Storied Legacy

2200 Studios continues a long and illustrious path started by the legendary Record Plant Recording Studios originally formed in New York City in 1968. The Record Plant was distinctively established as the first recording studio to offer recording artists a relaxed, casual, club-like environment rather than the conservative, white-walled, clinical setting normally used in studios in the 1960’s. Due to the huge success of the New York studio, the Los Angeles branch of The Record Plant was opened the next year followed by the Sausalito location.

The Record Plant Recording Studios are steeped in history. It was in the New York studio that Jimi Hendrix recorded his final studio album, Electric Ladyland. And, sadly, John Lennon was recording his last song, Walking on Thin Ice, at the Record Plant New York on December 8, 1980, just hours before he was shot and killed while still clutched the recording in his hand.

The Los Angeles building was destroyed by fire in 1978 and later relocated and the New York location closed
in 1987 with the building repurposed. Although the Record Plant in LA still exists, 2200 Studios in Sausalito is
the last of the original Record Plant buildings still in existence. A veritable time capsule, 2200 Studios still
preserves its original 1970’s recording studio splendor and mystique.

Added as a getaway studio far from the pressures of the big city music industry, Record Plant Sausalito opened on October 28, 1972 with a Halloween-themed grand opening gala. Party invitations were crafted out of slabs of redwood, many of which still adorn the walls of the studio lobby. Among the guests were John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who both showed up dressed as redwood trees. The Record Plant in Sausalito soon became one of the top recording studios in the country.

The unique Sausalito studio featured many quirky amenities used to attract the ever-budding San Francisco
music scene. The studio boasted a jacuzzi hot tub and a billiards table as well as a waterbed on the conference room floor. Chefs were there to cook organic meals in the kitchen and tennis courts just outside the door allowed artists to play tennis between recordings. In the back there was a basketball hoop and on the nearby dock a speedboat was kept ready for quick exits.

The property contains four studios. Studio A is decorated with a redwood sunburst pattern on the wall and featuring a 32 foot high ceiling. Studio B is more vibrant to the eye, having multi-colored fabric layers on the ceiling and swirls of tufted color and a mirrored mural on the wall. The Garden Studio features an outdoor tropical garden with redwood decks and benches. The Garden Studio was previously known as “The Pit” when it was primarily used by the legendary Sly Stone and included his red velvet bed and private 10-foot deep sunken control pit.

The Pit’s appearance was futuristic, with bright maroon plush carpet on the floors, walls, ceiling, and stairs.
Psychedelic murals and embroidery added to the visual atmosphere. A loft bed was accessible from the perimeter of The Pit, reached only by climbing through a giant pair of red lips. At the head of the bed, audio jacks allowed for microphones to be connected to the console in The Pit so that an artist could vocalize from under the covers. Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch said that “it really was the height of the ‘70’s ‘over-the-top-ness”

Other than Sly and the Family Stone, early studio customers included most of the artists from the vibrant San Francisco music scene and beyond. One of the first clients, New Riders of the Purple Sage recorded The Adventures of Panama Red at the Plant. The Grateful Dead, Montrose, Tower of Power, Santana, John Lee Hooker, and many others recorded within these hallowed walls in the early 1970’s. In its first year, the studio worked on projects by Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix drummer Buddy Miles. Other projects included the Grateful Dead’s Wake of the Flood, and Gregg Allman's first solo album, Laid Back.

A unique element of the Sausalito studio was a live radio show. "Live From The Record Plant" was broadcast
on the San Francisco Bay Area’s most popular rock radio station KSAN also known as "Jive 95". The live broadcast began in 1973 with Bob Marley & The Wailers and later featured various artists such as the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Tubes, Peter Frampton, Pablo Cruise, Rory Gallagher, The Marshall Tucker Band, Elvin Bishop, Jimmy Buffett, Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt and Fleetwood Mac. Later the live broadcast was adopted by San Francisco’s KFOG and featured Nils Lofgren, Warren Zevon, Government Mule, Boz Scaggs, Cowboy Junkies, Little Feat, and David Crosby.

