Wally World

I’m thinking I joined around November of 1969, Al Schmidt was doing the Airplane, with Pat Ieraci as second.

Studio “C” was the only one open, the rest were being completed. What a exciting time! The staff was me,

Russ Gary, George Herdandiz, Ginger Mews, Mel Tanner.

Tenderloin History Museum

Hello. I am curating the development of new Tenderloin History Museum in San Francisco, which will eventually live in the lobby of the Cadillac Hotel in the Tenderloin. As part of this exhibit, we will highlight Wally Heider Recording in SF. I am trying to track down any objects/memorabilia from Wally’s recording period on Hyde St. Perhaps he has family members who would be interested in a museum such as this celebrating his extensive contribution to music in San Francisco and might be able to point me in some directions.
Continue reading Tenderloin History Museum

Biographical information about Wally from his nephew, George Heider


I’m his nephew.  Otto W. Heider Sr. had two sons: Wally Heider and Otto W. Heider Jr.  Otto Jr. is my father.  I was born in 1951; I remember seeing Wally as a kid.

1. Wally was born May 20, 1922.  His father, Otto W. Heider Sr, was the town lawyer in Sheridan, Oregon.  Otto came from a poor first generation German family (his father was a shoemaker from Bavaria with about nine children from two marriages) and put himself through law school at the University of Oregon as a starving student.  Otto worshiped financial success, and wanted Wally to join his Sheridan law practice.  My father, Otto W. Heider Jr, was born in 1925.  Wally and Otto Jr. did not like each other much, particularly in their later years.

2. Wally graduated from Sheridan High School just prior to World War II, probably 1940.  He attended U of O for a couple of years prior to the War.  I’ve seen pictures of Wally in an army uniform; I suspect he enlisted.  I don’t think he saw combat.

3. Wally graduated from U of O in 1946 or 1947.

4. He passed the Oregon Bar in 1955, and joined Otto Sr. in the Sheridan law practice.  Sheridan is a small town, probably 1400 people at the time, and Wally hated the practice of law, probably also working with his father, who was a bit of the teutonic German father.

5. In a huge family mess, Wally left the Sheridan law practice and moved to LA in late summer of 1959.  Otto W. Heider Sr. owned the building that housed the law firm; last I checked, the windows were still painted “Otto W. Heider & Son”. Otto Sr. wouldn’t speak of Wally for years.

6. Once Wally was successful and written up in Esquire magazine, Otto Sr. was proud of him and happy to speak about him.

7. After Wally left the recording business, he started a “Hindsight Records” company, with, I believe, the goal of releasing previously unreleased recordings.  He had huge rows of vinyl records stored at Otto Sr’s house in Sheridan.  Wally had moved to Portland by then.

7. Wally died in March 1989 of brain cancer.  He is buried in the Heider family plot in Sheridan, Oregon.

Hope that helps fill in the cracks!

Cheers, George

Stories of Wally Encouraged

Happy New Year,

In 2009 I resolve to continue to improve this site. I have upgraded the blog and will update the gallery software. I haven’t found a “skin” that looks good, shows author comments, and is easy to use yet – but there are hundreds of good Gallery themes out there; I’ll find it. I’ve also heard from a family member and hope to have more contact with her soon.

If you have a story about Wally or the studios, please post!

Please contact me if you need a user/password to post a story about Wally or a user/password to upload some photos and scans of WHR related items. I used to have an auto-enroll form here, but it became a spam magnet, with hundreds ‘signing up’ with automated passwords and no intention of posting anything but advertising.

anyway, thanks for stopping by!

stephen barncard

Wally’s 2:00 AM Phone Call

I knew who it was in seconds after I was awakened by Wally’s 2:00 AM phone call. Wally had heard that I had a rara avis series of recordings of the Stan Kenton orchestra, and wanted to come to Rhode Island with his equipment to make copies. He told me that he wanted to record them and make LPs of the material. I resisted. He persisted. We went back and forth. I told him that I did not want to run afoul of both the Kenton family and the copyright laws. He said that he did it all the time. Besides, it would be himself who would have to deal with the Estate and the law, not me. I told him that I did not think that it would be ethical to have him access what I had, given to me in the belief that I would not produce recordings of what I had. I don’t believe we parted friends — only once more after that, had I heard from another friend of Wally’s, that he spoke of the incident and thought that I was being naive, since so many others did not mind assailing the copyright laws. We never had a chance to talk about our differences again…he passed away. Some one, some day, should do more than these sort of recollections…a full blown biography. He forever changed that ways in which “live” and studio recordings were made.

