|52 West Eighth Street, Greenwich Village, New York City 10011
|New York City
|August 26, 1970
Electric Lady Studios is a recording studio in Greenwich Village, New York City. It was commissioned by rock musician Jimi Hendrix in 1968 and designed by architect John Storyk and audio engineer Eddie Kramer by 1970.Hendrix spent only ten weeks recording in Electric Lady before his death that year, but it quickly became a famed studio used by many top-selling recording artists from the 1970s onwards, including Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, and David Bowie.
At the turn of the 21st century, Electric Lady served as a home for the innovative Soulquarians collective, but fell into financial hardship and disarray in the 2000s. Taken over and renovated by investor Keith Stoltz and studio manager Lee Foster, the studio returned to form as a popular location for mainstream artists of the 2010s, such as John Mayer, U2, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga.
Before it became Electric Lady Studios, the building housed The Village Barn nightclub from 1930 to 1967. Abstract expressionist artist Hans Hofmann began lecturing there in 1938, two decades before he turned to painting full-time.
In 1968, Jimi Hendrix and his manager Michael Jeffery bought the Generation, a newly defunct nightclub in New York's Greenwich Village.Hendrix had frequently joined jam sessions at the venue, which had hosted acts as diverse and legendary as Big Brother & the Holding Company, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Dave Van Ronk, Sly & the Family Stone, and John Fahey. Hendrix had planned to resuscitate the nightclub, but was persuaded by advisors Eddie Kramer and Jim Marron to convert the space into a professional recording studio. Studio fees for the lengthy Electric Ladyland sessions had been astronomical, and Hendrix was constantly in search of a recording environment that suited him.
Architect and acoustician John Storyk oversaw the conversion. Construction of the studio took nearly double the time and money planned. Permits were delayed numerous times, the site flooded due to heavy rains during demolition, and sump pumps had to be installed (then soundproofed) after the building was found to be atop a tributary of an underground river, Minetta Creek.
The studio was constructed specifically for Hendrix, with round windows and a machine to generate ambient lighting in myriad colors. It was designed to have a relaxing feel to encourage Hendrix's creativity, but also provide a professional recording atmosphere. Hendrix spent only 10 weeks recording in Electric Lady, most of which during the final phases of construction were still occurring. His last studio recording, a new solo demo for "Belly Button Window", was recorded on August 22. The last mix session with Eddie Kramer took place on August 24 on "Freedom", "Night Bird Flying", "Dolly Dagger", and "Belly Button Window". An opening party was held on August 26, 1970. Hendrix then boarded an Air India flight for London to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival; he died less than three weeks later.
In the following three decades, many popular artists recorded albums at Electric Lady."From its inception, [Hendrix']s mother ship served as a rock, funk, disco and soul Olympus where gold and platinum hits were forged", Liesl Schillinger wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
Stevie Wonder used the studio extensively in the 1970s, when it became what he described as "the self-contained universe" for his work, wanting to depart from the "baby love" sound of his 1960s Motown recordings and "get as weird as possible". Among his recordings there were the 1972 albums Music of My Mind and Talking Book .
Others users included Led Zeppelin, Lou Reed, Hall & Oates, the Rolling Stones, and Blondie. In 1971, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, then with the New York rock band Wicked Lester, recorded demos at the studio. They returned a few years later to record Kiss's 1975 album Dressed to Kill .
In 1975, John Lennon and David Bowie held an improvisatory session at the studio that produced Bowie's hit single "Fame" for his Young Americans album. That same year, Patti Smith used the studio to record her debut album, Horses . In 1978, Nile Rodgers took his band Chic to Electric Lady and recorded the hit single "Le Freak". In 1981, The Waitresses recorded their holiday hit "Christmas Wrapping" there.
"The enchantment held through the '80s and '90s, as AC/DC and the Clash showed up, then Billy Idol, the Cars, Weezer and Santana", Schillinger wrote. "The house that Jimi built welcomed them all."
