Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 12:17 am:

There have been many studios in Chicago for many years. Here are some of the more noted ones.

UNIVERSAL RECORDING - The top studio in town in it's 40 plus years of existence. Founded by Bill Putnam and Bernie Clapper in 1946, the firm had several locations including north suburban Evanston, the penthouse of the Civic Opera House on North Wacker Drive and the most popular location on the corner of Walton and Rush Streets. Mercury Records, headquartered in Chicago for many years, was a frequent client of Universal. Quincy Jones, the Platters, Dick Contino, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, the Diamonds, James Brown and Brook Benton all stopped through. Many popular Chicago-based artists cut hits there such as the Flamingos, the Moonglows, Gene Chandler, Major Lance, Jerry Butler, Betty Everett, the Esquires, Dee Clark, Ramsey Lewis, the Dells, the Impressions, the Five Stairsteps, Jimmy Reed, the El Dorados, Bo Diddley, Walter Jackson, Billy Butler & the Chanters, the Vibrations and many others. The studio moved downtown to an office building at 32 W. Randolph in the early '90s and closed it's doors shortly after. A rather uneventful ending for one of the more famous studios in the world.

RCA - Opened in the 1930s, the studio was located on the same block as Navy Pier. Vaughn Monroe recorded "Ghost Riders In The Sky" at RCA as well as a number of RCA's pop, country and jazz artists. The Monkees did a portion of their "Pieces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. LP there, the Guess Who was there for "American Woman" as were the Nite-Liters for the original version of "K-Jee". Curtis Mayfield recorded the "Superfly" soundtrack at RCA, except for "Pusherman" which was done at Bell Sound in NYC. RCA closed it's Chicago location sometime in the late seventies.

P.S. RECORDING STUDIOS - Opened by former Basie trumpeter Paul Serrano in 1966 on 18th & Michigan (he later moved it to 323 E. 23rd St.), Paul could boast of artists such as Jerry Butler, the Emotions, Natalie Cole, Ramsey Lewis, Peabo Bryson, the Independents, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, Mary Wells and a host of blues, soul & gospel artists. P.S. closed it's doors in the early nineties. Paul is still active in the industry today.

TER-MAR - Located in the Chess Records building, Ter Mar was in business since the fifties. Among the artists who recorded there: Ramsey Lewis, the Dells, the Buckinghams, the New Colony Six, the American Breed, Barbara Lewis, Billy Stewart, Etta James, Fontella Bass, Jackie Ross, Little Milton, the Radiants, Mitty Collier, Rotary Connection and later, former group member Minnie Riperton cut her debut album there. Closed sometime in the late seventies.

CHESS - The building at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. was a hotbed of activity between the fifties and the seventies. Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon (with and without his Big Three), the Moonglows, the Flamingos, Little Walter, Little Milton, Sonny Boy Williamson to name a few. The Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds cut there as did the Coasters ("Idol With The Golden Head"). Recording stopped in the late seventies and the building was later made a national landmark. Today, it's a museum ala Motown.

CHICAGO RECORDING CO. (CRC) - R. Kelly produced Michael Jackson's "You Are No Alone" at the Near North side studio. Opened in the seventies, Jerry Butler, Smokey Robinson, Dee Dee Sharp and John Prine have stopped in through the years. The only studio of it's era still in operation.

CURTOM - Curtis Mayfield opened his Northwest side spot in the early seventies and many great artists graced it's way. Curtis himself, the Impressions, former Impression Leroy Hutson, Linda Clifford, the Five Stairsteps, the Jones Girls, Gene Chandler, Natalie Cole, Bunny Sigler and Barbara Mason can say they were there.

If anyone has anything to add, please feel free. It's possible I may have missed something.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 07:29 am:

Paragon Studon on Huron was home to the Ohio Players hits like skin tight, etc.
Loleatta Holloway cut Worn Out Broken Heart there, and I was on the session.
It was a fine funky room indeed.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 07:32 am:

Also Ernie Leaners Onederful, Brunswick studios on Michigan and Eight Track where Have you seen her was recorded.

