What do Yoko Ono's banshee wails, the Notorious BIG's lyrics about slanging crack and Bruce Springsteen's love for the United States have in common? Well, if you haven't gotten a chance to read the issue of Rolling Stone magazine, I'll tell you.
These are a few of the musical artists who recorded albums at the former music studio the Hit Factory in Manhattan. Rolling Stone reported that at the end of February this historical music studio was shutting its doors forever.
The Hit Factory had musical significance besides its famous/groundbreaking recordings. In 1980 one of the biggest and most tragic names in rock 'n' roll, John Lennon, spent his last night alive at the recording studio, mixing one of Yoko Ono's songs. And in 2000, thug rapper 50 Cent was stabbed in front of the Hit Factory.
According to the Hit Factory home page at www.harrisgrant.com, the studio was bought by Ed Germano in 1975 and then moved to its recent location. It was Germano who transformed the studio into the cutting-edge facility that it will be remembered as. Inside the building was 100,000 square feet of space with seven recording studios and five rehearsal suites. It was Germano's vision to cater the studio to every musician's whim.
According to mtv.com, Germano would even sometimes go out of his way by putting hay in the recording studio to make a country musician feel more at home. I know I feel more at home in a room full of straw, guitar twang in the background and my brother passed out in the corner.
From 1975 until last month, the Hit Factory lived up to its name. In 1994 the studio recorded, mastered or mixed 41 Grammy nominations, according to blogcritic.com. Big-name musicians from all music genres recorded there. Some of the notable albums produced at the Hit Factory include Stevie Wonder's 1976 album, "Songs in the Key of Life," the Notorious BIG's first album in 1994, "Ready to Die," and John Lennon's final record, "Double Fantasy" with his wife, Ono, in 1980. It was from these albums that I learned about the 'hood and how to get people out of my house after a party — by playing a CD with out-of-tune screaming moans coming from Yoko Ono.
In 2003 Germano died. His widow, Janice Germano, ran the studio until it was shut down. People in the music business attribute the studio shutting down to the advances in home-recording technology and lowered record-company budgets. But to many people this will be a studio that will be remembered for its niche in music history.
Janice Germano said in a publicly released statement: "The Hit Factory paved the way for how recording studios approached the artistic process of making music. In doing so, it forever changed the way artists thought about creating records and raised the art form to a new level of innovation."
I thought it would be important, because in this culture we are so preoccupied with the product and not so much the means of production, to say a small eulogy for the former music studio, which might have been forgotten otherwise. It probably won't sound as good as other rock 'n' roll eulogies like "Bye, Bye Miss American Pie," but hang in there.
So the next time people are gathered around with drinks in the air and no proper toast — drink one for the Hit Factory.