From 1997 to the early 2000s, the Soulquarians, an experimental black music collective, held jam sessions and recorded albums at the studio, often drawing on the influence of Hendrix and Wonder's recordings.This period at the turn of the 21st century is known in the studio's history as the Soulquarians era.
In 1997, the singer D'Angelo and drummer-producer Questlove (of the Roots) prepared to record the former's second album Voodoo (2000). This led to adjacent sessions at the studio over the next five years that produced the Roots' albums Things Fall Apart (1999) and Phrenology (2002), singer Erykah Badu's second album Mama's Gun (2000), rapper Common's Like Water for Chocolate (2000) and Electric Circus (2002), and singer Bilal's debut album 1st Born Second (2001).Questlove often acted as the director behind the sessions. "I tried to do all in my power that I could to bring people together – to bring Common to Electric Lady, have him record here whenever so that he could record with some of these other artists," he said in 2002. "You'd just come into [the studio's] A Room, you don't even know who has a session, but you call me: 'Who's down there?' 'Common's in there today.' So you come down, you order some food, sit down and bullshit, watch a movie, and then it's, 'Let's play something.' And I say, 'Who wants this [track]?' And it would be, 'I want it!' 'No, I want it!'"
Eventually, the Soulquarians' period at the studio ended, in part because labels declined to release the experimental music it was producing.Bilal held improvisatory jam sessions at the studio for his second album, Love for Sale , which the label hesitated to release, and then shelved after it leaked. Common's similarly experimental Electric Circus sold disappointingly, which discouraged his and the Roots' shared label, MCA Records, from letting the artistically free environment at the studio continue. Producer Mark Ronson, who often visited Electric Lady during the Soulquarians period, said in 2015 that the studio's "glory-days era had sort of ended". According to Schillinger "after the Soulquarians had departed, the place had gone further downhill."
After years of financial hardship,the studio was taken over by investor Keith Stoltz and studio manager Lee Foster in 2010. They renovated and expanded the studio, adding a new mixing studio on the second floor and turning the third into a self-contained unit including Studio C, a private lounge, and another mixing suite.
The studio has since been used by popular recording artists, such as Kanye West,Adele, Jay-Z, Keith Richards (for the 2011 expanded reissue of the Stones' Some Girls LP), Daft Punk (for their 2013 album Random Access Memories ), and U2 (for their 2014 album Songs of Innocence ). John Mayer used this studio to record Born and Raised album, one of his best so far. Taylor Swift has frequently recorded at the studio, notably for the albums Lover (2019), Folklore (2020), Midnights (2022), and the re-recordings of Fearless (2021), Red (2021), Speak Now (2023) and 1989 (2023). Mixing engineer Tom Elmhirst held a residency in Studio C, where in 2014 he mixed the Beck album Morning Phase; he has commented on the pace of work by saying "this place is a beating heart". Schillinger wrote in 2015 that "one day last winter, seven sessions proceeded simultaneously, including: Interpol in Studio A; Jon Batiste (the bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert ) in Studio B's live room; and Lana Del Rey, Rod Stewart and producer and singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys all working on the third floor."
On December 7, 2020, the band Bleachers, who had recorded the song "Chinatown" at the studio, released a performance video filmed on the roof of the building with Bruce Springsteen.In late 2022, the Rolling Stones performed live in the studio before their future producer Andrew Watt in preparation for the production of their new studio album Hackney Diamonds .
Electric Ladyland is the third and final studio album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, released in October 1968. A double album, it was the only record from the Experience with production solely credited to Hendrix. The band's most commercially successful release and its only number one album, it was released by Reprise Records in the United States on October 16, 1968, and by Track Records in the UK nine days later. By mid-November, it had reached number 1 on the Billboard Top LPs chart, spending two weeks there. In the UK it peaked at number 6, where it spent 12 weeks on the British charts.
Edwin H. Kramer is a South African-born recording producer and engineer. He has collaborated with several artists now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, the Kinks, Kiss, John Mellencamp, and Carlos Santana, as well as records for other well-known artists in various genres.
