A & R Recording

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This article is about the New York Recording Studio firm. For the A&R profession, see Artists and repertoire. For the Australian bookseller, see Angus & Robertson.

A & R Recording Inc. was an American major independent studio recording company founded in 1958 by Jack Arnold[a][1] and Phil Ramone.[2][3]

History[edit]

Before founding A & R Recording in 1958, Arnold and Ramone had been working at JAC Recording, Inc.; Arnold had been a partner at JAC. The "A" and "R" initials were derived from their surnames. But also, Arnold and Ramone relished the idea that their initials and company name matched the industry acronym for "artist and repertoire," an important avocation in the recording industry.[4]

Jack Arnold ended his association with A & R Recording shortly after co-founding it, due to health issues.

Original A & R studio — 112 West 48th Street

The original studio was in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on the 4th floor of Mogull's Film & TV[b] building at 112 West 48th Street. The studio was named "Studio A1." The "A" stood for "Arnold." Manny's[c][5] — a famous music instrument retailer — was one-half of the first 3 floors; Mogull's Film & TV was the other half. Jim and Andy's Bar,[d][6] an important hangout for studio musicians was next door at 116 West 48th Street. Ramone installed an intercom from the studio to Jim & Andy's to call for musicians if someone didn't show-up.[7][4]

In the first studio, Ramone quickly gained a reputation as a good sound engineer and music producer, in particular for his use of innovative technology. According to David Simons, author, the original studio at 112 West 48th St., which was started on a shoestring budget, remains Ramone's greatest legacy.[4]

The studio was designed for the purpose of doing demos. According to Ramone, the room, 11.5 metres (38 ft) by 12 metres (39 ft), had an incredibly unique sound. He attributed much of it to the height of 3.6 metres (12 ft) and before long clients were requesting to do their final tapes there and in no uncertain terms letting it be known that this was no mere demo studio. In a short period of time, Ramone felt the need to upgrade the equipment.

Second studio, Studio A — 799 7th Avenue

In October 1967, A & R purchased Columbia's Studio A on the 7th floor at 799 7th Avenue at 52nd Street[8][9] and leased the space, which consisted of about 10,000 square feet (929.0304 m2)[10] Columbia had owned the studio since the 1930s.

Third studio — 322 West 48th Street

A & R added a third studio in the Leeds Music Corporation building at 322 West 48th Street. A & R became part owner of the building, a 6-story building, and designed recording studios on the first and second floors, named R1 and R2, respectively. The "R" stood for "Ramone." A & R also occupied the basement.[4] 322 West 48th Street is currently the home of American Federation of Musicians Local 802, the New York City musicians' union and the Jazz Foundation of America.

Launch of A & R Records

In February 1970, A & R Recording launched A & R Records,[11][12] a company that produced albums of artists that included Paul Simon, Billy Joel, George Barnes (musician) and Bucky Pizzarelli.

Satellite studios

In 1970, A & R Recording formalized two partnerships to build two satellite studios, one with Brooks Arthur (né Arnold Brodsky; born 1936)[e] in Blauvelt, New York, just across the Hudson River, north of the George Washington Bridge, and one with Norman (Norm) Fuller Vincent (1930–2014) in Jacksonville, Florida.

914 SRS
The partnership with Arthur was named "914 SRS" and was located at 34 NY Route 303, Blauvelt, New York. "SRS stood for "Sound Recording Studios." The legal structure of the partnership was in the form of a New York corporation operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of A & R Recording Inc. The entity name was "914 Sound Recording Studios, Inc." The studio, a converted gas station, opened October 1970. Arthur owned one-half, Ramone, Don Frey,[f] and Arthur Downs Ward (1922–2002) owned the other half.[13][14] They sold it in 1978 and the corporation — 914 Sound Recording Studios, Inc. — dissolved in 1982.
Vincent SRS
The partnership with Norman Vincent, et al. was named "Vincent SRS" and was located in Jacksonville, Florida, and opened November 1970. Vincent was the operator.
Closing of A & R Recording

A & R Recording closed in 1989.

