Little Mountain Sound Studios

Little Mountain Sound Studios

Little Mountain Sound Studios was a music recording facility located in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is the most successful recording studio in Western Canada and was the home for many years to producers Bruce Fairbairn and Bob Rock. Little Mountain recorded albums by Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Metallica, Bryan Adams, Mötley Crüe, Loverboy and the Cult among many others.

History

Little Mountain Sound Studios was started in 1972 as a 50/50 partnership between Western Broadcasting (CKNW radio) and Griffiths, Gibson Productions (GGP). Geoff Turner was hired to design, build and manage the studio. Turner was a studio owner, audio engineer and studio designer from England by way of New York. CKNW required large recording spaces to record radio jingles, sometimes with a full orchestra. Geoff designed a facility with two large recording studios, and several small recording and production spaces.

In 1974, Geoff Turner was fired as manager because he was "too hippie-ish" and his personna was not in keeping with the grand view of things that the GGP people had. He went on to found and operate Pinewood Studios, an audio post production facility named after the famous English recording stages. Turner would also design and build several other music studios including Crosstown Studios and Profile Studios.

After Turner's termination, Bob Brooks was hired to manage Little Mountain. Brooks was an independent producer working out of an office at CKWX after having left Homer Street Studios. In 1977, Western Broadcasting bought out GGP to become sole owner. In 1982, Western Broadcasting sold the studio to Bob Brooks. Brooks owned Little Mountain until the sale to the Levens brothers in 1992.

Bruce Fairbairn started recording at Little Mountain Sound Studios with Prism, a band in which he played trumpet. Fairbairn would go on to do the bulk of his work there as an independent producer. Bob Rock worked for Little Mountain and engineered for Fairbairn for several years before becoming a major music producer himself.

In addition to the high profile music clients, Little Mountain did a significant amount of other audio recording. Through the 70's and 80's the facility was an equal balance of music and audio post clients. Little Mountain was home to GGRP, a major Vancouver based jingle house. The studio also did film work.

In 1990, David Robertson (entertainment entrepreneur and songwriter (Baywatch)) made an offer to Brooks to purchase the studio and took over management of the studio when his offer was accepted. Robertson had great respect for the history of the studio but understood that times were changing due to new technologies and that the studio would need investment input to remain competitive. In an attempt to increase revenues, Robertson removed the audio post department in studio C as the profit margins were much higher for studios A and B. But despite extraordinary efforts on his part, Robertson was unable to find a private investor or investors to back his purchase deal, so Brooks accepted an offer from the Levens brothers who continue to own the Little Mountain name to this day. With sound management, the studio continued its run of success. The lease expired after 20 years in 1993, the landlord would not renew and the original location closed. The Little Mountain facility has since been subdivided and is now the home of Vancouver Rockspace and The Factory Studios.

The studio facility itself can be seen and figures prominently in the Aerosmith DVD "The Making of Pump" (1990).

Clients

Aerosmith recorded their trilogy of comeback albums, Permanent Vacation, Pump and the monster seller Get a Grip with Bruce Fairbairn producing. Bruce Fairbairn was a key part of the resurgence of the legendary band.

Bon Jovi recorded their 3 most commercially successful albums with Bruce Fairbairn and Bob Rock. Slippery when Wet, named for Vancouver's infamous strip clubs, New Jersey and Keep the Faith were done in Vancouver.

Bryan Adams recorded parts of his world wide break through Reckless at Little Mountain.

Mötley Crüe also recorded their biggest seller Dr. Feelgood with Bob Rock. Decade of Decadence was also recorded at Little Mountain.

David Coverdale and Jimmy Page did the initial recording of their album at Little Mountain with Mike Fraser producing. Jimmy Page showed David Robertson an acoustic guitar that Jimmy had purchased from John Lennon which Lennon used when he and Paul McCartney wrote most of the The Beatles earliest hits.

Loverboy recorded much of their catalog at Little Mountain. David Robertson re-introduced Steven Tyler of Aerosmith to Loverboy lead singer Mike Reno while Reno was recording a solo album in Studio A with several members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Olivia Newton-John recorded and remixed "Don't Cry For Me Argentina in 1977. Engineered by Armin Steiner.

Other notable International clients include AC/DC, Kingdom Come, Whitesnake, Poison, Scorpions, David Lee Roth, Honeymoon Suite, Skid Row, Krokus, Dan Reed Network, David Bowie, Bay City Rollers, BTO, Little Caesar, Julio Iglesias, Jeff Healy, Warrant, Nazareth, Blue Murder, Electric Boys. Many Canadian artists also recorded highly successful albums including The Tragically Hip, Prism, Colin James and the Little Big Band, Payola$, Grapes Of Wrath, Images In Vogue, Quickflight, Chilliwack, Skinny Puppy, Kim Mitchell, and Valdy.

People

Little Mountain Sound Studios was the home to some of the top audio people in the world. Many of the top audio people in Western Canada got their start and built their career at the studio. Randy Staub started working as Bob Rock's engineer, while at A&M studios in Hollywood, and is now one of the top music mixers in the world. Roger Monk, Mike Fraser, Ron Obvious, Ken Lomas, Pat Glover, Mike Plotnikoff and Brian Dobbs were all audio engineers, the latter two hired by David Robertson who also oversaw extensive renovations of the lobby, lounge and Studio A washrooms.

John Vrtacic was the Technical Director of Little Mountain for many years. He is credited with maintaining and improving upon the original Geoff Turner design. John Vrtacic is considered one of the top audio technicians in the world and has been involved in the design and technical operation of many of the top music studios in Western Canada along with Metallica's home studio and Bob Rock's home studio. He is also an equipment designer.


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