Sonic Architect Cosimo Matassa Passes Away at 88
Cosimo Matassa, the studio owner and engineer whose Cosimo Recording Studio played host to some of the most important recordings of the early rock era, has passed away at the age of 88.
Matassa got his start in 1945, when he took over the back area of his family's market on Rampart Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans and used it to build J&M Recording Studio. Only 18 at the time, Matassa did well enough to migrate into a larger space 10 years later, opening his Cosimo Recording Studio at 525 Governor Nicholls Street. Frequently working alongside producers Dave Bartholomew and Allen Toussaint, he helped shape the emerging "New Orleans Sound," using heavy percussion, guitars, and piano backed with brass arrangements to help define early hits by the likes of Fats Domino, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Dr. John and many, many more.
"I always tried to capture the dynamics of a live performance," he explained in a 2012 interview conducted to commemorate his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "These guys were doing these songs on their gigs and that was the sound that I was trying to get. We didn't have any gimmicks -- no overdubbing, no reverb -- nothing. Those guys played with a lot of excitement, and I felt if I couldn't put it in the groove, people weren't going to move."
After a 30-year career that included more than 20 gold records (including such future rock standards as 'Tutti Frutti,' 'Shake, Rattle and Roll,' 'I Hear You Knockin'' and 'Land of 1,000 Dances'), Matassa retired from the music business in the '80s, focusing his energies on running the family marketplace where he'd gotten his start decades before. A widower following the death of his wife Jennie in 2009, he is survived by his sons John, Louis and Michael, as well as seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
For more information regarding Cosimo Matassa and his extraordinary career, we highly recommend visiting the Cosimo Code website.