Selected artists produced at A & R Recording[edit]

Performing artists produced by Ramone include Clay Aiken, Burt Bacharach, The Band, Bono, Laura Branigan, Ray Charles, Karen Carpenter, Chicago, Peter Cincotti, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Sheena Easton, Melissa Errico, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Patricia Kaas, B.B. King, Julian Lennon, Shelby Lynne, Madonna, Barry Manilow, Richard Marx, Paul McCartney, George Michael, Liza Minnelli, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Sinéad O'Connor, Fito Páez, Luciano Pavarotti (including the Pavarotti and Friends Charity Concerts in Modena Italy), Peter, Paul and Mary, June Pointer, André Previn, Diane Schuur, Michael Sembello, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, The Guess Who, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Nikki Yanofsky.

Neighborhood[edit]

In a 10-block area of midtown Manhattan during the disco era, there was "Media Recording, Hit Factory, Sony, and A&R Recording had two buildings.

  1. A & R Recording Inc.
    112 West 48th Street
    Opened by Jack Arnold and Phil Ramone 1959. Corner of 6th Avenue, next door to Jim & Andy's Bar (116 West 48th Street) and Manny's Music (156 West 48th Street), both famous musicians hangouts. Used regularly by Tom Dowd for Atlantic sessions and producer Creed Taylor for Verve. Van Morrison recorded "Brown Eyed Girl" there.
  2. A & R Studio 2 (formerly Columbia Studio A)
    799 7th Avenue
    Opened by Jack Arnold and Phil Ramone early 1968
  3. Associated Sound (now Quad Recording Studios)
    723 7th Avenue
    Near corner of West 48th Street, a few doors down from Dick Charles. The Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back," the Raindrops'
    "What A Guy" and The McCoys' "Hang On Sloopy" were cut there
  4. Bell Sound (later The Hit Factory)
    237 West 54th Street
    Founded June 1950 by Allen Weintraub and Daniel Cronin (1929–1968), both classmates from Brooklyn Technical High School; studio was located at 135 West 54 beginning June 1959; Burt Bacharach's favorite studio. Bought by Jerry Ragovoy 1968 and reopened as The Hit Factory; sold 1975 to partner Eddie Germano (né Edward F. Germano; 1941–2003); now run by Troy George Germano (born 1962), his son
  5. Century Sound
    135 West 52nd Street
    One flight up. Former radio studio. Opened by Brooks Arthur in 1967
  6. Columbia 30th Street
    207 East 30th Street
    Converted Armenian church. Opened 1949, closed mid-1982, torn-down, now an apartment building
  7. Columbia Studio A (later A & R Studio R2)
    799 7th Avenue
    Opened in the 1930s. Columbia's main facility prior to East 30th Street. Sold to A & R late 1967
  8. Columbia Studio B
    49 East 52nd Street
    Former site of CBS Radio Network building, near Madison Avenue. Opened late 1967
  9. Dick Charles
    729 7th Avenue
    Small demo studio, near corner of West 48th Street, a few doors up from Associated. Many of S'pop's favored songwriters recorded demos there
  10. Mira Sound
    145-155 West 47th Street
    On the ground floor of the Hotel America, now a Euro-style hotel. Recorded there: "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" by The Shangri-Las and "Society's Child" by Janis Ian
  11. The Power Station (now Avatar Studios)
    441 West 53rd Street
    Near 10th Avenue. Founded 1977 by Tony Bongiovi. Previously home to ConEdison (hence Power Station)
  12. RCA
    155 East 24th Street
    Near Lexington Avenue
  13. RCA Webster Hall
    125 11th Street
    In the East Village. Built late 1800s. Converted by RCA early 1950s. Now a nightclub
  14. The Record Plant (later Streetlight)
    321 West 44th Street
    Once home to Warner Brothers Pictures; opened by Gary Kellgren and Chris Stone in 1968
  15. Stea-Philips
    7th Avenue
    Corner 51st Street, close to Columbia Studio A and 1650 Broadway. Owner: Lenny Stea (né Leonard J. Stea; born 1928). The Four Seasons cut "Sherry" there
  16. Talentmasters Recording Studio
    126 West 42nd Street
    Owners: Bob Gallo and Robert (Bob) Harvey. Later bought out by Atlantic
    The Who recorded a dozen albums there
  17. World United
    1595 Broadway
    Owner: Harry Lookofsky, aka Hash Brown, father of Michael Brown of The Left Banke, who recorded "Walk Away Renée" there
  18. JAC Recording, Inc.
    152 West 58th Street
    Owner: Charles Leighton
    This is where Phil Ramone got his start

