I started with Frank on Jan. 3, 1975 (coincidentally, Stephen Stills' birthday) sitting as Kerry McNabb's second engineer until Kerry retired from FZ a few sessions later. I was an eager beaver. The first night, I set up 12 mics for a guitar solo overdub in Studio C. Some of them, AKG 414s, were on Star Booms raised to within six inches of the ceiling in each corner of the huge Studio C room. I think Kerry and Frank indulged me - until they heard how cool each mic sounded. "Po-Jama People" on the One Size Fits All album. Stayed working for FZ through Bongo Fury, Zoot Allures and Studio Tan and Joe's Garage etc. up until about mid-1977. Lots of growth during that time. Lots of stories, too. By the way, Frank and I always argued about compression on the cymbals. "Arf," he said.
Met and began working with Stephen Stills in September of 1976. He was just off the aborted Stills/Young Tour and looking to do a solo album. We ended up working together on a lot of different projects, including the CSN reunion album which actually came as a result of Graham and David coming in to Studio C to hear some of Stephen's new material for this solo album. The photo to the rght is from the February 7, 1979 first-ever multitrack digital recording of a major artist using the 3M Digital System. Little did we know. We were part of opening Pandora's Digital Box. And now we have MP3s and garbage audio to pay for that.
What a tremendous opportunity: working with two of the stellar guitarists in the Golden Age. In many ways, Stephen and FZ could not have been more different. I guess I would characterize Stephen as a (somewhat) tortured artist: always seeking to capture internal emotion or feeling on the recording and always frustrated that the product never quite got there. (Of course, it never can. It's impossible to actually transmute pure emotive experience into physical reality of sound.) Frank, on the other hand, was the consummate craftsman. Making records, to Frank, was like putting together a complex puzzle and he knew it would only get so far toward perfection. Recording a song was a mathematical exercise for FZ. For Stephen, it was catharsis.
Original Track Sheet for "Run From Tears" from the 1977 album CSN.
There are three track sheets total because we expanded to three 24-track machines locked together in sync. This one is just for the basics. Stephen and I used 3M M-79 24-track machines. Liked their punchy sound. We used Ampex 456 GrandMaster 2" tape though. Using Ampex tape on a 3M machine tweaked the sensibilities of the 3M engineers who came to observe the digital session in 1979. After the digital session, I found my assistant engineer, the amazing Phil Jamtaas, in Studio B. He was winding all the Ampex tape off onto 3M reels. He told me it was at the instruction of RPLA owner Chris Stone. The 3M guys were probably threatening to pull their sponsor support or something.
Record Plant Remote Truck - July, 1980 in Lake Tahoe at Harrah's. Recorded Glen Campbell and Tanya Tucker for a couple weeks. With Ricky Sanchez, Paul Broucek and maintenance? Maybe Rock n Roll Sandweiss. Damn, just noticed - Sanchez has his butt on my anvil cases.
With the great Al Hirt, Studio A, Westlake Audio. During Barry Manilow Swing Street sessions.