the composition and note part was brilliant. There were always great songs. The songs always told a story. The songs in themselves were films. And, especially in Phil’s case, he knew how to write them and how to produce them. And in Brian Wilson’s case, Brian always knew where he was going with it. He may have not known at the beginning, but after a while he had an idea and he developed it. We were there to help him develop it,” concluded Randi.

The epic song River Deep, Mountain High,” written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Spector, and covered by dozens of recording artists was initially arranged by Jack Nitzsche and produced by Spector on Ike & Tina Turner at Gold Star.

“Phil Spector helped write ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ and said, ‘I’ve got a song for Tina,’” Jack Nitzsche told me in a 1988 interview. “I went over to Phil’s house and went over the arrangement note by note. When Phil played me it on the piano I knew it was a great song.

We did the rhythm track in two different three-hour sessions. Even during the cutting of the track, when she was putting on a scratch vocal, Tina was singing along as we cut it. Oh, man, she was great, doing a rough, scratch vocal as the musicians really kicked the rhythm section in the ass.”

Brian Wilson, Dennis Hopper, Mick Jagger and Rodney Bingenheimer were in attendance when it was created. The 1966 45 RPM was released initially on Spector’s Philles Records label.

The tune is spotlighted in 33 1/3-House of Dreams.

In 1975 I interviewed Tina Turner for Melody Maker about this sonic revolution done without auto-tune assistance.

“’River Deep, Mountain High” was a smash in England,” recalled Tina. “The biggest change started happening when we were working around L.A. in 1966 and ran into Phil Spector. He wanted to record me and when we cut ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ Mick Jagger, who was visiting Phil at the time, was in the studio. After hearing the song he wanted us to tour England in 1966 with the Rolling Stones.

“River Deep, Mountain High” only reached number 88 in the U.S. Billboard singles chart, but a number 3 position in the UK market. John Lennon called “River Deep, Mountain High” a “masterpiece.” George Harrison provided a front jacket blurb on the Spector produced Ike & Tina Turner River Deep, Mountain High album: “It is a perfect record from start to finish. You couldn’t improve on it.”

As a teenager, Rodney Bingenheimer, now a Sirius XM deejay on Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel was a Gold Star invited guest attending countless Buffalo Springfield, Iron Butterfly, Dr. John, and Sonny & Cher sessions at the studio.

Rodney also went to Gold Star with Jimi Hendrix when The Cake was doing their debut album, driving down from Monkees’ Peter Tork’s house in the Laurel Canyon region while cruising in Jimi’s powder blue Corvette
Sting Ray.

33 1/3 – HOUSE OF DREAMS SONGLIST

1. The Birds and the Bees

2. All of You

3. All I Really Want to Do

4. Unchained Melody

5. Cherry Bomb

6. Tequila

7. Be My Baby

8. Da Doo Run Run

9. River Deep, Mountain High

10. This Guy’s in Love With You

11. It Was a Very Good Year

12. Let’s Dance

13. Rhythm of the Rain

14. Twenty Flight Rock

15. Happy Whistler

16. Rebel Rouser

17. Summertime Blues

18. He’s a Rebel

19. In a Gadda Da Vida

20. It Had to Be You

21. All I Know

22. Chanson D’Amour

23. Wouldn’t it Be Nice

24. Good Vibrations

25. The Big Hurt

26. The In Crowd

27. Ghost Riders in
the Sky

28. I Love How You Love Me

29. Grazin’ In The Grass

30. Rockin’ Robin

31. Sit Down I Think I Love You

32. La Bamba

“I loved Gold Star,” proclaimed Bingenheimer. “I played one of the tambourines on Sonny & Cher’s ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).’ I took my mother Marian to one of their sessions, ‘It’s The Little Things’ on the Good Times album soundtrack. I was later at all the Ramones’ sessions at Gold Star that Phil Spector produced.”

Buffalo Springfield recorded their debut album Buffalo Springfield at Gold Star. Doc Siegel engineered it with Tom May, produced by Charlie Greene and Brian Stone.

Richie Furay, a Buffalo Springfield co-founder, is still in awe discussing Gold Star.

