History of CBS Records 30th Street Studio NYC (many pictures)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DMortensen, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    W.B.: Do you have a date for that hijacking? I'm working on a timeline and it would be nice to add it.

    Thanks!
     
  2. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Sorry to take so long to reply to your question.

    Reposting the original, since I can't figure out how to make your edited shot visible:

    [​IMG]

    Guy in back looking at camera is the one in question.

    Actually, no, I don't think that looks like David. Thanks to Jskoda recognizing Susan Johnson, looking at The Most Happy Fella website shows

    [​IMG]

    I think the guy outside is John Henson, on the left in the pic above.

    What was David Oppenheim's job? I saw him labeled "CBS Technician" in one pic and "A&R -Classical" or something like that in another.
     
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  3. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Location:
    Frenchtown NJ USA
    Best thread ever!
     
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  4. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Did Diane Arbus take that photo? LOL.
     
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  5. Walter H

    Walter H Santa's Helper

    Location:
    New Hampshire, USA
    Head of Columbia Masterworks from 1950 to 1959, according to Wikipedia.
     
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  6. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    I don't have the exact period, but it would have been not long into the 1948 AFM recording ban (probably February - March), and what began as CBS Television News debuted on May 3, 1948. That should narrow it down somewhat. It was that which led CRI to eventually find 30th Street. I've heard and read that many classical acts that recorded there (including Andre Kostelanetz) weren't too happy about this, lamenting the loss of the "ideal" acoustics of Liederkranz and what some, at the outset, sniffed at as "inferior" setup of 30th.
     
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  7. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Which would be adequate reason to do a drastic acoustic makeover.

    Do you know what was the first classical act to record there? Or any early ones besides the NY Philharmonic session on Dec. 28, 1948 that Luke posted?

    Thanks!
     
  8. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    The picture from Let It Ride was taken in Webster Hall. A dead giveaway (I've learned in the last few days) is the speaker in the birdhouse-looking thing that's visible over Paula Stewart's right shoulder. Not to mention the framing around the stage and the unfaced baffles.

    Here is a picture of the trifecta of speaker, framing, and baffles:

    [​IMG]

    This is from a 1955 studio recreation of Carousel, with Robert Merrill, Patrice Munsel and, because it's a cool picture and relates to yours,

    [​IMG]

    a VERY young Florence Henderson!

    Different console and control room, though that's not very surprising.

    Here's another one that kind of shows tape decks, for those interested in that:

    [​IMG]

    And one of Don Ameche and Hildegard Neff in February 1955 in Silk Stockings

    [​IMG]

    And, Luke, you posted this last week

    which are more awesome observations.

    I've been looking through 1955-6 on the Masterworks site, and can't find pictures of anything that was recorded at 30th St between The Girl in Pink Tights and My Fair Lady. (EDIT: Looking over my next post, The Pajama Game was recorded May 16, 1954, so that's after Girl in Pink Tights. And the polycylindrical diffusers are still in place!) It appears you hit the nail on the head that recording was moved elsewhere while the diffusion was removed and they checked to see what the room sounded like. All the pictures from between those shows are from Webster Hall or other places. My hypothesis now is that they took all that crap out, listened to it a bunch and decided they liked it exactly the way it was at that moment and that was when the "leave it alone" edict came out from Mitch and probably Goddard to make it stick.

    It would seem likely that they also moved recording operations elsewhere when they redid the control room in 1962, and probably again when they removed the old control room around 1970.

    Regarding Webster Hall, does it still have that distinctive framing around the stage? Anybody been there recently?

    The other notable thing is that almost every picture I've seen shows those unfaced fiberglass(?) baffles, which must have been a joy to be around and brush into. Fiberglass, if that's what it was, in those days was not the relatively benign stuff that we use nowadays; it would burrow into your skin and make life miserable until it settled into your internal organs or wherever it went.

    And speaking of Mitch, here is that picture from 1940 of the guy who used to be Mitch Miller before the one that we knew:

    [​IMG]

    This is a lot for one post.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  9. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Here is an incomplete timeline of the Church building, with what we know as of today.