Personnel[edit]

In 1972, management of A & R included Robert Gerics (general manager & studio manager), Nick Diminno (studio manager), and Irving Joel (chief engineer). The studio was located at 322 West 48th Street.[15]

Management and shareholders
A & R Recording Inc.
  • Art Ward, president of the parent company
  • Phil Ramone, vice president & creative director
  • John Gordy, president of Visual Sounds, Inc. (VSI), A & R's video subsidiary
  • Don Frey (né Donald Gregory Frey; born 1927) had been a senior sound mixer at NBC TV in the late 1950s. He became vice president of operations at A & R Recording and ended-up being a partner at A & R for 25 years. He personally engineered sessions for Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Ike and Tina Turner, and many others. During the 1960s, Frey engineered some of the biggest commercials of the decade at A & R, including one of the Yankees theme and ads for Marlboro and Pepsi. Frey's recording sessions involved 40 and 50 people in the room. Frey, in 1988, was instrumental in rebuilding BMG's Studio A in New York.
According to a 1978 trade magazine article by studio engineer Malcolm Addey, Frey, while a mixer at NBC TV, had been moonlighting at A & R and did a lot of the installation work. His work there became more than he could handle on a part-time basis and he accepted an invitation to work full-time. Don was eventually invited to invest and became vice president in charge of operations.[3][4]
  • Brooks Arthur Productions, Inc., founded in 1999 as a California corporation, is active and based in Encino, California, and is headed by Arthur.
A & R Records (subsidiary)
  • Ed Barsky (né Edward Sydney Barsky; 1924–1993), president of A & R Records, based in Los Angeles (founded 1970)
  • Irving "Bud" Dain, vice president of A&R and promotion
  • Harriet Margulies, public relations (worked from New York)
Engineers
  • Brooks Arthur, engineer
  • Roy Cicala, engineer
  • Ami Hadani
  • David Greene, engineer, producer
  • Roy Halley, engineer
  • Tom Hidley
  • Irving Joel, chief engineer
  • Tony May, engineer
  • Elliot Scheiner, engineer, worked 7 years at A & R
  • Bill Schwartan, appointed chief engineer 1958
  • Norman Schwartz (1928–1995), studio technician & sound consultant
  • David Smith, chief engineer
  • Fred Weinberg, engineer, producer
  • Shelly Yakus, engineer
Studio managers
  • Nick Diminno, studio manager
  • Robert Gerics, general manager & studio manager
  • Mitch Plotkin, studio manager

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Jack Arnold was also known as Jack Aaron. (A Different Drummer: What Makes Me Tic, a Memoir, by Herbert Wasserman (1922–2001), Writers Club Press, 2000, pg. 134; OCLC 52229234)

  2. ^ Mogull Bros. Electrical Corp., incorporated in New York in 1923, sold radios. The incorporators were Charles (1898–1986), Leo (1894–1962), and Peter Mogull (1892–1964). Out of that, the brothers founded the Film Library, a pro and retail film sales and rentals, cinema equipment, and camera firm, first at 68 W 48th Street, then, as of 1951, at 122 W 48th Street. When A & R Recording leased its first studio at 122 W 48th, the only surviving brother, Charles, was the landlord. One of Charlie's son's, Artie Mogull (1927–2004), had been an executive for M. Witmark & Sons and a notable A&R executive producer of many rising stars in jazz and rock, among whom included Bob Dylan. In 1950, Mogull's Camera & Film Exchange Inc. sold the building at 112-114 West 48th St. to Kenchal Estates Inc. ("Manhattan Transfers," New York Times, September 23, 1950) In 1944, the building at 112-114 W 48th St. was sold by The City Bank Farmers Trust Company to 112 West 48th Street, Inc., Frederick Dreier, president. ("$77,500 Consideration," New York Sun, July 10, 1944, pg. 22, col. 7)
    Past tenants at 112-114 W 48th St. include:
    1. Winitzki Chess Club (1942), Eugenie Club (1925)
    2. In 1929, it was the Green Room Grill, one of the larges speakeasies in the Theatre District. The Friar's Club, at 106-108-110 W 48th Street, was next door
    3. In 1942, the building housed the Musical Instrument Exchange, Inc., operated by Samuel Goodman, aka Kelly Goodman
    4. Soloman Pfeiffer (1881–1936), seller of imported violins (from the late 1890s to about 1925)