By the way I also worked at Curtom with Curtis, Linda Clifford and Ava Cherry.

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 08:50 am:

Oops, I forgot to mention Paragon on State & Huron. The Ohio Players cut several albums there ("Skin Tight", "Fire", "Honey", "Contradiction") as did Styx. An old school classic, "Riding High" by Faze-O was also tracked at Paragon. Paragon closed in the eighties. One-Derful, which was a little further south on Michigan Ave. (I don't remember the exact address) recorded Alvin Cash & The Five Dutones. Brunswick at 1449 S. Michigan was the former home of Vee-Jay. Carl Davis was named head of Chicago's Brunswick office by Nat Tarnopol in 1966, shortly after Vee-Jay went bankrupt. There was a studio on the second floor, but it didn't see much activity until the early seventies. Eight Track at 664 N. Michigan Ave. was actually named Sound Market Studio. Jackie Wilson's "You Got Me Walking" was cut at Eight Track. Then there was Ed Cody's Stereo-Sonic on Michigan & Grand where the Brighter Side Of Darkness cut "Love Jones". Then there was Sky Hero, around the corner from P.S. It didn't stay around long, but a Chicago cult classic, "The Groovy Ghost Show" by Casper was cut there. There were also a lot of smaller studios around town, though some of them were mainly demo studios. R. Kelly also has used Battery on the West Side & Chicago Trax on the North Side. Like I said before, feel free to add anything you deem relevant.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Fury13 ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 11:12 am:

In the '50s and early '60s, did Vee-Jay have its own recording studio at 1449 S. Michigan or did the label use Universal or another studio? And is the building at 1449 S. Michigan still there?

Also, where was Universal located in the early to mid-'50s?

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 11:20 am:

dvd mike:
Excellent thread...but how about the following:

COLUMBIA RECORDS STUDIOS - Located at McClurg Court, this CBS-owned location is where Carl Davis (prior to his work with Brunswick)produced many recordings when he was the A&R chief for CBS' Okeh label. Major Lance's "Monkey Time" , "Nevertheless (I Love You)" by Billy Butler & many Walter Jackson productions were cut the McClurg location. Davis continued to record at the Columbia/McClurg studios when he went on to Brunswick in 1966 ("Whispers" & "Higher And Higher" by Jackie Wilson were cut there).

Also the TER-MAR studios were named after the sons of Phil & Leonard Chess (TERry - MARshall).

Best regards,
Kevin Goins - KevGo

PS - I would like to communicate with you one-on-one regarding some projects I'm working on. Could you send me your email so I could respond. My email address is Thanks!

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 03:40 pm:

I did forget to mention Columbia Recording Studios, although I was aware. I did not know that Carl produced his Okeh acts there. That is news to me. Makes sense, though. Okeh was a CBS-distributed label.

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 06:03 pm:

In the 1960s CBS Records had an iron-clad policy that required all recording acts & producers to use their recording studios for in-house recordings. This was done to maintain engineering and sound consistancy throughout all CBS recordings.
This of course became a bone of contention for certain acts & producers, since CBS didn't always have the up-to-the-minute state-of-the-art equipment (the company supposedly didn't even have an eight-track machine until the late 1960s - at that time Atlantic Records had theirs for ten years!). The Byrds had to re-record "Eight Miles High" because the original was cut at RCA Studios in Los Angeles & Columbia refused to release that version (to this day Roger McGuinn & David Crosby say that the RCA cut is the superior version). To bring the point close to home James William Guercio - the producer of Chicago - disliked the studios because of the lack of advancement he went ahead & built Caribou Studios (which went on to record several artists including Earth Wind & Fire).
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By soulboy ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 06:14 pm:

Allthough Columbia didn't release the 'eight miles high' original.It was included in the 1996
CD re-issue of 'fifth dimension' as one of the Bonus tracks. And yes it's even better than the released version.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 07:00 pm:

From everything I've been able to find out the main reason Columbia and RCA required their artists to record in their own studios was the contracts each company had with the engineers' unions that applied to broadcast facilities and recording studios. The company studios were generally state of the art although not bleeding edge like Motown.