    1874, September 14 Cornerstone laid by Rev. William Adams D.D. (A Brief History of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church p.41)

    1875, March 28 Easter Sunday Dedicated as Memorial Chapel by Pastor Rev. Charles H. Payson (A Brief History of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church p.41)

    1886, January 21 Renamed Adams Memorial Presbyterian Church as an independent church with separate congregation (A Brief History of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church p.44)

    1896, November 14 First service of the Armenian Evangelical Church. Rev. H.H. Khazoyan, a seminary student, led the initial organization of the church and then became its first pastor. (http://aecnyc.org/about-us/our-history/)

    1901 Still in use by Adams Church and by Madison Square Church (The MSC library was housed here until completion of the Church House @E. 30th and 3rd Ave.) (A Brief History of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church pp.58 and 110)

    1906 The book that we are using as a reference “A Brief History of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church" was published under Rev. Charles Henry Parkhurst's name. (link to book in OP)

    1923 December 25 Sunday Armenian Evangelical Church moves to its own building at 152 E. 34th St, where it still is today.

    1940 Still looks like a church, possible lack of maintenance, possibly unused? Still owned by Presbyterians?

    1944, November: WLIB radio station sold to Dorothy S. Thackrey, publisher of New York Post

    1946: Two construction permits for 207 building alteration issued (to who???)

    1946, November 16: Billboard magazine says renovation for WLIB studios will begin “this week”

    1947: An Unsafe Building notice issued, and another alteration permit and other permits as well.

    1947, February 1: WLIB announces it will move into “new studios” in church building effective this day, possibly actually around July.

    1948, March-April-May?: Liederkranz Hall, previously used as audio recording studio by CBS/CRI, repurposed as TV studio

    1948, December 20: CBS/CRI New York Philharmonic with Charles Munch records in 207

    1949, January 13: Kiss Me Kate session, NO polycylindrical diffusers present

    1949, August 17: Certificate of Occupancy issued to “Owner” for use as broadcasting and photographic studios. Big room listed as 2nd floor.

    1949, September: NY Post in financial difficulty, sells WLIB to new owners at a loss.

    1949, December 19-20: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes session, polycylindrical diffusers ARE present

    1952, December 11: WLIB moves out of 207 to new studios in Harlem

    1954, March 14: The Girl in Pink Tights session, polycylindrical diffusers ARE present

    1954, May 16: Pajama Game OCR, WLIB sign still on building, polycylindrical diffusers ARE present

    1955, December?: Pipe Dream OCR, likely recorded Webster Hall

    1956, March 25, 1956: My Fair Lady session, polycylindrical diffusers NOT present, studio walls patchy

    1962, April 1: I Can Get It For You Wholesale recorded using old control room. Studio walls still patchy?

    1962, October 28: Mr. President recorded using new control room. Old control room still present.

    1970-ish: New linear fader console installed in new control room. Old control room removed? Studio cleaned up, painted, floor refinished, etc.

    1981 May: Last sessions, with Glenn Gould

    1982 or 83: Building torn down.
     
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  10. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Wow....CBS invaded the land of RCA and used Webster Hall! I had no idea.
     
  11. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I must have been out of it when I posted the Let It Ride photo. I see now that was an RCA release, not Columbia.

    Dan, did you spot any *Columbia* sessions at Webster hall from that period? It can sometimes be confusing on the Masterworks site, since both Columbia and RCA are now under the Sony umbrella.

    Also, I still question the "leave it alone" edict. Like I said, even after the diffusers were removed, it appears as if the placement of the various curtains changed a fair amount over time.

    And unless they were changed at some point, the diffusers were wood, not fiberglass:

    [​IMG]
    Author Anita Loos, on whose book the musical was based (Photo: Graphic House)

    That's definitely plywood.
     
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  12. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Whoa, you're saying there are RCA albums on the Masterworks site? And RCA did Broadway cast recordings, too? And they're the only ones who ever used Webster Hall? I'm completely oblivious to that!

    Have to look more closely, I've been assuming if it's on the Masterworks site it's Columbia. Phooey.

    The fiberglass I was referring to is in the baffles behind Robert Merrill/Patrice Munsel and Don Ameche/Hildegard Neff at Webster Hall. There are a couple pics on the Masterworks site from that period where only the fiberglass or rock wool (or whatever it is) is what's visible as background, with no wider shots of the studio.

    Yes, I agree that in the 30th St pics the diffusers are definitely plywood. And looking over my late night post, I see that I wrote "every picture I've seen" was fiberglass, without the necessary "at Webster Hall". Sorry for the omission.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  13. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yep. Since Sony owns the RCA catalog now.

