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Sound City Studios’ Place in Rock Music History

By Stacey Ramirez
Web Content Contributor

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work at a recording studio? Picture it: you’re young and you don’t really know what you’re doing, but you have nothing to lose and you spend everyday working alongside some of the greatest bands and artists alive.

Well, that’s the story the Sound City Recording Studio tells.

The Sound City documentary, directed by Dave Grohl, who is most notably known for being the drummer for 90s grunge band Nirvana, shares the story of the iconic Sound City recording studio all the way from its early beginnings, since it first opened its doors in 1969 in Los Angeles, California. 

I personally didn’t know about this studio or its impact before watching this documentary. I first learned about it while reading about the making of Nirvana’s album Nevermind. But it’s fair to say any fan of rock or any music genre can thank this studio for producing some of the greatest albums ever made. 

The documentary features interviews from musicians today as they look back at their time recording at the studio. Sound City is where Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks recorded and produced their first album, but also where they met English musician Mick Fleetwood and his band that would eventually become the world-famous group we know today as Fleetwood Mac.

And if that doesn’t impress you, some of these familiar faces include Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney and groups like Rage Against the Machine. The documentary also features clips from sessions they had with artists Johnny Cash and Kurt Cobain before.

The documentary isn’t just about highlighting the big-name artists and bands that spent time at the studio. More importantly, it captures the life of the people who worked at Sound City and the family they cultivated while working there.

We learn about the man who started it all, Tom Skeeter, who opened this studio, other stories, like how Rick Springfield met his wife Barbara Porter when she was interning at the studio.

But if after all this you imagine the studio was some glamorous oasis for music, you would be wrong. Many of the artists and bands that came into Sound City described it as cheaply decorated and dirty, but that the quality wasn’t in the look but in the experience and the music. 

People didn’t come for fancy treatment; they kept coming for the friendly staff, many of whom became friends, and for the Neve 8028 soundboard. All who entered were credited for making their music unforgettable. 

And after the studio closed down, Dave Grohl bought the board, moved it to his own studio and asked many of the artists that worked with the board before it to return to record music once again.

This documentary was first released in 2013 but is now available to watch for free on watch on YouTube. 

Featured image by Stacey Ramirez.

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