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BTTF #8: Partying With Gun's N Roses In Canoga Park's Rumbo Recorders

Reposted with permission from Rumbo Recorders
Welcome aboard the Delorean! Marty McFly here to take you on a journey to a very hidden and secretive location that we happened to stumble upon while hovering the streets of the Valley. The Delorean has the required plutonium plus some random garbage in the Mr. Fusion reactor ready for this trip. The time circuits are set to 1979 (actual date unknown) and the flux capciator is.........fluxxing. The engine is running (not stalled this time) so we need to hurry. Hang on, as the ride can be a little bumpy as we travel back in time to 20215 Saticoy Street Canoga Park CA 91306. This address was the location for the Rumbo Recorders Studio.
There is so much history to discuss here, its not even fair. Lets start off with the origins of the Rumbo Recorders Studio. It was designed and built by Daryl Dragon in 1979 where he believed (from Rumbo Recorders):
Comfort along with a 'no pressure', creative environment in a studio was always the motto that Daryl believes enhanced he & his wife's (Toni Tennille) success in the music industry, and with the successful track records of countless other successful producers / engineers / artists that have since completed projects at Rumbo for more than two decades, the musical outflow from Rumbo speaks for itself.
Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille were the successful duo of Captain & Tennille that had such hits as "Love Will Keep Us Together" and Do That To Me One More Time" and reached the pinnacle of their success in the mid-70's winning a Grammy Award for "Love Will Keep Us Together". They were so popular in the 70's that they were "invited by First Lady Betty Ford to the White House in 1976 to perform for Queen Elizabeth II and President Gerald Ford (Wikipedia)". Here is a video of one of their performances if you are struggling to remember. 

I dont want to go too far off tangent but here are some other facts about Captain & Tennille with respect to the San Fernando Valley. 
  • Captain & Tennille lived in a house they dubbed the "Butterscotch Castle" (which was appropriately the title of one of their songs) located on Cree Trail in the Twin Lakes area of Chatsworth. There are rumors floating around the internet that they lived in the Eagles Nest but that is incorrect. (email transcript)
  • Captain & Tennille were first discovered at the Smoke House Restaurant in Encino in 1973 by Wink Martindale.
  • Captain attended CSUN for 6 years but never graduated because he couldnt pass physics (here,  here, and email transcript).  
  • Captain and Tennille performed at what was known as the North Campus of CSUN (the old Devonshire Downs, now Medtronic) for the 4th of July celebration in 1994 after the Northridge earthquake (CSUN).
  • Also, in a People Magazine article titled "Year of the Dragons" from October 18, 1976, there is mention of CSUN in the article, "He chucked his traditional training ("I never got over Fats Domino and the blues") at Cal State (Northridge)"....not sure what that means.
So back to the Rumbo Recorders, The Captain built this 10,000 sqft, three studio room state of the art recording studio in Canoga Park in 1979. Lets put this into perspective, Canoga Park in the late 70's was a small sleepy town that was known for the Topanga Mall and Rocketdyne amongst others (if even that) with  suburban living all around it. By the early 80's, most of Canoga Park was developed except for various plots of land that would be developed into the 80's, 90's, and still to today. Actually, an apartment complex was just completed right next to the studio.  This part of the Valley was the last to be raided by the developers which is now expanding to Porter Ranch. 

So the fact that the Captain built this studio "in the middle of nowhere" instead of developing in Hollywood, Burbank, etc was quite the gamble.  If you were a musician living in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, wherever, you would have to hop on the 101 and drive for about 30 minutes to Canoga Park, which is not bad but for the  busy lives of entertainers could seem as being undesirable.

But that was not case as the Rumbo Recorders Studio became very successful and was utilized by a who's who of artists including Captain & Tennille (of course), Paula Abdul, Celine Dion, Kiss, Tom Petty And The HeartBreakers, Rage Against the Machine, and Stone Temple Pilots amongst others. You can view the entire list here

One notable recording group was Guns 'N' Roses who recorded parts of the infamous Appetite for Destruction album there in 1987. You might remember some of their songs from that album, here is one of them:

So you are probably wondering why GNR picked Rumbo Studios of all places to record an ablum. According to Nikki Darling at the LA Weekly, Mike Clink, producer for GNR, chose this studio because of its distance from Hollywood to avoid the possibility to "wander away into the street and into trouble." And therein lies the reason for why other artists probably chose this location because of its seclusion from the Hollywood atmosphere. Isnt that why we all moved to the suburb's? I suggest reading the article by Darling which she mentioned was supposedly the location for "Rocket Queen" (if you know that song, then you know what I am talking about). Also, there is another good historical account of GNR here

Check out pics of the Rumbo Recorders in its prime (also check out a cool brochure here):

Reposted with permission from Rumbo Recorders
Reposted with permission from Rumbo Recorders
Reposted with permission from Rumbo Recorders
So time to head back into the Delorean and go Back To The Future

Something weird happened on our travel back in time. It appears that the space time continuum has been altered. In the Spring of 2003, the Captain and Tennille decided to sell Rumbo Recorders. NO!!! 