    These are all RCA, for example:

    http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/music/pipe-dream-–-original-cast-recording-1955
    http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/music/carousel-–-studio-recording-1955
    http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/music/damn-yankees-–-original-broadway-cast-recording-1955
    http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/music/the-saint-of-bleecker-street-–-original-cast-recording-1955
    http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/music/silk-stockings-–-original-broadway-cast-1955

    Lots of photos from RCA from 1955, but few/none from Columbia.

    Ah, ok, got it.
     
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  14. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Huh. So then another mystery: what did they do during that hiatus? They just shut down their recording operation for anything that wouldn't fit into Studio A?

    And, yes, all those you listed are what I was looking at.
     
  15. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm not sure if there was a hiatus, or if the Masterworks site simply doesn't have anything from that year for some reason. It would be a lot easier if we had a Masterworks discography to reference, but I haven't yet come across one. BSN does have a listing of the Columbia CL series:

    http://www.bsnpubs.com/columbia/columbia12/columbia600.html
    http://www.bsnpubs.com/columbia/columbia12/columbia700.html
    http://www.bsnpubs.com/columbia/columbia12/columbia800.html
    http://www.bsnpubs.com/columbia/columbia12/columbia900.html

    But not the OL (Masterworks) series. It may still be helpful to look through that list though.

    I find it hard to believe they were shut down very long to remove the diffusers.
     
  16. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    Loving this thread!

    One of the great songs to come out of the 30th Street Church studios ...

     
  17. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    I might have missed this, but has anyone thought about contacting Don Hunstein, as he was the staff photographer at COLUMBIA RECORDS for years. He might be able to shed some more light on our prized 30th Street Studio?

    http://www.donhunstein.com/about.php
     
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  18. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    You reminded me that I've been meaning to, and sent a note. I know that he and his family have full plates now, though, so I wouldn't hold out too much hope. Thanks for the reminder, though.

    Also, thanks for posting the Bandstand theme. How do you know that it was recorded at 30th St, and do you know the date it was recorded?
     
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  19. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    I looked briefly at these again; the only indication on four of them that they are RCA is on the small album jacket pics that can't be enlarged, and I couldn't tell on Carousel at all.

    That seems like dirty pool, somehow. Masterworks was Columbia.

    :rant:

    In other news, I'm slowly putting together a list of recording dates in the studio, and so far have found 1955 sessions in 30th St. for Tony Bennett on January 4, May 8, June 30, Oct. 11, and Dec. 15 & 16. There was also a session on June 9 that was in "New York".

    The Glenn Gould sessions for the first Goldberg Variations album were June 10-16, so it appears there was definitely recording going on that year in the studio.
     
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  20. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    According to information that I found on the web (so it may not be correct?) ...

    "Bandstand Boogie" (Mx CO.50778) was recorded on January 29 1954 at the 30th Street Studios and released on 78 (40180) & 45 (45-40180) on March 1 1954 backed with "When Yuba Plays The Rumba On The Tuba"
     
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  21. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Considering the two companies' antagonistic relationship, it's curious to see an RCA console being used by Columbia! I guess RCA got to Webster Hall first... or was this an RCA session after all?
     
  22. Ellsworth

    Ellsworth Forum Resident

    I have nothing to add to this thread but I want to thank the folks posting here. This has been a terrific thread.
     
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  23. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    It was an RCA session.
     
  24. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Thanks for this. I'll use you as the source, so when I'm in court defending the list you may get a subpoena.

    Also, I heard back that Don is having health problems and won't be able to be an authoriative source for us. Think good thoughts for him.

    Which is a reminder that we are a few years late in this quest to tell the definitive story of the studio, but I didn't want to wait any longer because it would only get harder. I feel like we are making progress, even though most of the direct sources are either gone or not talking for whatever reason.

    As Luke said, it was an RCA session and I posted RCA pics in this CBS thread without knowing that both RCA and Columbia sessions are on the Masterworks site. I thought it was only CBS there.

    Now I am looking closer at that.
     
  25. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    I'm sorry to hear that Don is having health issues and wish him well. It's great that you tried to reach out to him, all the same and I find your work in "trying" to get the facts regarding the old 30th Street Church studio, a worthy cause. Maybe you could contact mastering engineer Vic Anesini, since he works for COLUMBIA/LEGACY now, as he might be willing to put you in touch with the people that are responsible for the old studio session paperwork? I'm guessing that some of that paperwork must still exist, as labels like BEAR FAMILY in Germany have very detailed recording session information, in the booklets of their box sets. The info is probably still out there, but like sometimes finding an original mono master tape, it might take some very detailed "investigative" work!
     

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