Russ Gary

Russ Gary’s Experiences with Wally Heider

Hollywood

WHeider_585When Wally Heider was an assistant engineer at United/Western Studios on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, he was the biggest big band enthusiast on the planet and would take his portable tape recorder to gigs and record the show so the guys in the band could hear their performance. He kept the recordings for his own enjoyment. He made friends in all the big bands of the day, and when bands came to United/Western to record, they would ask for Wally as their engineer. Thus, Wally’s career took off.

Wally opened his first studio, Studio One – an overdub/mixing room, at the corner of Cahuenga and Selma in Hollywood. Remote recording came first, however, and other stories will be told about the company’s remote recording adventures.

Wally later built Studio Three at the same location. The story of Studio Three’s creation goes something like this: Bill Putnam’s Western Studio Three was one the hottest (most single hits) studios in town and Wally wanted that hit sound for his new room. He booked a half hour of time at Western Three, measured the room, copied the surfaces and control room as much as possible, and built his own Studio Three.

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This is part two of this article. To see part one, go to http://wallyheider.com/wordpress/archives/rebel/39/

San Francisco

Russ Gary in Studio C in San Francisco, 1970

Between late 1968 and early 1969 I made several trips to San Francisco to help prepare the studios for opening day.

The original staff members included studio manager Mel Tanner, formerly an engineer at Coast Recorders in San Francisco. Ginger Mews ran the traffic office and Harry Sitam was the tech engineer. George Fernandez joined the group a short time prior to opening day. Although based in Hollywood, Frank DeMedio remained the chief tech engineer.

Wally put me up in the Lafayette Hotel (now the Midori) on Hyde Street, directly across from the studio. Well, the Lafayette was not exactly deluxe accommodations. I only slept in the Lafayette, however, and spent all my time working in the studios. Most weekends I went home to Southern California.

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The Making Of The Sound
By Jim Crockett
FROM CALIFORNIA LIVING MAGAZINE
inside of the SF EXAMINER November 8,1970

The uninviting black Hyde Street door is lettered very simply: Wally Heider Recordings. Behind it, though, lies a vast, million dollar studio complex, where many of the country’s finest rock and jazz musicians gather to record new albums.

Established less than a year ago by sound engineer Wally Heider, the place is a mixture of feelings, tensions, business and good times. Once an attorney, Heider got into the business over a decade ago when he left the bar to tape records for Elvis Presley – and later, Johnny Cash, Tom Jones, The Supremes and others. Though he spends much of his time in Los Angeles, Heider still manages, once or twice a week, to visit his San Francisco studios and listen to super rock groups like Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival cut their latest records.

Inside Heider’s studio the vibes are good, though sometimes heavy. Jayne Martin, Heider’s twenty-one-year-old receptionist, says she simply sits around all day eating Wheat Thins. But the truth is, she keeps the whole operation – musicians and producers – together. In fact, today she’s scheduling recording times, keeping track of bills, setting up sessions, and so on. In the background, the screaming guitars and roaring drums of Blue Cheer can be heard, as engineer, producer and musicians work over each previously recorded song to balance the sound properly for their next album. Tapes start and stop a hundred times. Over and over again. Yet Jayne and the others, scurrying from room to room, hardly even notice.

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