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Musical About Legendary Recording Studios Premieres At San Diego Rep

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Celebrated musicians from The Ronettes to The Ramones all recorded songs at Phil Spector's Gold Star Recording Studios in Los Angeles. Those stories are told in a world premiere musical now playing at the San Diego Repertory Theatre.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Recording music is a whole lot easier now than it used to be. A quiet room, some good software and editing apps, and you're on your way. That's not the way it was. Back in the day of gold star recording studio in La. Technician's worked with some of the biggest names in music to roll out, hit after hit, creating each performance. Unique Sound Gold Stars, the studio where Phil Spector developed his famous wall of sound technique. As you can hear

Speaker 2: 00:27 in the Ronnettes. He my baby and [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:51 Gold Star is the studio that's at the center of a world premier musical playing at the San Diego Rep journey. Me Are Brad Ross, the son of Gold Star Cofounder Stan Ross and Brad, welcome. Thank you very much. Great to be here. And his friend John Rosenberg. John, welcome. Thank you very much. These are the two San Diego's who are behind the musical 33 and a third house of dreams bread. Were you able to be in gold star studio when some of the hits were being made?

Speaker 3: 01:20 I was, I was able to witness a number of different recording artists that came in. Um, probably the most unfortunate sessions I wasn't able to attend was Phil Spector. And uh, Phil Spector liked his sessions real loud and I was pretty young at the time and my father didn't want to risk damage to my ears. Plus I think there was a little bit of erratic behavior going on that probably he didn't want me around either.

Speaker 1: 01:44 No, I know there was so many, but can you give us some idea of the hits recorded at goal?

Speaker 3: 01:48 Oh, sure. Well, we can start with Tequila by the champs. Richie Valens La Bomba. Come on, let's go. Um, there is, um, Sonny and Cher. Of course. I got you babe. And the beat goes on the righteous brothers. You've lost that 11 feeling that beach boys, good vibe.

Speaker 4: 02:06 Good vibrations by the beach boys. That's the one. Yeah. Yeah,

Speaker 2: 02:14 she's in meeting [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 02:38 she's close. So yeah,

Speaker 3: 02:41 they were over 120, top 40 hits over 120 top 40 hits that were recorded at gold star.

Speaker 1: 02:48 No, I know that there is a lot of music in 33 and a third, a house of dreams. But Brad was the storyline.

Speaker 3: 02:55 Well, we wanted to have the audience explore what it's like to be inside the walls of Goldstar. So the story begins back in 1946 where Stan gets his first job out of high school in a recording studio, um, called the letterbox and he learns the trade there and ultimately becomes inspired once he pairs up with his partner Dave gold to open up his own recording studio 1950. And what we're able to do is we're able to track not only the creative and the pioneering effects that they were able to do in both your equipment and the design of the studio, um, during the play, but we're also able to have go through the timeline of gold stars existence, which ended up being 33 and a third years. [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 03:43 you know, there were other famous recording studios like the Beatles Abbey Road in London, Sun Studio in Memphis where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash all got their start. Brian, why isn't Goldstar better known

Speaker 3: 03:57 by the public? Well, I think it's always been something that my father, his wish was to share his story. And that's what we're doing. Um, Goldstar is significant. Um, it, it helped move the music business from the east coast to the west coast. Part of the revolution with rock and roll and gold star was right in the middle of it. Um, because it's on the west coast, sometimes it's ignored on the east coast mean we had Jersey Boys. Great Story. Have you learned a lot about the east coast music scene? Um, our, our plan with our play is to be able to tell the west coast story, the west coast sound, the transition from, um, the music from the fifties all the way to the eighties and gold stars history is amazing from the aspect of how it created it's wall of sound. It productions with Phil Spector, which really did put gold star on the map. Right

Speaker 1: 04:48 now you can still visit Abbey Road in London. You can still visit sun studio. Does Gold Star still exist?

Speaker 3: 04:55 No. Gold Star. Um, the property was sold in 1984 and shortly thereafter Goldstar, the building itself caught fire. Um, it was going to be torn down in the future anyway for a strip mall unfortunately. But uh, at the corner of Santa Monica and vine, the gold gold star building burned down. Um, it's part of our play. We have [inaudible], we have real footage from K T la that we're able to show and um, the building itself was emptied already. Um, the property had been sold so there is no gold star anymore, but there was an employee at the time in the 50s now he's passed away now. That was very good friends with my father and Dave gold. And would you believe it? There's a replica gold star studio here in San Te called twin star. It's over and cool. Yamaka and prospect, Dave Golden. Stan Ross gave Lou Manta Zara, who is the owner at the time, the plans to build a studio, even though it was next to Gillespie filled and inside a metal building, didn't think it was going to work. They built a control room. Stan and Dave went down there, listened, could not hear the planes, heard, no interference says go for it. And so we are using that studio as a place for some of our interviews now with our guests are coming down from Los Angeles and other places to be able to come see our play. We are recreating the, the music business in Los Angeles here in San Diego.

Speaker 1: 06:26 Yeah. Brad, this is the story obviously of a pivotal time in popular music and gold star was in the center of so much of it. What do you want the audience to take away from

Speaker 3: 06:36 the musical? I want the audience to understand that the people that are supporting the major artists were very important. They may not have gotten the credits. Look at the wrecking crew, the wrecking crew musicians were there all the time at Goldstar recording multiple artists many times. They never ever got a credit. Um, my father was on a few credits for over the years, which is great, but ultimately Goldstar was right there to support these artists. And we share that information with a new generation, but we're also creating a, basically our play is at the soundtrack of Stan's life and, and really my life as well. So we enjoy that.

Speaker 1: 07:18 Let's go out with one of the most famous hits recorded at Goldstar Studio La Bomba

Speaker 2: 07:23 by Richard [inaudible],

Speaker 1: 07:43 the world premier musical 33 and a third house of dreams runs through August 25th at the San Diego Rep in Horton Plaza. And I've been speaking with Brad Ross and John Rosenberg, co creators of the musical. Thank you both so much. Thank you, mark.

Speaker 2: 07:59 Pleasure.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.