The studio was opened in 1969 by Albert Grossman, manager of Bob Dylan, The Band, Janis Joplin and Todd Rundgren. Grossman served as the director until his death in 1986, after which time directorship was assumed by his wife, Sally Grossman.
The studio did a great deal of demo work, and very little commercial advertising work, catering to its star-powered pedigree. The two-hour drive from New York City, a "retreat" for some artists, combined with residences owned by Albert Grossman, amplified this value.
Being adjacent to Woodstock, artists recording at Bearsville would frequently perform, often under a pseudonym, at local venues such as the Joyous Lake.
Most of Grossman's artist roster from Bearsville Records recorded at the studio. Notably including (alphabetically) The Band, Elizabeth Barraclough, Brian Briggs, Paul Butterfield, Bobby Charles, Foghat, The Johnny Average Band (The Falcons), NRBQ, Todd Rundgren and Utopia, Randy VanWarmer, Nicole Wills, Tony Wilson, and Jesse Winchester.
"Bearsville Sound Studio", as it was commonly called, built a client roster outside of Bearsville Records including (alphabetically) 10cc, Rory Block, Jeff Buckley, Cheap Trick, Cinderella, Alice Cooper, Boz Scaggs, Crack The Sky, The dB's, Divinyls, Fear Factory, Foreigner, Huey Lewis and the News, Danny Gatton, The Fabulous Rhinestones, Icon, The Isley Brothers, matt pond PA, New York Dolls, Orleans, Natalie Merchant, Phish, Pretty Maids, The Psychedelic Furs, Simple Minds, Bonnie Raitt, R.E.M., The Pretenders, The Rolling Stones, John Sebastian, Senses Fail, Patti Smith, Spirit, They Might Be Giants, The Tubes, The Vines, XTC, 50 Cent and many others.
Studio managers included (chronologically) Susan Palmer, Jim Marron, George James, Griff McRee, Ian Kimmet, Mark McKenna, Chris Laidaw and Chris Hansen.
Chief engineers included (chronologically) Ted Rothstein, Michael Guthrie, Eddie Ciletti, Shep Siegel, Ken McKim, Victor Segal and George Cowan.
In-house studio staff production and engineering talent included (alphabetically): George Carnell, George Cowan, Tom Edmonds, Chris Hansen, John Holbrook, Ian Kimmet, Chris Laidlaw, Ken Lonas, Mark McKenna, Ray Niznick, Jim Rooney, John Simon, Todd Vos, and others.
The Speare Road facility contained two studios: Studio B, fitted with a heavily modified Quad-8 in the late 1970s and early 1980s; and Studio A, a much larger and unique acoustic space.
- Studio B
Studio B was the primary recording and mixing space until 1981. It was originally designed by John Storyk. There were originally quad Westlake/601-style monitors oriented such that each looked like the iconic Bearsville Bear logo; the LF drivers as "eyes", their ports as "ears", the HF driver as a "nose", and the horn as a "mouth". In 1982, studio B underwent a major renovation. The acoustic concept was designed by George Augspurger. The Quad-8 was removed and a Neve 8058 console took its place, along with many upgrades to equipment and facility. In 1985, Bob Clearmountain chose Bearsville Studios as his primary east coast recording facility. In response to Clearmountain's involvement, an SSL 4000E console was installed.
- Studio A
The Studio A space was used for rehearsal and pre-production of the 1978 Rolling Stones "Some Girls" tour. In the late 1970s, it was pressed into service as a second recording space as a joint venture between Albert Grossman and John Holbrook (AKA Brian Briggs). In 1982, the Studio A control room was fitted with a custom 40 channel Neve 8088 that had originally been built for The Who.
- Other facilities
The Turtle Creek barn was located down the hill off of Ricks Road. It originally functioned only as a rehearsal space. Then, in 1994, it was converted to a full recording studio, with a newly constructed George Augpurger-designed control room added on. A 36 channel API Legacy console was installed.
A separate Utopia Video facility behind the Bear Cafe became operational in 1981 after it outgrew the logistics operating within Studio A in 1979 and 1980.
The studio was converted into a private residence and an adjacent complex, including a 250-seat theater and a second recording house. It was offered for sale in 2004 by Sally Grossman, the widow of Albert Grossman, who died in 1986.
- "Bearsville Studios, Speare Road, Bearsville, New York". jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com. Blogger. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- Bearsville Studio videos on YouTube
- Recollection of late-1970s Bearsville
- Bearsville Studios website—[dead link]
- Bearsville Sound Studio photos on Smugmug