Le Studio (later renamed Studio Morin Heights) was a residential recording studio just south of the town of Morin-Heights, Quebec, built in 1972 by André Perry, Nick Blagona and Yaël Brandeis. The studio, where artists recorded and stayed, was the venue for many notable Canadian and international artists, including Rush (it was nicknamed "Rush's Abbey Road"), The Police, and Cat Stevens. Renowned for its location as well as its state-of-the-art equipment, it was one of the earliest studios to install Solid State Logic mixing desk and RADAR digital-recording equipment. By 2008 the studio had gone out of business, and as of 2015 the property was up for sale. On 11 August 2017, the building was partially destroyed by "a suspicious" fire.
André Perry gained fame as a recording engineer working for John Lennon, and in 1974 was looking to expand his studio, built in a downtown Montreal church. He work with the Olive Company to develop one of the first recording consoles with motorized faders feeding two 24 track Studers synchronized to provide 48 tracks. He moved to Morin Heights, where he owned a lake, and built his studio there, with his wife Yaël Brandeis. The idea was to give recording artists a venue where they could record and live in a creative atmosphere, near the Laurentian Mountains: The Bee Gees, who recorded Children of the World (1976) at Le Studio, stayed for five months. Initially it had a guesthouse, a half an hour away, but it was burned down accidentally by Roy Thomas Baker and Ian Hunter, according to studio designer and engineer Nick Blagona. Later, a house across the lake was acquired and expanded. By the early 1980s it had a reputation as a premium North American recording venue, after Rush, David Bowie, and April Wine had recorded albums there.
In 1986 Le Studio issued stock on the Montreal Exchange looking to acquire funding for building a second studio, with audio and video capabilities, in the US state of Washington. 1.1 million shares valued at $3.50 were sold. Perry and Brandeis retained majority interests. They spent $500,000 on a Quantel Mirage digital video effects unit, hoping to install more equipment to allow the recording of sound effects and film music, as well as a Synclavier room.
In 1988 Perry and Brandeis sold the studio, and Perry retired in the early 1990s. The studio, by then called Studio Morin Heights, was acquired in 1993 by L'Equipe Spectra, an entertainment company that had a number of local artists on record. Rush and other bands continued to do their tracking there. The new owners also built a new studio room, called "Far Side", which offered a digital RADAR audio recorder and allowed local bands with modest budgets to benefit from the amenities. The 233-acre (0.94 km2) site was listed for sale in July 2007, with an asking price of C$2.45 million. The studio was shut down in March 2003 by Spectra. The property remained for sale until 2009, when the land was purchased with the intent to convert the area to a retreat and spa.
Other international artists to record at Le Studio include Nazareth, The Police, Sting, Cat Stevens, The Bee Gees, Keith Richards, Kim Mitchell and Bryan Adams. In January 1992 Celine Dion recorded "With This Tear", a song written by Prince and produced by Walter Afanasieff for her Celine Dion album. Rush recorded at Le Studio during "the peak and the end" of the Terry Brown era.
Some of the engineering staff included Nick Blagona, Ed Stasium, Leanne Unger, Frank Opolko, Paul Northfield, Glen Robinson, Robert DiGioia, Paul Milner, Simon Pressey, Jacques Deveau, George Pelekoudis, and Stacy Le Gallee.
The house and grounds are featured in the music videos of the recording sessions of the Rush songs "Tom Sawyer", "Limelight" and "Vital Signs". The studio is also seen in April Wine's music video for "I Like to Rock." Also, an episode of Popular Mechanics for Kids was taped there, with Elisha Cuthbert demonstrating recording and mixing techniques.
Since 2008, Le Studio was unoccupied and had fallen into disrepair.
On 15 June 2015, solo artist Claudio Delgift (creator of songs such as "Stereotypes," "In The Heart Of The Woods" and "Life Element") visited the abandoned LeStudio to record an acoustic cover of "Limelight" by Rush, paying homage to its glory days. Delgift's performance is probably the very last recording made in LeStudio.
On 11 August 2017, the studio's building was destroyed by a fire in a suspected case of arson. Geddy Lee of Rush told the CBC, "it was truly a part of the great Canadian landscape…and literally a home away from home for us. It will always have a special place in our hearts."
Albums and songs recorded at Le Studio
- Mobley 259.
- Myers 95-96.
- Verna, Paul (25 February 1995). "Studio Morin Heights Reaches Far: Quebec Facility Embraces Int'l, Local Acts". Billboard. pp. 91–91. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- Kilkenny, Carmel (2015-06-09). "Le Studio, Morin Heights for sale after years of neglect". Radio Canada International. Retrieved 2015-06-18.
- "Fire destroys legendary Le Studio where Bowie, The Police recorded". CBC News. 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
- Mobley 259-62.
- Peacock, Ted (July 2011). "Interview with Nick Blagona". Journal on the Art of Record Production. 5. ISSN 1754-9892.
- Sharp 69.
- LaPointe, Kirk (16 August 1986). "Le Studio Issues Stock on Montreal Exchange". Billboard. pp. 72–73. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- Mobley 262.
- Sale brochure Archived 8 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. The property was still for sale as of November, 2008
- Mobley 260.
- NeilPeart.net - News posting April 26, 2006
- FilmRise (9 February 2014). "Popular Mechanics for Kids Season 1 Ep 22 "Music Production"". YouTube. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- Kovac, Adam (2015-08-14). "Le Studio: Legendary Morin Heights recording spot in ruins". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2015-08-15.
- Banerjee, Sidhartha (11 August 2017). "Morin Heights' legendary Le Studio the site of "suspicious" fire". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
- "Remembering Le Studio - Rush React After Fire Destroys Studio". News.cygnus-x1.net. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- "Canada! Quebec Scene Reflects Rich Diversity". Billboard. 2 October 1976. pp. C8–9, 12, 20. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- Popoff 79-80.
- Popoff 94.
- Popoff 110-11.
- Trynka 432.
- Mobley, Max (2014). Rush FAQ: All That's Left to Know About Rock's Greatest Power Trio. Backbeat. ISBN 9781617136047.
- Myers, Paul (2007). Barenaked Ladies: Public Stunts, Private Stories. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416587361.
- Popoff, Martin (2004). Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home and Away. ECW. ISBN 9781550226782.
- Sharp, Keith (2014). Music Express: The Rise, Fall & Resurrection of Canada's Music Magazine. Dundurn. ISBN 9781459721951.
- Trynka, Paul (2011). David Bowie: Starman. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316134248.