Tonight's fire at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Orange Avenue wasn't just in another storefront. It's the former location of Radio Recorders, a legendary sound studio. Carol Kaye, the session guitarist I wrote about yesterday, posted tonight on Facebook: "Sure sorry to see this historical place on-fire. It has a different name...but it's the old Radio Recorders, place where I started my recording career in 1957 with Sam Cooke, and place where Nat King Cole, BB's and other giant recordings were made...it was the cat's meow in the 1950s and beyond."
Elvis Presley also recorded there in '57. According to a history on the web by Scotty Moore, the studio was built in 1929 by the Victor Talking Machine Company.
Variety Magazine advertised at the time that at a cost of $250,000 the complex went from Orange Drive to Sycamore Avenue between Santa Monica Blvd. and Romaine St. Though now officially RCA Victor, the company was still being referred to simply as "Victor" and record labels did not carry "RCA Victor" until much later, sometime in the late 1930s or early '40s. One of the first stars on its label to record there was Jimmie Rodgers in July of 1930 accompanied by Louis Armstrong on trumpet....
Radio Recorders itself was founded around 1933 and the 1937 Broadcasting Yearbook lists it as being located at 932 N. Western Ave. By 1949 they had taken over the facilities at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. and were on the road to becoming one of the largest independent recording studios in Hollywood. Mostly all of the major labels used Radio Recorders' studios because most of them did not have facilities on the West Coast initially. Capitol Records did all their early recordings there and then stole away some of their engineering staff when they built their own studios. In addition to popular music the facilities there were also extensively used to record jingles, commercials and shows for broadcast radio.
From another site:
Aside from being musical legends, what do Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke, Pat Boone, Bing Crosby and Igor Stravinsky have in common? To find the answer you must travel to the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Orange Drive in Hollywood and visit the studio in which these epochal figures recorded some of their most memorable work.
To study history is one thing. To be part of it, is quite another. That's what Paul Schwartz discovered when he opened Studio 56 on the site originally occupied by Radio Recorders, one of the oldest recording facilities in Los Angeles. Founded in 1933, Radio Recorders had already achieved prominence in the field of broadcast radio, when it also became the home of some of popular music's greatest hits. "Jailhouse Rock", "All Shook Up", "Loving You" and "Teddy Bear" are just a few of the block-busters that Elvis recorded at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd., now the headquarters of Studio 56. The building itself is a virtual time capsule. "You Send Me", " Mac The Knife", " Loveletters In The Sand", "Peter Gunn" and "Purple People Eater" are some of the memories captured within its walls.
The Los Angeles Fire Department says the fire its crews responded to was knocked down after 7 p.m. in 18 minutes. The complex of buildings was mostly saved, according to ABC 7. For what it's worth, the story's mention of the Beatles recording there is raising eyebrows among some of the music industry veterans on Facebook.
Also on Facebook, tenant Kathy Stevens posts: "Fire @ the studio. So glad everyone is safe. We were sitting here going 'it's really hot in here' -- so lucky!!!"
* Two significant Tuesdayupdates: The fire appears to have been in an annex studio at 1041 Orange Drive, across the alley from the original Radio Recorders studio at 7000 Santa Monica Boulevard. And even though the LA Times and others have picked up ABC 7's claim last night that the Beatles recorded at Radio Recorders, there's apparently no evidence for it in Beatles literature or lore. Individual members of the band may have recorded in the facility — since it seems just about everybody did.