Sound City Studios

Origin: Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California


Web Site:  Official website

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Sound City Studios was a recording studio incorporated in 1969, located in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, USA. The facility had previously been a production factory of the British company, Vox.

Sound City contributed its signature analog sound to more than a hundred certified gold and platinum albums. The studio was privately held from 1970, until it closed its commercial studio services in May 2011. It is now reserved for the exclusive use of its tenants, Fairfax Recordings. Dave Grohl, former Nirvana drummer and current lead singer of the Foo Fighters, purchased the custom Neve 8078 Console from Studio A, installing it in his private recording studio. In 2013, a documentary on the studio was made by Grohl simply titled Sound City.

The studio was run by Joe Gottfried and Tom Skeeter, two guys who wanted to start a record company and got into artist management. After a rough start, Skeeter ponied up $75,175 to buy a state-of-the-art recording console from Rupert Neve, a British electronics genius who built technologically advanced audio gear”: “one of four in the world”, “a 28-input, 16-bus, 24-monitor 8028 with 1085 EQs and no automation”.

During 1969, Sound City hosted the David Briggs productions Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by Spirit and After the Gold Rush by Neil Young. On a more infamous note, cult leader Charles Manson made some recordings in Studio B, just a few months before the Manson family crime spree in the Summer of 1969.

In the 1970s, Neil Young, Dr. John, Spirit, Crazy Horse, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, along with other bands recorded music at the studio. Shelter Records founders Leon Russell and Denny Cordell found an L.A. home at Sound City as well, recording Leon Russell, Delaney & Bonnie, and Joe Cocker. Thanks to the Shelter founders, Sound City hosted a young band from Florida named Mudcrutch in 1974, providing an introduction to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers that resulted in a 30+ year relationship.

After 1975

In 1976, Fleetwood Mac recorded one track at the studio, “Never Going Back Again,” from what would become one of the highest selling and most critically acclaimed albums of all time, Rumours. During the 1980s and 1990s, the studio was used to produce works from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Rick Springfield, Ronnie James Dio, Foreigner, The Black Crowes, and Nirvana. Record producer Rick Rubin chose Sound City Recording Studios to record artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Johnny Cash (Unchained, 1996). He most recently recorded Metallica’s Death Magnetic, which entered the Billboard Top 200 chart at number 1, at the studio.

Death of owner

Tom Skeeter died on 12 September 2014, at the age of 82.


Sound City Studios prided themselves on having a very particular sound when it came to recording drums. “Studio drummer and Toto member, Jeff Porcaro, insisted that you only had to set up the drums in order to get a good drum sound.” “Guitars sound pretty much the same everywhere, says famed producer Rick Rubin, but drums change from room to room, and the sound at Sound City was among the best.” Producer Greg Fidelman recorded the sound of a bass drum from each of the big recording studios in the Los Angeles area, subsequently playing the sample for Metallica without divulging from which studio the sound had originated. Based upon this sample, the band chose Sound City Studios to record Death Magnetic. In addition, when asked by Nine Inch Nails to be a guest drummer on some songs, Dave Grohl agreed only if the songs were to be recorded at Sound City Studios.

According to an article called L.A. Grapevine, the interior of the main studio has never been painted over, nor were its linoleum tiles changed, due to fear that the change would directly affect the “legendary sound quality” of the room.