Sigma Sound Studios

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Sigma Sound Studios Inc. was an American music recording studio founded by recording engineer Joseph Tarsia in 1968. Located at 212 N. 12th Street in Philadelphia, PA it was one of the first studios in the country to offer 24-track recording and the first anywhere to successfully employ console automation. Tarsia was formerly chief engineer at Philadelphia's Cameo-Parkway Studios.[1] On April 15, 1972, singer-songwriter and pianist Billy Joel played an hour long concert at Sigma Studios. The recording of "Captain Jack" from this event received extensive radio play in the Philadelphia area, long before Joel became widely known and helped him establish a national following. In 1977 Tarsia opened Sigma Sound Studios of New York at 16 50 Broadway. Madonna used the New York studios to record her 1983 debut album, Madonna From its beginning Sigma Sound Studios was strongly associated with Philadelphia soul and the sound of Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International Records (its driving rhythm a precursor to disco music), as well as the classic, sophisticated sounds of Thom Bell. Both featured large productions with strings and horns creating what became known as the “Philadelphia Sound”. Their success attracted artist and producers from across the US and as far as Europe and Japan, all coming to capture “the Sigma magic”. By the late 70’s Sigma, was operating ten music rooms on a 24-7 schedule. Sigma’s long time GM, Harry Chipetz managed the business operations and work hand in hand with Tarsia in developing a staff that at its peak numbered close to fifty. Sigma is credited with well over 200 gold and platinum awards with a client list that begins with Aretha Franklin and ends with ZZ Top. David Bowie recorded much of his album Young Americans in August 1974 at Sigma Philly. Tarsia sold the New York studios in 1988 and in 2003 sold the 212 N 12th Street location but still retains name Sigma Sound Studios. The unclaimed tapes from Sigma’s 35 year old tape library are now part of The Drexel University Audio Archive. Much of Sigma Sound Studios history can be found in the Temple University Library Archives.


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