Sound City Studios Owner Tom Skeeter Dies
As Skeeter told Mix in 2009, he took over the studio in 1970 as part of a holding company that had purchased the building from its previous owners. Jokingly explaining that the new owners “were looking to put some Hollywood glitz” into the nondescript building, he recalled their first and most fateful decision: the installation of a Neve recording console that was, at the time, state of the art. “Keith Olsen, who was our staff engineer, picked it and helped customize it,” he recalled. “That turned out to be the smartest thing we ever did … Rupert Neve said it was probably the only console of that vintage that’s been in the same spot since it was manufactured.”
Grohl purchased the console after Sound City ceased commercial operations in 2011, but by that time, the studio had long since earned its legendary status. Throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, it played host to a long list of superstar artists, including Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young and Metallica — as well as Nirvana, who tracked their smash breakthrough LP ‘Nevermind’ there, starting Grohl’s long love affair with the studio and its iconic all-analog gear.
“I always had a strong connection to that studio because Nirvana wasn’t meant to be the biggest band in the world,” Grohl told Rolling Stone. “So when we went there for 16 days, we weren’t making that album with the intention that we were going to change the f—in’ world. We just wanted it to sound good … The fact that what happened actually, happened, makes me think there’s something a more than just wires and knobs in that place. Personally, I have a strong emotional connection to it.”
Skeeter also made the jump into rock management, most notably helping shepherd Rick Springfield‘s early-’80s ascension. Springfield shared his gratitude in a statement to Billboard, saying, “Tom was a southern gentleman who, along with Joe Gottfried took me under their collective wing at Sound City in 1976 and allowed me the freedom to write and record at their magic studio. Tom was one of the good guys.”
Skeeter’s cause of death has not been confirmed, but the Sound City Facebook page offered a warm tribute to a long life and distinguished career, writing, “We lost our main man, Tommy Skeeter this week. Grateful to our Sound City Movie pals for introducing him to all of you. Thank you to all of the people who have stopped by the office to meet Tom in the past few years — he enjoyed the visits, and loved hearing how far people had come.”