The mid-1970’s was a heyday for Rock music and a very busy time for the legendary Sausalito recording studio. In the studio Stevie Wonder worked on Songs in the Key of Life; Sammy Hagar used The Pit to record tracks for his solo album, and Tower of Power cut In the Slot. Also in studio in the mid-‘70’s: Pure Prairie League recorded Two Lane Highway, America produced its hit album Hearts, Joe Walsh worked on his new album, So What, and The Doobie Brothers recorded Stampede.

The fame and mystique of the Sausalito Record Plant brought on continued success in the later 1970’s as more and more artists sought out the solitude and the Plant’s reputation as a veritable hit factory.

In 1976, working with engineers Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut, Fleetwood Mac booked the Sausalito studio to record the record-breaking album Rumours. Most of the band members complained about the windowless studio and wanted to record at their homes, but Mick Fleetwood nixed this. Fleetwood remarked of his time at the studio that his band did not go into The Pit as it was usually occupied by strangers who were chopping powdered drugs into lines with razors. Despite the fabled drama associated with the making of the album, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours went Platinum in 1977 and went on to win the Grammy for best album beating out The Eagles’ Hotel California (which was recorded at the Record Plant LA).

Another rock milestone occurred in 1977 when a 19-year old burgeoning artist named Prince recorded his debut album For You over three months at the Sausalito Record Plant. At the Plant Prince met rock idols Sly Stone, Chaka Khan and Carlos Santana. Prince worked obsessively on the project, singing all vocals, and playing all the instruments. With all the work, including 46 vocal lines layered into the first track, Prince was exhausted. He later said that he was a "physical wreck" when he finished.

At this point, Gold and Platinum albums were almost expected from the Sausalito recording studio with Pablo Cruise recording two platinum albums and Dan Fogelberg recorded platinum as well. Singer, composer, and producer Rick James became a fixture at the Record Plant beginning in mid-1981. He recorded all of Street Songs in Studio B, and it went multiple platinum, driven by its hit songs "Super Freak" and "Give It to Me Baby". James was known both for his quick work to create songs in the studio and his high level of cocaine consumption. For a time, James lived in the conference room with the waterbed floor.

By 1981 the Record Plant sold the Sausalito studio and later became known as The Plant Studios. During this era the “Plant” was refurbished with new sound equipment and more modern acoustics. This era also brought more hit-making artists. Huey Lewis and the News made their hugely successful album Sports followed by John Fogerty’s Centerfield. Also in the studio, Aretha Franklin recorded Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

In 1985, with projects in progress by Heart, Journey, Starship, and Huey Lewis, the studio was seized by Federal Government Agents on a warrant accusing then owner Stanley Jacox of manufacturing methamphetamines at his home in Auburn (not in the studios!) and investing drug money in the studio. During the raid, Journey was recording their newest album. Their tapes and masters and equipment were seized by the feds and took months to recover. Then dubbed “Club Fed” the studios continued to operate as recording studios under the ownership of the federal government after the then studio manager convinced the feds that they would be able to get more in a government sale with the studios in operation. 2200 Studios is the only recording studio with the distinction of being both owned and operated by the federal government.

The government sold the studio at auction to recording engineer Bob Skye in 1986. In 1988 Skye recruited recording engineer Arne Frager as a partner. Spending $1 million, the Plant remodeled Studio A for Metallica in the 1990’s, raising the roof from 14 to 32 feet high to achieve the bigger drum sound demanded by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

Recording artists who worked at The Plant during this period and into the 2000’s include Sammy Hagar, Kenny G, Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton, Luther Vandross, Chris Isaak, BB King, the Dave Matthews Band, Primus, John Lee Hooker, Third Eye Blind, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Deftones, Joe Satriani, Journey, Tracy Chapman, Van Morrison, and the Doobie Brothers. Released in 1999, Santana's huge comeback album, Supernatural, was made at The Plant.

Whether it was called the “Record Plant”, “Plant Studios”, “The Plant”, or the one thing is for sure: With over thirty Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and over 100 gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums and hits to its credit, the historic Sausalito recording studio now known as 2200 Studios is probably the hardest working recording studio in history. 2200 Studios celebrates its eclectic and illustrious past and looks forward to catering to all music lovers and artists well into the future.