My First Encounter with Wally

I first met Wally at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966. But first let me set the stage…

I grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico and attended New Mexico State University. I loved electromechanical gadgets, and I began a lifelong romance with tape recorders when I was in high school. My first recorder was a Masco recorder that I bought from a newspaper ad for $25. I did all kinds of modifications to this machine and my later Concertone 1401 and Magnecord PT-6R. When I was ready to graduate, I interviewed all the normal campus recruiters from the oil and aerospace companies (and the CIA). I also took a wild fling at finding a job in tape recorders, writing letters to Honeywell, 3M and Ampex.

As a result, I was invited by 3M to St. Paul to interview someone named John T. Mullin. I had no idea what Jack’s historical contributions were, nor had I ever been involved in a professional recording session. (Most of my recording was just disk-to-tape copies of friends’ records.) For some reason, Jack liked me and offered me a job. If I had known the odds against me landing that job, I never would have tried! I moved to St. Paul in May of 1965.

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Barncard Talks about the early days at Heiders SF

This is an excerpt from an unfinished and as yet incomplete interview with Stephen Barncard conducted by Matt Greenwald in 1998. Parts One, Two and Three of the interview can be found at the Barncard site.

This excerpt picks up where Barncard is answering a question about his 6 month residence in LA in 1968.

A: Sunset Sound was about four blocks away, and we were about two blocks down from Heider’s on Cahuenga. Had I known, I would have been knocking on the doors and just asked for a job, but I didn’t know where to start. There was a demand for someone like me in independent recording and they needed people, but I didn’t know that at the time.

Q: This must have been around the time CSN were recording their first album, right?

A: Yeah, right around that time they were doing their first record with Bill Halverson but I didn’t know that, and I was a bit unsure about LA, anyway. When my girlfriend, Ellen Burke came out to join me for Christmas, we got fearful of earthquakes and decided to go back to Kansas City by way of San Francisco. When we got up there, it was really more of what I was looking for. The air was cleaner, the musical atmosphere better — What a city!

During this trip, I saw The Grateful Dead for the first time on New Year s eve–(December 31, 1968) at The Fillmore. I had never liked their records very much. Seeing them live, I went “Woah! Who’s that groovy guy with the beard singing ‘St. Stephen’ and ‘Dark Star’?” It was great. I actually taped it. I had a little Norelco tape recorder with an SM 57. I guess I was one of the first tapers, it just wasn’t a big deal back then, nobody minded. I wish I still had the tape; it was either stolen or lost. Anyway, the show left an impression on me. So did San Francisco. My girlfriend and I went back to Kansas City for a little while, I went back to KUDL/KCJC-FM and then that first CSN record came out.

Q: This is mid-1969, right?

A: Right. And I heard those voices and said, “My god, they got a 16 track!”. I could tell that they doubled or tripled the voices…plus the guitars, plus the bass, etc. So after 6 months in Kansas City, I decided that if I wanted to make records, I had to get back to the West Coast. I had to make a choice: East Coast, Woodstock, or West Coast, Bill Graham’s ‘Wild West.’ I blew off Woodstock, flew to San Francisco, stayed with some friends, grabbed a phone book and opened it up to ‘recording studios’, and I saw Wally Heider’s listed and thought, ‘okay, this is only a few blocks away.’ I went over there and talked to a very nice guy named Mel Tanner who was the general manager, and he gave me a tour of the place. They had one studio operating, which was Studio C. Studios A and D were still under construction.

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GOOD TIME MUSIC: The Early Days of Kama Sutra

The Kama Sutra/Buddah Records Story
By Bob Hyde
Last update: April 11, 2000

This story is copyright © 1993 by Bob Hyde, and is used by permission of the author.

Charting the history of any record label — much less two or three — is a precarious occupation at best. A hit record makes ordinary people heroes while a stiff causes the arrow of blame to spin madly, looking for a suitable target. Some success in the music business comes from sheer luck; some is the result of hard, diligent work, and some comes from what can only be described as a “genius” for the medium.