Unique Recording Studios

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Unique Recording Studios
Recording Studio
DefunctNew York City, New York, U.S. (2004)
New York City, New York
Key people
Bobby Nathan, Joanne Nathan (founders)

Unique Recording Studios was a technologically innovative five room recording studio operating in New York City from 1978 until 2004. The business got off the ground as a rehearsal studio with a Tascam 8 track recorder in 1978, but soon expanded to 16, and then 24 tracks with the first Otari MTR-90.[1] Some of the biggest names in the music world recorded at Unique. The still operating Unique Recording Studio website lists the following among their former clients: Madonna. Mariah Carey, Tina Turner, Anita Baker, Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker, Billy Ocean, Maniquin, Michael Bolton, Michael McDonald, James Ingram, Donna Summer, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Danny Gatton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chaka Khan, David Sanborn, Billy Idol, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Aztec Camera, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Pet Shop Boys, Cheap Trick, James Brown, George Clinton, Bee Gees, Arthur Baker, Stevie Nicks, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Al B. Sure! New Edition, New Kids on the Block, Jimmy Cliff, Queen Latifah, Run–D.M.C., The Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Nas, Kanye West and Alicia Keys.


The studio complex was located just off of Times Square in the top three floors of the Cecil B. DeMille Building,[2] adjacent to music-store row. The business was owned and operated by husband and wife team Joanne and Bobby Nathan. Many Grammy-winning albums were recorded at Unique over the years.

MIDI revolution[edit]

Unique was famous for having the latest keyboards, drum machines, and samplers, and was on the cutting edge of the MIDI revolution during hip-hop's infancy. The studio was practically a laboratory for the latest technology, with many musical instrument manufacturers sending their first units of the latest gear to Unique.

Unique Recording Studios is credited for opening the first Midi recording room in 1983 called "Midi City" [3] and was later named Studio C.

Hip hop history[edit]

Rap and hip hop was born at Unique Recording Studios with Tom Silverman's Tommy Boy Records featuring Arthur Baker and John Robie - Planet Patrol, Soul Sonic Force, Freeze and Afrika Bambaataa. Run DMC, LL Cool J, Kurtis Blow, Kool Moe D, Public Enemy, The Fat Boys, ODB, Wu-Tang Klan, Eazy-E, Melle Mel, Marley Marl, Grand Master Flash, Sugar Hill Gang and later Queen Latifah, Heavy D, Nas, 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G - Biggie Smalls Puff Daddy, Naughty By Nature, Mobb Deep, KRS-One, MOP, DMX, Jay-Z, Raekwon, Moby, Pink and Kanye West


Engineers who started their careers at Unique Recording Studios include:

  • Chris Lord-Alge (Joe Cocker, Cheap Trick, Ric Ocasek, Stevie Nicks, Carly Simon, Tina Turner, Chaka Kahn, Nona Hendrix, James Brown)
  • Tom Lord-Alge (Steve Winwood, Malcom McLaren, David, Johansen, OMD, TKA, Jeff Beck, Little Steven, Wendy & Lisa, John Waite, Earth, Wind & Fire, Supertramp, The System)
  • Tony Drootin
  • Eric Lynch
  • Jeff Lord-Alge (Richard Barone)
  • Bob Rosa (Prince, Mariah Carey, James Ingram, Paula Abdul, Toni, Braxton, Taylor Dayne, C+C Music factory, Celine Dion, Debbie Gibson, Michael McDonald, Lisa Lisa, George Benson, Stephanie Mills, Freddie Jackson, Janet Jackson, Starpoint, Michael Bolton, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Jay-Z, Jon Secada, Gloria Estefan)
  • Michael Finlayson (Unique's first engineer, started his career as Moogy Klingman's personal engineer. Unique sessions included: Johnny Copeland, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Danny Gatton, Stewart Copeland, Ian McDonald, Bill Bruford, Aerosmith, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Bobby Watson, Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman, Alex Bugnon, Charles Fambrough, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lisa-Lisa & Cult Jam w/ Full Force, Jocelyn Brown, Freddie Jackson, Oran "Juice" Jones, Divine)
  • Peter Robbins (Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Bob James/David Sanborn, David Johansen, Skyy, Billy Ocean, Afrika Bambaataa, Divine, Melba Moore, Ofra Haza)
  • Frank Heller (Edgar Winter, New Edition - "Candy Girl", Force MD's, Jonzun Crew, Jimmy Cliff, New Kids on the Block, Afrika Bambaataa + James Brown - "Unity", Apollonia, Bell Biv Devoe, LL Cool J
  • Steve Peck (B52's, Pointer Sisters, George Michael, Jennifer Rush. New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Sweet Sensation, Will Downing, Depeche Mode, Debbie Harry)
  • David Hecht
  • Ben Garrison
  • Hanan Rubinstein
  • Jeff Neiblum (Michael Bolton, Jimmy Cliff, LaToya Jackson, Malcolm McLaren, Starpoint, Boogie Boys, Sly Fox, O.M.D., Keith Sweat, Keith Diamond, Ted Currier)
  • Roey Shamir (Al B Sure!, TKA, Devo, Run DMC, Heavy D, Melba Moore, Full Force, Information Society, Ashford + Simpson),
  • Josh Chervokas (Madonna, Kool Moe, Dee, Mobb Deep,2 Pac, Just-Ice, Nas)
  • Kennan Keating (Nine Inch Nails, Don Johnson, Sarah Dash, Al Green, Color Me Badd, Larry Coryell)
  • George Karras (Madonna, Najee, Heavy D, Kool Moe Dee, Keith Sweat, Donna Summer, Joe Public, Me'Shell
  • Maxim Bogdanov (Micheal Jackson, Big Daddy Kane, Organized Confusion, Todd Terry)
  • Joelle G, aka Cat (Def Con Four, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Soundtrack, Backstreet Boys, Barbra Streisand Don Johnson, Maid to order, Atomic Dog remix, Miss Unique, Tony! Toni! Tone!)
  • James Wyman (Paul Shaffer, 7A3, Whodini, Tabou Combo, Lissette Melendez)
  • D'Anthony Johnson (DMX, MOP, Raekwon, Nice + Smooth, Sybil, Miles Davis "Doo Bop")
  • Angela Piva (Jude Cole, Run DMC, Color Me Badd, Gerado, Heavy D, Queen Latifah, Zhane', Groove Theory, first female engineer to have engineered a #1 record - Naughty By Nature's "OPP" )
  • Matt Hathaway (KRS-One, Christina Aguilera, Destiny's Child, Alicia Keys, Pink, Wu Tang Clan, Mary J. Blige)
  • Michael "Wolf" Reaves (Mary J. Blige, Jessica Simpson, Brandy, Wu-Tang Clan, Marilyn Manson, Big Daddy Kane, Boyz II Men)
  • John Holmes (OutKast, Usher, Indigo Girls, Elton John)


The explosion of high quality home and project studio recording systems such as Digidesign's Pro Tools, along with declining album sales and skyrocketing Manhattan commercial leases helped contribute to the demise of a number of major New York studios, including Unique Recording Studios.


  1. ^ "Unique Recording Studio". Mixonline.com. 2000-08-01. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  2. ^ "Unique Recording Studios New York City Home Page". Uniquerecording.com. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  3. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 2004-06-12. Retrieved 2014-06-30.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′33″N 73°59′03″W / 40.7592°N 73.9843°W / 40.7592; -73.9843