Château d'Hérouville

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Château d'Hérouville

The Château d'Hérouville is a French château of the 18th century (1740) located in the village of Hérouville, in the Val d'Oise département of France, near Paris. The château was built in 1740 by Gaudot, an architect of the school of Rome, from the remains of an earlier 16th century château.[1] In the 19th century, it was used as courier relay station (between Versailles and Beauvais) and stabled a hundred horses.[2][3] The château was painted by Vincent van Gogh, who is buried nearby.[4]

Architecture[edit]

The chateau comprises two wings, plus a number of outbuildings.[5] It has 30 rooms, a swimming pool and a tennis court and is set in 17,000 hectares of parkland.[4] An octagonal stone drinking trough in the courtyard is a protected historical monument.[5]

History of Recording Studio[edit]

The composer Michel Magne purchased the chateau in 1962. He was best known for having been nominated in 1962 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment for Gigot.[6] He converted the building into a residential recording studio after a fire devastated its left wing in 1969. The musician, director and sound engineer Laurent Thibault took over management of the studio in June 1974.[7]

The Grateful Dead were there on 21 June 1971. Jerry Garcia tells the story:[8]

We went over there to do a big festival, a free festival they were gonna have, but the festival was rained out. It flooded. We stayed at this little chateau which is owned by a film score composer who has a 16-track recording studio built into the chateau, and this is a chateau that Chopin once lived in; really old, just delightful, out in the country near the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, which is where Vincent van Gogh is buried.

We were there with nothing to do: France, a 16-track recording studio upstairs, all our gear, ready to play, and nothing to do. So, we decided to play at the chateau itself, out in the back, in the grass, with a swimming pool, just play into the hills. We didn't even play to hippies, we played to a handful of townspeople in Auvers. We played and the people came — the chief of police, the fire department, just everybody. It was an event and everybody just had a hell of a time — got drunk, fell in the pool. It was great.

A recording of the Grateful Dead's performance is available online.[9]

Many other artists recorded there, many of whom were British, beginning with Elton John, who called it the "honky château", and used the nickname as the title of the album he recorded there, Honky Château and Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player, in 1972. He also recorded Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in 1973.

Chris Bell, of the Memphis-based cult band Big Star, recorded solo tracks with Apple engineer Claude Harper at the studio in September and October 1974. The songs, recorded along with drummer Richard Rosebrough, would be released on his now acclaimed I Am the Cosmos LP. The posthumously released record saw its first release in 1992, nearly 13 years after Bell's December 1978 death. [1]

Sweet recorded part of their final album, Level Headed, there as a four-piece group as Brian Connolly later left. The single "Love Is Like Oxygen" was taken from this recording, a top ten hit around the world and nominated for an Ivor Novello Award.

During David Bowie's time spent at the château whilst recording Low with Tony Visconti and Brian Eno the three claimed to have felt super-natural, or 'haunting' experiences.[10] Visconti stated:

There was certainly some strange energy in that Château. On the first day David took one look at the master bedroom and said, 'I’m not sleeping in there!' He took the room next door. The master bedroom had a very dark corner, right next to the window, ironically, that seem to just suck light into it. It was colder in that corner too.

Eno also claimed to have been awoken early every morning with someone shaking his shoulder. When he opened his eyes no one was there.

1985 Closure[edit]

Legal and financial problems surrounded Magne's sale of the château in 1984. The studio closed on 25 July 1985,[7] one year after Magne's suicide, Thibault and his team having been expelled by the liquidator of Michel Magne's estate. The château and its gardens were abandoned to squatters and overgrowth. In 2013, the château was put up for sale with an asking price of €1.29m, and needing an estimated €300,000 of renovations.

Reopening of Recording Studio[edit]

In 2015 a group of audio engineers rebuilt the recording studios and started the Sup HD audio audio recording master classes.[11][12][13]

According to the BBC, the studio will re-open in 2016. [2]

Partial list of albums recorded at Château d'Hérouville[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ministry of Culture: Château dit d'Hérouville (French)
  2. ^ "Honky Château - Hérouville 75". Retrieved 29 June 2008. 
  3. ^ "HEROUVILLE - 95300 Val d'Oise". Retrieved 29 June 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Kim Willsher, "For sale: 'honky château' where Elton and Bowie recorded classic hits", The Observer, 4 August 2013
  5. ^ a b Schofield, Hugh (27 December 2015). "The return of the Honky Chateau - BBC News". BBC Online. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  6. ^ "allmovie (((Michel Magne > Awards )))". Retrieved 29 June 2008. 
  7. ^ a b "Michel MAGNE". Retrieved 29 June 2008. 
  8. ^ Jackson, Blair. "Garcia: An American Life". Blair Jackson. p. 217. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  9. ^ Grateful Dead. "Grateful Dead at Château d'Hérouville - June 21, 1971". archive.org. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  10. ^ "The 'Honky Château' where Bowie, Bolan, Elton, and Iggy recorded is Up for Sale". dangerousminds.net. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Les mythiques studios d'Hérouville vont enfin revivre". Le Parisien, édition du Val-d'Oise. 26 April 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  12. ^ "Le centre de formation du son s'installe au château d'Hérouville". Le Parisien, édition du Val-d'Oise. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Boucher, Alexandre (5 July 2015). "Le parc du château d'Hérouville retrouve son éclat d'antan". Le Parisien, édition du Val-d'Oise. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°6′6″N 2°7′59″E / 49.10167°N 2.13306°E / 49.10167; 2.13306