One of my many passions is music. To sketch something as ephemeral as music seems a daunting task. So I needed to find an anchor image.
There are many locations that are pilgrimage sites for music devotees. Many of these sites are in the Bay Area reflecting the flowering music scene stemming from the 1960’s
One of these Mecca’s of Music is on an unassuming side street in Sausalito, just north of San Francisco. It’s an odd building looking like it would not be out of place in a futuristic western or as massive palace built of driftwood on Stinson Beach. It really is an odd wooden facade for the amazing music that was created and recorded on the inside.
This is the Record Plant and many well know artists recorded albums here in the recording studios. These albums a few classics and one is monumental album.
The original Record Plant was founded in 1968 in New York City and it was soon followed by another studio in Los Angeles with the same name that was opened in 1969. The owners wanted another studio that was an oasis from the music scenes, and distractions, of New York and LA. One October 28, 1972 they opening the Record Plant in Sausalito, on 2200 Marinship Way, just a short distance where Otis Redding wrote” Sitt’in on the Dock of the Bay” on rock promoter Bill Graham’s houseboat in August of 1967.
What made the Record Plant studios different is that it provided a warm and comfortable space to create music. The studio even included a jacuzzi. Musicians stayed in houses in Sausalito or in nearby Mill Valley.
Many well known local Bay Area musicians recorded albums here including: New Riders of the Purple Sage, the Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Marty Balin, the Doobie Brothers, Huey Lewis and the News (Sports), Jefferson Airplane, Journey, John Fogerty (Centerfield), Santana, and Metallica (Load and ReLoad).
Other notable artists from around the world also recorded albums here including: Bob Marley and the Whalers, America (the group ironically formed in Germany), Heart, Van Morrison, Jimmy Cliff, Price (he recorded his debut album For You here), John Lee Hooker, Whitney Houston (her self-titled debut album), Stevie Wonder (the amazing Songs in the Key of Life), Rick James (he recorded the song Super Freak here), Mariah Carey, and the Dave Mathews Band.
But the one album, that was recorded in Studio A in this redwood-sided studio, that stands out is Rumours by Fleetwood Mac (1977). This Grammy winning album has sold over 45 million copies worldwide and is the fifth largest selling album in American history. It includes the hits: “Dreams”, “Go Your Own Way”, “Don’t Stop”, “The Chain”, and “You Make Loving Fun.”
The album was largely recorded here from February to August 1976. This album was forged out of strife and drama. The bass and keyboard player, John and Christine McVie had recently been divorced, and the couple, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, were in the midsts of separation. Out of these tempestuous times in the odd wooden recording studio in Sausalito, came one of the best albums of the 1970s.
Music writer, Patrick McKay wrote of Rumours, “What distinguishes Rumours—what makes it art—is the contradiction between its cheerful surface and its anguished heart. Here is a radio-friendly record about anger, recrimination, and loss.”