Dramatic Changes in the recording / music industries as of the year 2000 or so, had unfortunately taken it's toll on just about all recording facilities - as well as the entire music-recording business in general; negative changes consisting mainly of what has been labeled 'internet audio-file sharing / swapping' or illegal music piracy, which had literally created a permanent 'on hold' condition in the record business - which will probably continue to stifle the industry - until the industry can figure out a 'fix' (an alternative income-earning-model) for this ongoing problem. Illegal 'pirating ' or file sharing of copyrighted music, along with record company's resulting limited artist-rosters and dwindling recording budgets, had basically resulted in a massive shut-down of many other independent recording facilities across the nation as well. SO: It was decided at that time, that it was probably a wise idea to 'sell Rumbo' - just in case an easy 'fix' for the recording industry was not just around the corner.
It is certainly possible that the climate of the recording industry could change for the better - dramatically - very soon, and that Rumbo will again produce tons more of the great (radio friendly) music it has been known for - throughout it's long history. Whatever the climate of the recording industry, Toni and Daryl wish all the best for the new owners of this very special studio. 
And there it is, "change in the name of progress." I had the opportunity to see the Rumbo Recorders recently which has been altered by the current owners to accomodate special events like Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, etc. The good news is that the building remains the same and a majority of it looks original. Even some of the original equipment remains although in a disorganized fashion. I was told that they still use the studio for recording but the site has become mixed use for parties and art galleries. Maybe this is what the place needs in order to be viable.

What was even more surprising is that official RIAA record certifications presented to Rumbo Recorders are still hanging on the wall. The buyer was able to buy the property as well as history, what a deal regardless of the price. I have to say that walking through the studio was truly breathtaking as I tried to relive the studio at its height with GNR creating the Appetite For Destruction album. Who knows what was going on at that time, would have love to been a fly on the wall. And all of this happened on Saticoy St in Canoga Park, of all places!

If you look at the picture of the building, you can see the differences when compared to the original picture from the Rumbo Recorders website at the very top. Aside for aesthetic differences, the building remains the same inside and outside. You will also notice the new apartment complex to the left of the building. So thankfully, the studio wasnt torn down like some of the other sites discussed in this series.

Lastly, I want to briefly mention the new owner, Morteza Barjesteh, who is an Iranian singer and musician as well as a resident of Woodland Hills. A video was posted on Youtube featuring Mr. Barjesteh at the studio that can be seen in various shots including an interview conducted in one of the control rooms (I believe Studio B), dancing scenes in Studio A (??), and shots of the various records on the wall. Also, the video is in Farsi, so I have no idea what is being said but I did hear "Guns N Roses, Tom Petty...." at one point during the video. Almost forgot one thing, the new studio is now called Metronome Studio.

One other minor tidbit that might or might not be related, I was reviewing a map of this area and discovered that a new housing tract, 3 homes to be exact built in 2005 and 2006, near the studio had a new street created with the name, Dragon Lane. Dont know if this is a coincidence but seems fitting to honor the great Daryl Dragon of Captain & Tennille who not only brought us great music but a studio to create memorable music which we all grew up listening to from the 80's to the early 2000's.

P.S. The SFValleyblog prays for and hopes Daryl Dragon can overcome the tremors he has been suffering lately that is impacting his ability to play music and entertain. Captain and Tennille currently reside in Prescott, AZ where Tennille continues to perform today.
Check out the other Back To The Future Series by clicking on the Back To The Future Series tab above or links provided below:

5. BTTF Series #5: The Promenade Mall at Woodland Hills


LA Weekly Article by Nikki Darling

Official Captain and Tennille Website -- Clients List

Official Captain and Tennille Website -- Rumbo Recorders Homepage

Official Toni Tennille Website -- Rumbo Recorders Sold

People Magazine - Year of The Dragons Article 1976

Rumbo Recorders Brochure - 1980

Wikipedia -- Captain and Tennille

Retroland website interview

L.A. Times -- 1994 Article

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

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