  3. ^ Manny Goldrich (né Manuel Kaufman Goldrich; 1904–1968), originally a saxophone salesman, founded Manny's Musical Instruments & Accessories Inc. in 1933 on West 48th Street. In 1940 though 1959, the address was 120 W 48th St. The store endured under three generations of Goldriches. In 1999, The Goldrich heirs sold the store and the brownstone building at 156 West 48th Street to its chainstore rival across the street, Sam Ash, who, in turn, maintained Manny's as a subsidiary and retained its staff and family managers until 2009. Manny's had, until about 1969, been located at 112 West 48th Street.

  4. ^ Jim & Andy's bar was founded in 1945, presumably by partner's named Jim and Andy. Jim Koulouvaris (né James Daniel Koulouvaris; 1917–1972) bought it in 1955. From 1945 to about 1968, it had been located at 116 West 48th St. Notable employees included Pete Salvato (1908–1969), chief cook for 17 years. Rocky Mareno was Jim's bartender.

  5. ^ Brooks Arthur — as a songwriter in 1959 — used the pseudonyms Arnie Blaine and Art Barrett. From 1960 on (the last fifty-five years), he has been known as Brooks Arthur.

  6. ^ Don Frey, a former senior sound mixer at NBC, was vice president of operations at A & R Recording. Frey, in 1988, was instrumental in rebuilding BMG's Studio A in New York.

     ––––––––––––––––––––

Incline citations
  1. ^ A Different Drummer: What Makes Me Tic, a Memoir, by Herbert Wasserman (1922–2001), Writers Club Press (2000), pg. 134; OCLC 52229234
  2. ^ Temples of Sound: Inside the Great Recording Studios, by Jim Cogan & William Clark, San Francisco: Chronicle Books (2003); OCLC 49553469
  3. ^ a b "A & R Recording, New York," by Malcolm T. Addey (born 1933), Studio Sound and Broadcast Engineering, December 1978; ISSN 0144-5944
    Note: Addey is a prolific recording studio audio engineer known for is work with The Beatles at Abbey Road Studios
  4. ^ a b c d e How the Great New York Records Were Made, Dave Simons, Backbeat Books (2004); OCLC 57543979
  5. ^ "Jim and Andy's: A Musician's Bar," by Steven A. Cerra, September 4, 2014
  6. ^ Playing The Changes: Milt Hinton's life in stories and photographs, by Milt Hinton, Vanderbilt University Press (2008); OCLC 156975394
  7. ^ Meet Me At Jim & Andy's: Jazz Musicians and Their World, by Gene Lees, Oxford University Press (1988); OCLC 17677072
  8. ^ Making records: the Scenes Behind the Music, Phil Ramone & Charles L. Granata, New York: Hyperion Books (2007), pps. 136–137; OCLC 174143979
  9. ^ How Does It Sound Now? by Gary Gottlieb, Course Technology (2010), pg. 57; OCLC 535576372 (of Legendary_Engineers_and_Vintage_Gear.pdf pdf copy)
  10. ^ "Studio Space Leased," New York Times, October 16, 1967
  11. ^ "1972 A&R Studios Setting Up Small Satellites", by Radcliffe Joe (died 2004), Billboard, September 19, 1970, pps. 3 & 8
  12. ^ "Fla. Studio Opening Marks A&R 'Bring Facility to Artists' Move", Billboard, October 24, 1974, pg. 10
  13. ^ "Classic Tracks: Janis Ian's "At Seventeen," by Gary Eskow, Mix, June 1, 2005 (retrieved March 30, 2013)
  14. ^ "Legendary Producer Phil Ramone Dies at Age 79," by Mike Barnes, Billboard, March 30, 2013 (retrieved March 31, 2013)
  15. ^ "1972 International Directory of Recording Studios", Billboard, June 10, 1972, pg. RS 38