Axis: Bold as Love is the second studio album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was first released by Track Records in the United Kingdom on December 1, 1967, only seven months after the release of the group's highly successful debut album, Are You Experienced. In the United States, Reprise Records delayed the release until the following month. The album reached the top ten in the album charts in both countries.
"Little Wing" is a song written by Jimi Hendrix and recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1967. It is a slower tempo, rhythm and blues-inspired ballad featuring Hendrix's vocal and guitar with recording studio effects accompanied by bass, drums, and glockenspiel. Lyrically, it is one of several of his songs that reference an idealized feminine or guardian angel-like figure. At about two and a half minutes in length, it is one of his most concise and melodically focused pieces.
Mama's Gun is the second studio album by American singer Erykah Badu. It was recorded between 1999 and 2000 at Electric Lady Studios in New York and released on November 21, 2000, by Motown Records. A neo soul album, Mama's Gun incorporates elements of funk, soul, and jazz styles. It has confessional lyrics by Badu, which cover themes of insecurity, personal relationships, and social issues. The album has been viewed by critics as a female companion to neo soul artist D'Angelo's second album Voodoo (2000), which features a similar musical style and direction. Critics have also noted that while Badu's first album Baduizm contained its share of cryptic lyricism, Mama's Gun is much more direct in its approach, and places the artist in a subjective position more than its predecessor.
Band of Gypsys is a live album by Jimi Hendrix and the first without his original group, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was recorded on January 1, 1970, at the Fillmore East in New York City with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums, frequently referred to as the Band of Gypsys. The album mixes funk and rhythm and blues elements with hard rock and jamming, an approach which later became the basis of funk rock. It contains previously unreleased songs and was the last full-length Hendrix album released before his death six months later.
A jam session is a relatively informal musical event, process, or activity where musicians, typically instrumentalists, play improvised solos and vamp over tunes, drones, songs, and chord progressions. To "jam" is to improvise music without extensive preparation or predefined arrangements, except for when the group is playing well-known jazz standards or covers of existing popular songs. Original jam sessions, also called "free flow sessions," are often used by musicians to develop new material (music) and find suitable arrangements. Both styles can be used simply as a social gathering and communal practice session. Jam sessions may be based upon existing songs or forms, may be loosely based on an agreed chord progression or chart suggested by one participant, or may be wholly improvisational. Jam sessions can range from very loose gatherings of amateurs to evenings where a jam session coordinator or host acts as a "gatekeeper" so that appropriate-level performers take the stage to sophisticated improvised recording sessions by professionals which are intended to be broadcast live on radio or TV or edited and released to the public.
Electric Circus is the fifth studio album by American rapper Common, released on December 10, 2002, on the now-defunct MCA Records. The album was highly anticipated and praised by many critics for its ambitious vision. However, it was not as commercially successful as his previous album, Like Water for Chocolate, selling under 300,000 copies. An eclectic album, Electric Circus features fusions of several genres such as hip hop, pop, rock, electronic, and neo soul. "I wasn't feeling hip hop," the rapper remarked. "So my motivation for that album were other genres of music, like Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. It wasn't hip hop." This was Common's second and last album for MCA, as well as the final album released under the label, which would soon be merged into Geffen Records a year later.
The Soulquarians were a rotating collective of experimental Black music artists active during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Members of the collective included singer and multi-instrumentalist D'Angelo, drummer and producer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, producer J Dilla, singer-songwriter Erykah Badu, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, keyboardist James Poyser, singer Bilal, bassist Pino Palladino, rapper-producers Q-Tip and Mos Def, and rappers Talib Kweli and Common. Prior to its formation, Q-Tip, Common, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli were members of the Native Tongues collective, while Q-Tip's original group A Tribe Called Quest served as another inspiration behind the Soulquarians.
