The heart of rock and roll may soon start beating again. Record factory in Sausalito. The historic recording studio opened in 1972 and, before it closed in 2008, produced some of the best-selling albums of all time, including Santana’s. Supernatural and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors.
From the outside, the redwood-clad building at 2200 Bridgeway in Marinship looks unassuming. Most people pass by without realizing that Metallica, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead and many other legendary musicians have recorded under their roof.
Gold and platinum records still hang on its walls. Also prominently displayed are invitations, screen-printed on pieces of redwood, to the Record Plant Halloween Masquerade Ball studio opening in 1972. These unique invitations inspired John Lennon and Yoko Ono to attend the party disguised as trees.
The record-breaking factory sat vacant for years; However, Grammy Award-winning producer Ken Caillat never stopped to think about the studios where he produced. Rumors, which won Album of the Year at the 1977 Grammy Awards. Caillat worked with Frank Pollifrone, a film financier, for several years to purchase the recording studio.
âFrank and I have been sequestered to buy this building since 2016,â Caillat said. âMy idea was to prevent this building from burning down or being sold and turned into a brewery or something like that. So many great records have been made there. It is a magical place.
For Caillat and Pollifrone, the third time is the charm. After two failed agreements, in 2017 and 2018, the couple successfully closed the building in March 2020. Unfortunately, within days, Governor Gavin Newsom issued the stay-at-home order due to the pandemic of Covid-19.
âOn March 3, 2020, we were toasting Studio A,â Pollifrone said. âThen we had to close. The biggest disappointment of all time. We’re finally doing it, and it’s happening. But we have a great group of investors, a great team who believe in this project and help us monetize it.
The project has about 15 investors, according to investor Jim Rees, a Los Gatos real estate businessman. While they all share the common goal of restoring the studios, they also plan to make a profit.
âIt definitely starts with the passion and desire to preserve a historic monument,â Rees said. âThe building is an icon. It looks a bit run down on the outside, but it’s a real time capsule on the inside. We will reopen it, restore it and reinvent it.
The first order of business was to change the name of the recording studio, which has now been dubbed Record Factory. The name may sound familiar, as it was once the nickname for an old chain of record stores based in the Bay Area. Then, renovate the psychedelic studios and bring them back to their former glory.
âIt’s such an iconic building and location,â Caillat said. âI believe a lot more famous records are going to be made there. Many more of Michael Jackson will be discovered. Just put it back as before. It will be a museum, an ode to great technology and to all the artists who were there before. I also want this to be a beacon for creatives in Northern California. “
In addition to preserving the 24-track analog equipment that still resides in the Record Factory, the new owners want to present state-of-the-art equipment. When Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, another renowned recording studio, closed in 2018, the Record Factory purchased its recording equipment.
Once the new Record Factory opens, it will offer a variety of offerings for musical artists, the local community and fans. Collaborators define it as a full-service recording studio, music education program for children, and museum experience.
Caillat, as he does with his company ArtistMax, will work with industry professionals, such as voice coaches and choreographers, to teach emerging musical artists how to be comfortable and entertaining on stage. It takes time to produce great talent and music, according to Caillat.
“I had almost a year to record Rumors, Caillat said. âWith today’s budgets, people have maybe two weeks to record. No one is smart enough to be able to make a good record so quickly. We want to help young musicians, give them more time in the studio, so that they can take their time and make the right record.
Rees dates back to the 1970s, when Record Plant teamed up with a San Francisco rock radio station to create “Live at the Record Plant”. The show was recorded at the Record Plant in front of a live studio audience and broadcast on KSAN.
âIn the 1970s, a radio station had a limited geography,â Rees said. âWith the Internet, we can provide a live experience anywhere in the world. We hope to share the Record Factory through live streaming and recording, podcasts and radio shows. “
Educational programs for children in the community are an important part of Record Factory for Pollifrone, who says they want to bring children from Marin City to teach them music. Rees hosts experiential events for kids, ranging from music lessons to hands-on music production and recording.
Record Factory investors hope tours of the hip studios will attract tourists and money. Fans can stand in groovy decorated rooms where the magic has been done. Sports, by Huey Lewis and the News; Songs in the Key of Life, by Stevie Wonder; For you, Prince’s first album; and Who zooms who, by Aretha Franklin, were all recorded there.
Johnny Colla, a marinite, was the saxophonist for several famous groups, including Sly and the Family Stone and Huey Lewis and the News. He has worked at Record Plant more times than he can remember over the years.
One of Colla’s favorite memories is when Huey Lewis & the News worked on “The Heart of Rock and Roll” by Sports. They wanted a real car horn in the song and honked three different horns to determine which sounded the best.
âMy Camaro 68, one that I forgot and our soundman’s Mercury ’72 Mercury station wagon,â said Colla. âWe opted for the Mercury. There’s a bunch of mics in the aisle outside the factory. Three hours for installation. Five to 10 minutes maximum to âhonk, honkâ for âThe Heart of Rock and Rollâ.
Stories abound from the heyday of the Record Plant. The new owners of Record Factory hope to create lasting memories and music.
âThe Record Plant is sacred ground,â said Colla. âA sacred place in Sausalito.â