Tony Agostinelli

Wally’s 5 seconds on film

When the Who did their amazing set that night, nobody knew about the smoke bomb inside Keith Moon’s drum set, especially Wally Heider, who up until that time had placed his set of condensers and dynamics on stage as was the norm.

At the very end of the song, Wally steps into history as he avoids running into a dancing Roger Daltry and dodges guitar-shrapnel from Keith Townsend’s antics as he rushes to save his microphones from certain destruction.

VIDEO CLIP: Wally Heider and the Who at Monterey Pop

Thanks Wally, you saved my life

April 10, 2008
Wally Heider saved me from a life of electronic drudgery and obscurity when in 1973 Ken Hopkins and Grey O’Dell hired me to work at the SF studio. I had spent a little time at the 245 Hyde St. address during my school days, assisting an independent mixer and my good friend Neil Schwartz. Neil brought me in for a James Brown date and later we worked with Ty Porter on demos with groups like “CRACKIN”?, “COAL TRAIN”?.

Upon graduating from Heald College, just as I was about to accept my sentence, er, I mean “position”? with a digital safe company in San Jose (bend over sucker), my phone rang with a call that changed my life for good. Ken Hopkins, the Studio manager, asked me if I were interested in joining the Wally Heider Staff. (Duh!) It was at this point I met Wally for the first time and was completely overwhelmed by the force of his personality. What a guy! What a boss!
Continue reading Thanks Wally, you saved my life

Any one from the old days?

My name is Roger Standridge and I worked for Wally Heider from 1966 to 1972. I just saw an article in the LA times about Buddy Miles and the Band of Gypsys live date at the Filmore East. It was New Years Eve 1969-70 and I worked that date. I didn’t mix that one and I forgot who did. We all drank Cold Duck and ate Pizza afterwards.
Looking at the site, the only one I recognize is Ray Thompson. I worked a lot of dates with him! From the dates it looks like he passed away in 1999. Is that true?
I used to have a ton of photos from the old days. I always carried my old Nikon F. Unfortunately they all went away years ago.
It would be good to hear from some of the people who were around in those days.

The Night I met Wally

Three weeks after graduating from San Francisco State College in June of 1977 I found myself working at Filmways/Heider Studios in Hollywood. The job paid minimum wage and in those days you could still rent a place in Hollywood on that salary. Ok, a little overtime was required, but we were all young and eager. We couldn’t get enough of it.

While I was ecstatic much of the time, the place was riddled with contention. There were the Heider people and the Filmways people, each having a different view of how the company should move forward. This small family oriented recording studio was now part of a large corporation and people just didn’t like the shift. We had walls lined with certified gold. Ray Thompson was a legend and each week Ray, Biff Dawes, Dennis May and Paul Sandweiss would storm the studio. They would grab all of the best gear and off they would go to record another great live album.

Continue reading The Night I met Wally

My memory of Wally – Larry Sem

In 1970 I was a DJ at AFN in Berlin Germany. The station had a extensive record library, with AFRTS recordings that dated back to the old radio soap operas. Wally was to record a concert by Creedence Clearwater Revival and he showed up at the station a few days early, so he could go through the library to “document” the recordings that were there. I’m not sure what exactly he was looking for, but he was taking extensive notes, with the help of the music librarian at the station.

When I mentioned to him that I would like to conduct an interview with CCR for my radio show, Wally said something like “meet me at the gate at 7:30 and I’ll see that you get your interview.” I went to the gate with the station engineer, Wolfgang Wunderlich, and Wally met me at the gate, in a panic. He was in a cab or limo, I can’t remember, but he said “jump in.” Once we got in, he asked if we had seen a “big truck.” We said we hadn’t, and then he instructed the drive to drive around the concert hall. Suddenly, he let out a sigh of relief…THERE WAS THE TRUCK. It seems his recording truck was delayed crossing (communist) East Germany on it’s way to Berlin for the concert.

