Record Plant Co-Founder Chris Stone Dies at 81
Chris Stone, a founding partner of the Record Plant recording studios, has died after suffering a heart attack and massive stroke. He passed away on Sept. 10 at age 81.
The original Record Plant was a 12-track, New York-based studio founded in 1968. Stone and his partner Gary Kellgren then opened Record Plant West, a 16-track facility, in Los Angeles in 1969. A third studio followed three years later in Sausalito, Calif. In 1970, the L.A. space became one of the first to offer a 24-track recorder; it also memorably installed a Jacuzzi for use by the artists. That led to extended residencies at the homey Record Plant studios, which Stone once referred to as "the artist’s living room."
Born in San Francisco in 1935, the business-savvy Stone was working in marketing at Revlon when he first met Kellgren, an engineering whiz. They started the first Record Plant on West 44th Street in New York City with a $100,000 investment. Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland was their first album. Later, the Eagles' Hotel California and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours were completed at Record Plant facilities.
Other notable recordings: John Lennon's last jam session with Paul McCartney took place at Record Plant West, and Prince made his debut album while holed up in Sausalito. Over the years, artists ranging from Motley Crue, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Guns N' Roses to Chicago, Heart and many others recorded there.
"The thing that we found out early in our corporate lives was that prestige was very important," Stone said in a 1978 interview. "We became kind of the innovative leader, as a marketing philosophy, and decided early on that the only business we were really after was the top of the line. We have consistently averaged, over the years, between 10 and 15 percent of the top 100 albums having been recorded in our studios."
Stone sold the facilities to former Beatles producer George Martin and Chrysalis Records in 1989; the Record Plant continues today under new management. Later, Stone co-founded the Society of Professional Audio Recording Services, and served as its former president and chairman. He became a reorganization consultant for Motown Records after selling the Record Plant.
Stone was also involved with a number of live events, including George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh, was a published author and served on the faculty of the University of Southern California. Stone was inducted in the NAMM TEC Awards Hall of Fame earlier this year. He is survived by wife Gloria, son Matt, daughter Samantha and three grandchildren.
Rockers We’ve Lost in 2016