A major reason many artists in the late '60s wanted no part of company studios was the fact that they were not as free to indulge in drugs in a label-owned studio as they were in an independent that was desperate to host as many high profile projects as possible.

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 07:44 pm:

Fury, Vee-Jay had a studio on the second floor, but I don't know if they released anything that was cut there. Vee-Jay did the bulk of their recording at Universal. In the early-to-mid-'50s, the studio was located at 46 E. Walton St. on Rush St. The building at 1449 S. Michigan, the former home of Vee-Jay and later Brunswick is still standing, although it's abandoned. It should a national landmark, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the city to file the papers.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Fury13 ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 07:47 pm:

Wow, dvdmike, you'd think someone would capitalize on the Vee-Jay building's history and turn it into a blues club or something...

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 09:13 pm:

I would have to concur with Bob Olhsson.

At United Sound and prior to that at Golden World, I did many Columbia and RCA sessions, always with an RCA or Columbia engineer sitting in the background collecting his pay check.

I remember one session for Columbia that Danny did where Jimmy and I showed him the studios, film mix dubbers ect., while Danny did the session. Columbia had good rooms, but they guys admitted that that the Detroit studios were technically superior.

There was a producer named Shelly ??? I forget his last name, that was from RCA that we worked with alot at United. As I remember, Jack Ashford was connected with those sessions.

Artie Fields place was on the cutting edge at the time as far as jingle production goes.

I think the midwest was the place to be in the 60's and 70's.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 09:21 pm:

Back in the very early seventies, we did a lot of CBS sessions. At first they would send one of their engineers but the end result sounded as though the drums were across the street somewhere
and just plain crappy and New York-ish.
So we made a deal with the company whereby the guy could come down and get his union wages and all he would have to do was show up, maybe read the paper, maybe go out for a sandwich, and just plain shut up and not say one word about the recording. He could, however mention Man o' war in the fifth or something like that while he ate his pepper and egg sandwich on a kaiser roll and some stale black coffee. All he needed was a hard hat and a lunch pail and old baggy jeans with the crack ofhis as exposed!!!
We did however venture over to the CBS studios in NYC where we did Love in them there hills by the Vibrations and The Salsoul Hustle.
Playbacks were still crappy.

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 09:21 pm:

Ed Wolfrum - Was that Shelly Hames??

Top of pageBottom of page   By mhc ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 11:04 pm:

I like the Columbia Studios version of "Eight Miles High" a lot better than the RCA Studios version..

Top of pageBottom of page   By LTLFTC ( on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 11:07 pm:

Same here - the parts are so much more well defined ; I was disappointed when I got the cd and finally heard the RCA version;

Steve K.

Top of pageBottom of page   By M.McLeanTech ( on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 08:03 am:


You sure did a beautiful job on your opening post on this thread. Truely professional writing. This is one of the best threads I have ever seen on the forum.

If all the threads on the forum were like this, David would be forever gleeful!


Mike McLean

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 08:26 am:

Thank you Mr. McLean,
I don't have what I would call journalism skills, I'm just able to write what I feel. But I appreciate the compliment. I just love talking about this sort of thing and hope it doesn't get too boring. I've been aware of the name Mike McLean for a long time. I've always been one to read the track notes on albums and to try to find out who did what. By the way, when did Motown begin recording for stereo? I always thought that the album version of "I Want A Guy" by The Supremes was among the first, but I could be wrong.

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 08:42 am:

In the seventies, a number of artists such as Gladys Knight & The Pips & The Dramatics did their vocal overdubs at Artie Fields. It must must have been a good room for that.