“Look, walking into Gold Star studio. I’m a young kid from Ohio,” marveled Furay in a 2001 interview. “And to go in that studio, with all the history, and hear our music coming through those speakers, even though it’s a four-track machine, was bigger than life.”

Multi-instrumentalist David Kessel is currently CEO of Cave Hollywood. (cavehollywood.com) He is also a member of the band Willapa.  David is the son of influential jazz guitarist and record producer, Barney Kessel, who can be heard on dozens of jazz, pop and rock ’n’ roll recordings and was a member of the Wrecking Crew.

“I knew my dad as a record producer (Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Ricky Nelson), not just a guitarist,” reflected Kessel. David’s stepmother B.J. Baker was also a pivotal architect of classic pop and rock records from the late 1950s through the 1980s and considered one of the top background singers and vocal contractors of her era collaborating with Elvis Presley, The Crystals, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Wilson, Lloyd Price, Brian Hyland, Bobby Vee, Timi Yuro, and Sam Cooke. “She taught me a lot about how vocals should be recorded,” emphasized Kessel.

As a teenager growing up in Southern California, David, along with older brother Dan attended recording dates of The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Quincy Jones, and Sonny & Cher.

“Phil taught me how to take charge of my vision, and how to take responsibility for achieving that vision,” underlined David.

“I grew up going to Phil Spector and Sonny & Cher sessions at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood. My dad Barney would bring me and my brother Dan to the studio. It really was kind of normal progression, which was not on the plan at the time, that we became the only 2nd generation Wrecking Crew members.

“In the seventies we played regularly on records for Phil at Gold Star, from being on Dion, Leonard Cohen and The Ramones’ End of the Century there, and doing our own projects. 

“The vibe was the best from all the studios in town. Gold Star always felt like home. It captured that vibe with sound and song in a way that nobody has or will again.”

In 2010 I asked Kessel about the Gold Star world he saw in the sixties and later in the seventies when he recorded there.

“Because the total acoustics of the room for a Wall of Sound experience were just perfect. And the way that Dave Gold and Stan Ross designed the studio, they knew what they were doing. It’s not like they said, ‘Let’s roll a wall up here.’ They really had their acoustics down very early in the game.

“Of course the echo chambers and their board that was a heavy metal board, and I don’t mean like in heavy metal music. It was because of the quality of the metal inside the console board and the wiring. It was very thick and very powerful.

“Not like today where you have all the digital stuff and then you have to bring in all the boxes and try to beef it up. You know what I mean? Where at Gold Star that was the real deal.

“The metals made after World War II were sufficiently degraded from the metals before World War II, much weaker metal because they had to use so much during the war.

“It became thinner, got into aluminum, transistors. Stuff like that,” theorized Kessel. “When they have the real deal metal, the real deal magnets, and the real deal wiring, that really enhances the sound.

“And when you bring in brilliant acoustics with a powerful board and then you have Phil and his genius working the musicians and hearing those sounds in his head and being able to articulate it with the help of Larry Levine, Stan Ross and Dave Gold who were outstanding.

“Gold Star was a special unique studio and so were the guys who ran it,” summarized David.

Harvey Kubernik is an author of 16 books. Kubernik’s The Doors Summer’s Gone was published by Other World Cottage Industries and just nominated for the 2019 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research.

His anthology Inside Cave Hollywood: The Harvey Kubernik Music InnerViews and InterViews Collection Vol. 1, was published by Cave Hollywood.

In December 2018, Sterling/Barnes and Noble published Kubernik’s The Story of The Band From Big Pink to the Last Waltz. Harvey penned the liner note booklets to the CD re-releases of Carole King’s Tapestry, Elvis Presley The ’68 Comeback Special, Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish, and the Ramones’ End of the Century.

Kubernik was also an occasional food runner and provided percussion instruments and handclaps on a handful of Phil Spector-produced recording sessions at Gold Star. His album credits include The Ramones’ End Of The Century and The Paley Brothers’ Baby, Let’s Stick Together. Harvey also participated on Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man. In 1982 Kubernik eventually produced a recording session at Gold Star.

 






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