This beautiful United Sound building, on Second Avenue at Antoinette, became Detroit's first major recording studio in 1933. Number 5840 had been a residence prior to it's procurement by Jimmy Siracuse and Bernie Besman.
My friend John Neff from Northern California answered a question for me the other day so perfectly that I just had to share it with my readers. Every knows the vast history of Berry Gordy's Motown Recording at Hitsville. Yet there is another legendary Recording studio called United Sound which began it's long history way before Gordy and in fact Gordy got his start at United. So I hope you enjoy a sneak peek inside United Sound with John.... Thanks JN!! xxooK
Over the year's it has seen tons famous artists pass through it's doors, including John Lee Hooker, Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin and The Mighty MC5.
From John Neff:
United Sound Systems was on 2nd Ave. near Cass, near Wayne State University, in Detroit. I was the 'Blue Eyed Soul Brother' in 'The Company', the house rhythm section, that played on everybody's records.
Don Davis had been the lead Producer at Motown, in the Golden Era, and eventually learned that he was never going to see a dime from Berry Gordy. So he quit, got backing, and bought the biggest studio in Detroit. He duplicated the Funk Brothers with a section that played on all the house-produced records.
In the Fall of 1970, I became the staff guitarist. I had been working with Alan Ryles, a drummer from Pontiac who became the staff drummer, and he told them about me. I got invited to a session, and played on some record whose title I can't remember, alongside the session guitarist of the time.
Don told the engineer to use my track and invited me back the next day. The other guitarist threw a fit, but I never saw him again. I had had a white boy blues band in Detroit called The Electric Blues Band, and we got signed to Elektra after the 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival, at which we played, alongside the MC5 and Junior Wells and Buddy Guy.
One of the MC5 Hill St Houses
Jac Holzman from Elektra was there to see the MC5 and signed us, as we were friends of them and stayed at the Hill Street House a lot.
Brother Wayne (Kramer) was very instrumental (so to speak) in this. So until early 1974, I played guitar and synth (very early-very crude) on hundreds on soul records produced at United Sound.
Detroit, of course, has a storied history of magic happening. From John Lee Hooker’s after-hours recordings at United Sound in the ’50s and the sounds pumping out of the factory that was Hitsville USA in the ’60s to the racket rising from basements, backrooms and converted spaces in the ’80s and ’90s where producers, soundmen and engineers cut their chops making records for would-be next generation stars. Laying Down Sound in Detroit
Legendary Detroit Studio is Resurrected Read More on RK
Guest Post by John Neff