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 09:09 am:

You are correct Mike.

I am a huge fan of Chicago Soul too.

Thanks for your all recent postings dvdmike.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 10:59 am:

Hello Sis and DVDMike,

Sis...that was the guy, he was a red headed guy with a great sense of humor and who knew just what he wanted. A good producer!

Regarding Artie Fields studio; It was a great room and I worked there on many occasions, sometimes in sessions, but usually doing technical work.

Jimmy Siracuse and Artie were close friends and he often sent me over there when Artie had technical problems that his guys could not resolve. Jimmy and Artie both purchased Stemco (Ampex knock off) 8 track recorders together. Jimmy, Bill Beltz, Jerry Trailer and I set up the United system and then went over to Artie's to do his.

The Detroit studio community was pretty close. Jerry Fredrick at Special Recordings, Jimmy and I would get together a couple of times a month for lunch.

Bob Olhsson would come over and hang with Danny and me often. And of course Russ and I were always talking together, almost every day.
The musicians would hang with us as well.

And there was the famous United Sound 3rd floor coffee room and kitchen. On occasion Jimmy would bring in his famous Italian cooking (his chicken cacciatore with fresh mushrooms was to die for!!!) and the word would get around fast. Then everyone would show up for a taste, musicians, voice-talents, engineers. I often wonder about the "grape-vine" that spread the new of that??? Even Russ would show up for that!

Those were wonderful times...

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 11:15 am:

I have to agree with you regarding the mixes CBS did of many classics such as the Vibrations' "Love In Them There Hills" (sounds like it was mixed through a cheap radio). I have a CD collection of Columbia/Epic R&B tracks from the 1960s/1970s and I hear what you mean about the drums. One of my favorite tracks, "Get It From The Bottom" by the Steelers (the Wells Brothers of Chicago) is in stereo but the mix is so weak & the drums sound like they were across the street!
Thank God for guys like Russ Terrana, Joe Tarsia & Bruce Swedien....
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 06:53 pm:

I know that Motown started recording on the West Coast around late 1963. Stevie Wonder, Brenda Holloway were probably the first ones to cut tracks out there. Does anyone know which studios they used? Carol Kaye told me that she did some sessions at Armin Steiner's T.T.G. Studios in Hollywood. Can anyone shed some light on this? Hal Davis, Marc Gordon and Harvey Fuqua produced most of the sessions. Who did the arrangements? Arthur Wright? James Anthony Carmichael? Gene Page?

Top of pageBottom of page   By MEL&THEN SOME ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 04:04 am:

One-Der-Ful records.
George Leaner was the owner of this label along with M-Pac,Marv-A-Lus and Halo(for gospel recordings).
George was a veteren in the record buisness since the 1940s when blues dominated the RnB charts. George Leaner specialised in urban heavy blues favoured Soul.
Georges brother Ernest ran the distribution side of the buisness,United Record Distributors,which they formed in 1950.The operation flourished during the 50s and 60s when independent companies and distributors were competing succesfully against the major labels.
The catalyst was McKinelly Mitchell who in august 1961 brought a demo of The town I live in to george.
After hearing it once,he decided to record the song and release it forming his own company.
One-der-ful records in marsh 1962.
George left United record distributors at 2029 S.Michigan on the citys famed record row,and set up shop six blocks south at 2642 S.Michigan.
In late 1963 both one-der-ful records and united distributors relocated to the same address 1827 S.Michigan.
As the company prospered,Midas,M-Pac,Marv-A-Lus and Halo for gospel recordings were added to the One-der-ful label.
George established a crack A&R and production department,catered around Mark Higgins(aka Milton Bland),Andre Williams and Jimmy Jones.
Excellent writers were found in Otis Hayles,Eddie Silvers and Larry Nestor.George placed his wifes maiden name Verlie Rice,on many of the recordings.
The label recorded hard soul music as vibrant and rowdy as the urban ghetto streets of Chicago from which it sprang.
By 1968 the one-der-ful empire began meeting hard times and eventually shut its doors.
George died in 1983 after a short illness and Earnest died in april 1990.Before his death in 1979-1981 george released some masters,to re-issue firms.
The Japanese P-Vine label releases six albums from the One-der-ful vaults.
And there were some compilation albums on the Joy record label that also came out.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 10:44 pm:

Hey Kev,

E mail me at and give me your phone number as I am always in NYC as I am now .