Although he had a lot on his mind that night, he made sure that Wolfgang and I got backstage for the interview. Unfortunately for me, the band had just done an AFN interview in Frankfurt and declined my offer. Wally felt pretty bad about that, but said I was welcome to stay back stage and allowed my to walk around on the stage when the roadies were setting up (although I was asked to get out of the way at one point). When the concert started, Wally gave us a quick tour of the recording truck and then we sat back and watched the concert from back stage! As a wide-eyed young DJ and music lover, I was totally on cloud 9.

I also had the chance to discuss music with him during his time at the station. He was quite a guy, and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone since who loved what he did as much as Wally. I’ll always remember how nice he was to me, and the experience of the “lost truck.”

Swingtime Video

Just a quick note. I spent a lot of time with Wally during his last 15 years. I have lots of wonderful stories with him. I’m also the one who did all the engineering, film transfer setups and editing, graphics and final mastering on the complete “Swingtime Video” Series. I accompanied Wally on many of the trips as we gathered the footage for the shows and transfered the films to video. Then we spent many, many hours editing the series. This was done in my studio in Oregon except for one which was edited in San Diego. We both went to Indianapolis then to set up for duplication. Audio was paramount for the series and Wally flew in other trusted audio engineers to double check the tests I made. Such was Wally’s style. Perfection was hardly good enough.

Like most of those I knew who worked with Wally; the pay was awful but the perks were out of this world. Wally, also was directly responsible for me starting my own video studio and gave me some of the most wonderful memories of my life. I’d love to visit with anyone about Wally at anytime and share these memories.

When Wally passed away I received a large number of Swingtime Video copies. I’ve kept them all these years in his memory but, as I’m now getting on in age myself, I suspect I’ll need to pass them on rather than let some probate attorney send them to the landfill.
Virgil Sipes w7yen@aol.com

PS. Wally is buried in a small cemetery in Sheridan, Oregon. I did attended his graveside ceremony and he’s now there with his parents.

When Vinyl Ruled

I just found this site by chance and was surprised to find myself mentioned here in April 2005 with a link to the When Vinyl Ruled 2000-AES historical exhibit I was involved with in Los Angeles back in September 2000. Time certainly does fly, as it is really hard for me to believe that it has been seven years since that event. Although I never met Wally and he had been gone over ten year by the time of this exhibit, I feel that Wally made several significant contributions to the success of this exhibit which I will mention for the benefit of those who did not have the opportunity to visit the exhibit.

First, if you look closely at the picture below you will see a framed picture to the left of the UA console. That picture shows Wes Montgomery sitting and Orrin Keepnews of Riverside Records standing in front of the very same UA console on June 25, 1962 in the backroom of Tsubo a club in Berkeley. Although Wally is not shown in the photograph, Wally’s live recording of this same performance through the UA console shown onto an Ampex 351-2 was released as the Riverside LP “Full House.”

Paul Speaks At When Vinyl Ruled

Elsewhere on this site Dale Manquen eloquently tells the story of his trip with Wally to the 1966 Monterey Jazz festival with the prototype Mincom recorder. Even though I first met Dale in 1975 when I was in his very first professional tape recorder theory and maintenance class and I have heard many of his wonderful stories, the first time I have heard this story is when I visited this website. In 2000 when I was planning the AES exhibit I contacted Dale, asked if would mind providing some of his 3M artifacts for the display, and he told me he would be pleased to do so. Dale brought some photographs and machine prototype assemblies which were of much interest to many visitors.

Now once again if you look closely at the picture you will see three 1/2 inch tape boxes leaning in front of the Ampex 300 door on the lower right. Amazingly enough those three 3-track tapes shown were also recorded by Wally live at the Monterey Jazz Festival, except earlier on September 22-23, 1963. Had I only known in 2000 that Dale had been with Wally at the 1966 Festival I would not only have asked him about his experience, but I also would have made sure that Dale heard playbacks of the tapes that I had. Naturally the tapes sounded fantastic and went over very well with the many exhibit visitors. The artists were Jack and Charlie Teagarden with Pee Wee Russell and two sets by the Harry James Orchestra with vocalist Ruth Price.