Jimi Hendrix (1942–1970) was an American guitarist whose career spanned from 1962 to 1970. His discography includes the recordings released during his lifetime. Prior to his rise to fame, he recorded 24 singles as a backing guitarist with American R&B artists, such as the Isley Brothers and Little Richard. Beginning in late 1966, he recorded three best-selling studio albums and 13 singles with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. An Experience compilation album and half of a live album recorded at the Monterey Pop Festival were also issued prior to his death. After the breakup of the Experience in mid-1969, songs from his live performances were included on the Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More and Band of Gypsys albums. A studio single with the Band of Gypsys was also released.
"Mercy, Mercy" is a soul song first recorded by American singer/songwriter Don Covay in 1964. It established Covay's recording career and influenced later vocal and guitar styles. The songwriting is usually credited to Covay and Ron Alonzo Miller, although other co-writers' names have also appeared on various releases.
Rainbow Bridge is a compilation album by American rock musician Jimi Hendrix. It was the second posthumous album release by his official record company and is mostly composed of recordings Hendrix made in 1969 and 1970 after the breakup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Despite the cover photo and subtitle Original Motion Picture Sound Track, it does not contain any songs recorded during his concert appearance for the 1971 film Rainbow Bridge.
"Ezy Ryder" is a song written and recorded by American musician Jimi Hendrix. It is one of the few studio recordings to include both Buddy Miles on drums and Billy Cox on bass, with whom Hendrix recorded the live Band of Gypsys album (1970).
West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology is a posthumous box set by American rock musician Jimi Hendrix. The set was released on November 16, 2010, in the US and includes four discs of previously unreleased studio and live recordings as well as a DVD with a documentary based on the life and career of Hendrix directed by Bob Smeaton called Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child.
James Kelly Robinson II was an American recording engineer, record producer and musician. He was best known for his engineering techniques with both analogue and digital audio recordings with prominent popular pop and rock records in American music from the late 1960s to the present. In addition to his recording expertise, Robinson was also an accomplished musician in his own right and had been awarded gold records as both a saxophonist and bass guitarist.
People, Hell and Angels is a posthumous compilation album by the American rock musician Jimi Hendrix. The fourth release under the Experience Hendrix deal with Legacy Recordings, it contains twelve previously unreleased recordings of tracks he was working on for the planned follow-up to Electric Ladyland. It was released on March 5, 2013.
American guitarist Jimi Hendrix intended to release his fourth studio album as a double or triple LP before Christmas 1970. From June to August 1970, he made good progress on the realization of the planned album in his new Electric Lady Studios. Many songs were mixed on 20, 22 and 24 August. Four of these mixes were regarded as definitive versions and were presented at the opening party of Electric Lady on 26 August. Hendrix died on 18 September that year, leaving behind an enormous number of unreleased recordings in various stages of completion. It is impossible to know what Hendrix would have changed and what he actually would have released, but there is some documentation of the album configurations he had in mind. While a good amount of the designated tracks only needed some finishing touches, others only existed as rough recordings, and for some titles no recordings are known to exist. The Cry of Love (1971), Voodoo Soup (1995) and First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997) are officially released attempts to reconstruct the planned album. First Rays of the New Rising Sun is usually regarded as closest to Hendrix's vision, but features a track that was probably never part of Hendrix's plans and omits some tracks that were definitely considered. All but one of the tracks that are known to have been recorded for the album have eventually been released in some form on official albums.
"Night Bird Flying" is a rock song written by Jimi Hendrix. It is a complex piece with multiple guitar parts and reflects a variety of styles. Lyrically, Hendrix continues to explore an idealized feminine figure, as in his 1967 song "Little Wing".
"Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" or simply "Hey Baby" is a song written and recorded by American musician Jimi Hendrix, from his second posthumous album Rainbow Bridge (1971). The song is a slower and more melodic piece, which features the prominent use of chorus- and tremolo-effects on guitar. Hendrix uses an idealized feminine figure that recurs in several of his lyrics. Commentators have seen the song as representative of his post-Band of Gypsys musical direction.