News & Politics

Jimi Hendrix Finishes His Electric Lady Studio on 8th Street

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Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
June 25, 1970, Vol. XV, No. 26

Scenes
By Howard Smith

WHEN THE CONSTRUCTION of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studio was first announced, costs were cheerfully estimated at $350,000 to convert the old square dance premises of the Village Barn into a star-spangled recording experience. Now anyone passing the small, mysterious brick swelling at 52 West 8th Street would hardly guess that it conceals a cool $1 million in architecture and equipment.

Apparently it was rocky going: three ceilings and elephantine walls had to be built to keep the sounds from reaching the upstairs movie house and at one point the workers unearthed Minetta Brook which flooded the foundation.

Nevertheless Hendrix’s Electric Lady is open, under the direction of “business head” Jim Marrion, with studios — one large already operating, and one “baby,” almost finished.

John Storyk, who designed Cerebrum, has done the Lady up in Alphaville class, with red plush carpets and walls, floating ceilings and multi-ramped floors, intricate color light dimmer-switches, closed circuit tvs, and convex control rooms. Eddie Kramer, one of the top recording engineers on the rock scene (Led Zeppelin, all of Hendrix’s records, and the Woodstock album), is in charge of everything technical. The acoustical and engineering equipment budget was virtually bottomless. Kramer stocked the place with glittering hardware ranging from a gigantic 40-mike-input 24-track console board to a Moog and an Arp.

A lot of groups have begun to book the studio and Hendrix is already tinkering with his new toy; at last week’s session with Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox, he mentioned he was writing a special song titled “Electric Lady” in honor of what he hopes is a foxy business venture. While watching Kramer man the spaceship complex of switches and dials, I thought wistfully back a few years, when any young kid with cheek could conceivably walk in off the street and produce an interesting cut. Now the same kid wouldn’t be allowed to touch the apparatus unless he had an intensive electro-scientific background or an apprenticeship with a master engineer.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

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