Thanks to Stephen for setting up this site, to Dale for sharing so much knowledge with us over the years, and to Wally for helping to make When Vinyl Ruled a success.

Wikipedia article on Wally

There’s a new Wikipedia article which needs YOUR input to flesh it out. I think Wally deserves a mention but I know nothing about his biographical details and very little about his business dealings.

Also, Wally Heider Studios page is very short on content. Needs your help to save it from “speedy deletion.”

Wikipedia article – click here

Please take a look and add more content.


the future of hyde street studios

It appears the condo project isn’t going to happen for a long while, if ever. The neighborhood is still too funky and the economy is in the shitter. Good news for Hyde Street Studios.


This is an email I just (Mar 15 2008) got from Jeff Cleland at Hyde Street studios, the occupants of the original SF Wally Heider Studios building.

From: “Jeff Cleland” info@hydestreet.com
Subject: the future of hyde street studios

You were sent this because I thought you might have some interest as to what becomes of the building that currently houses Hyde Street Studios, as well as a number of other music related businesses. As you may be aware, the building at 245 Hyde St. was recently sold to a real estate developing firm in Oakland, which has plans to gut the interior of the building, add two additional floors, and turn it into condos.

The San Francisco Planning Department is currently preparing a report on the property that could significantly effect the building’s final outcome. Continue reading the future of hyde street studios

My First Meeting with Wally

I was working at Filmways/Heider Recording in 1978 as an aspiring engineer. They had us doing everything but what I wanted to do. After 5Pm we all had a chance to answer the phone system. One night this guy calls up for Ray Thompson’s home phone number and I wouldn’t give it out since we were told to not do that. The next day some man stuttering comes up to me and asks if I was the one who took his call. I said yes and he said “Hi I’m Wally Heider! and I owe you one”. Anyway, it was interesting for the short time I was there.


About posting….

I’ve seen this happen a couple of times – a person writes a piece for the blog and it apears password protected. It’s not you — it’s this ambiguious WordPress software. If you are viewing an edit/author page, then you are already ‘connected’ and recognized – you do NOT need to put anything in the PASSWORD field. This is only for private messages, which we don’t want anyway. So please ignore the ‘post password’ field on the WRITE POST page until I can find a way to defeat it.

Go ahead and post right away, however…

It can take up to 12 hours for me to get to authorizing someone’s registration, and I approve each person independently. After I see that the person is ‘real’ or I know who you are, I will go ahead and grant authoring privleges. From then on, you may post away with no more checking. I’ve already avoided a lot o spambots this way.

Also I’ll mention to the lurkers that it is not necessary to register if you don’t plan to post or comment. But it’s always nice if you do.

stephen barncard

How I met Wally

1970; I was working at National Recording in New York. National was in the building torn down to make room for Trump Towers. One day Duke Ellington and his brother Mercer came into the studio to record a few compositions with a new sax player. Johnny Hodges had just died and the poor guy was up against a legend.

The session should have been handled by Frank Kulaga but he was sick that day and I was free. The session went very well and at the end a man approached me and introduced himself as a friend of Wally Heider. He asked if it would be okay to tell Wally about me and the session. Two weeks later Wally enters National, introduced himself to the office staff and asked to speak with me. I was busy recording some tracks with another Jazz great; Chico Hamilton.

My wife Cag was working in the office and quickly pulled Wally into the hall fearing for my potential unemployment. We met at a local restaurant for lunch and after 15 minutes he offered me a job in Los Angeles as a staff engineer working in his newest Studio 4. He said it would be finished in about four months. I agreed to move and thought 4 months was enough time to tie up loose ends and move on. Two weeks later he called a told me he wanted me to report to The Johnny Cash Show in Nashville in two weeks. I reminded him of the 4 month time frame. I asked him to give me some time to think it over. He agreed and called me the following afternoon for my answer. Obviously I agreed. I’ll tell you more in a few days.

All my best to everyone who shared that magical time with that one in a million Wally,

Peter Granet tonmeister2005-AT-netzero-DOT-com