Australian recording studios. This is the important one, at least the birth of the important one. This one’s especially close to my heart because I’m writing Bill Armstrong’s biography. My idea, not his.

After building and operating studios for others Bill finally decided to create his own. In 1965 he found a small terrace house in Albert Road, South Melbourne. The front room was the office, the next the room where performances took place. The kitchen had become the control room. Not only did Bill open his doors to the music of the day he gave opportunities to a generation of young producers and engineers. Bill concentrated on giving them the best equipment he couldn’t (!) afford. He brought the first four track recording machine into the country. Armstrong’s, and therefore Australian music was state of the art.

Bill also had the wisdom to realize the lifeblood of the studio could not be pop music alone. He also opened his doors to advertising. One terrace house one by one became six, side by side. Illegally wired together. There were in-house musicians, backing singers, arrangers. This was as close to Australia’s “Motown” as we ever came. It’s where Johnny Farnham, the Masters Apprentices, The Twilights and many more recorded the best of Australia’s pop music of the mid-sixties and early seventies. It’s were Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum famously produced Russell Morris’ innovative ‘The Real Thing’, at the time the most expensive Australian single of all time, so expensive EMI arrived to pull the plug, sending Meldrum grabbing the tape and hiding in the bushes across the road.

Eventually, Armstrong Studios outgrew the maze of wiring. It was time to find larger premises. The studio moved to a former butter factory in Bank Street South Melbourne, a world standard facility.

Having outgrown his labyrinth of six terrace houses, in 1972 Bill Armstrong bought an old butter factory for his recording complex. This time he was able to build his studio from the ground up, everything anyone wanted or needed. He brought with him the team who’d served their apprenticeships at the old studio - Ern Rose the builder’s son who arrived at Bill Armstrong’s door looking for work, found out what Bill did and stayed - Roger Savage who had come from England and put Australian recording in the map - many others. Bill provided them with everything they needed to make the best music possible. Armstrong’s was a world standard facility, You’d walk down the corridors and there was always something exciting happening.

Little River Band recorded all their internationally successful music there. Cat Stevens recorded there. Mick Jagger rehearsed his solo band there. Bands like Nick Cave’s Birthday Party were allowed to take up some of the studio time slack. Rather than home, their producer Tony Cohen slept in the air conditioning duct. There was even a studio ghost who occasionally operated the faders when no-one was watching.

The music industry changed. There were other demands on the building. The recording studio shrank down to the basement space, now called Metropolis and owned and operated by Erni Rose. Then that went too, and Armstrong’s ghost was left alone with the ghost of some of the most successful and historic recordings ever made in this country,

I don’t want to be Melbourne-centric here, so I WILL move on to Sydney studios – in a couple of days. Don’t want to get stuck in this time machine.

By Ed Nimmervoll (February 2013)
Source Link: Ed Nimmervoll's 'Me & Music' Blog -

Parent Category Page Links: Recording Studios - Australia

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