Top of pageBottom of page   By MEL&THEN SOME ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 12:26 pm:

Can anyone shed any light on this small chicago label for me?
Cle An Thair Records.
I Know of 4 cuts.
by Mary Alice McCall no.7727.
Jimmy Hudson no.7729.
Cleveland Eaton and the Kats no.7731.
and a version of the 4 Tops classic 'Reach out Ill be there' on no.102 by Spice.
Thse may be funk tracks as I Know Ian Levine was reviewing them and was about to play them at Blackpool Mecca.
And if he did and they are funk tracks,thats why I havent persued it until now.Can anyone enlighten me please.
4 beats to the bar stompin'mel.

Top of pageBottom of page   By larry ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 12:39 pm:

Everyone on this thread is just pourin' out the knowledge and I am grateful. Kudo's to all.


You can reach Carol at her website if you need info.

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Friday, December 27, 2002 - 01:40 pm:

Iarry, who is Carol? Are what is her website address?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Sidney Barnes ( on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 01:47 am:

Sidney Barnes here,use to be in Rotary Connection with Minnie Riperton. Recorded for Chess at Chess studios and other studios in and around Chicago. This is a great web site,It's bringing back so many great memories for me. I love it. Will be willing to answer any questions from any body regarding Minnie and the those great old Chess years.

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 10:43 am:

Sidney, didn't you do a lot of session singing? I seem to remember seeing your name on a number of Funkadelic albums as well as one of the Maurice White-produced Deniece Williams LPs. Tell us a little more about your Chicago days.

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 10:53 am:

The Crew Cuts' "Sh-Boom" was recorded at Universal Recording Studios in May 1954. They, along with the Diamonds were known as "cover groups". In the mid-'50s, whenever Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers or The Penguins or another Black doo-wop group would have a record that hit in the R&B circuit, one of these "white bread" groups would cut a "cleaner" version and outsell the original on the pop circuit. Pat Boone achieved the same success by "covering" Little Richard and Fats Domino. By the way, The Diamonds' big hit, "Little Darlin'" (a cover of The Gladiolas' R&B hit) was recorded at Universal Recording in January 1957.

Top of pageBottom of page   By LTLFTC ( on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 11:11 am:

Sidney !
It's great to see you here. Don't be surprised if you're deluged with questions about your Golden World/George Clinton etc era. Speaking of which, are there unreleased gems from that era lying around anywhere? Also, what do you remember about the Teresa Lindsay "I'll Bet You" sessions?
By the way I just taped that 1st Rotary Connection lp for a music professor who'd lost his copy. It still lives on , eh?

Steve K

Top of pageBottom of page   By Davie Gordon ( on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 03:31 pm:

Hi Sidney,

Welcome to the forum ! Please keep checking on
as we'll have lots of questions for you - however
my mind's gone a complete blank on seeing you
here :-)

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 09:07 pm:

Ariund 1976 I went to Chicago to record with Loleata Holloway at Paragon recording on Huron which was quite a funky studio as I remember it. Her husband the late Floyd Smith produced a version of Worn out broken heart and several others. It was quite fun indeed as I have always enjoyed Loleata and Floyd.
Paragon was home to the Ohio Players records as well as Benny Mardones.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 09:09 pm:

Please forgive the typos!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 09:23 pm:

Tom Tom arranged "Worn Out Broken Heart"

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