At United, we have a history like no other studio. It’s a living, breathing thing which is still being made…
6050 Sunset Boulevard is a truly iconic address. What lies behind its striking facade has given rise to some of music history’s most treasured recordings and, although the building itself pre-dates Bill Putnam’s involvement, the history of one of the greatest recording studios of all time does not.
It’s safe to say that, without Bill Putnam, the landscape of today’s recording world would look very different. He founded major recording studios in Chicago, Hollywood and San Francisco and as a pioneer of modern recording techniques he was the first person in the US to use artificial reverberation (creating echo chambers that are still very much in use here today) as well as the first US multi-band audio equalizer. As the creator of Universal Audio and UREI (United Recording Electronics Industries) he developed some of the most noteworthy, classic recording equipment ever built,
Bill Putnam was the father of recording as we know it today. The processes and designs which we take for granted–the design of modern recording desks, the way components are laid out and the way they function, console design, cue sends, multitrack switching–they all originated in Bill's imagination. – Bruce Swedien
including the UREI 1176LN, the UREI Time Align Monitor and the famed Universal Recording consoles which were bought by major recording studios across the country.
In 1946, Putnam founded Universal Recording, one of America's first independent recording studios, in Chicago – and it didn’t take him long to carve out his reputation as a recording engineer. Working with artists such as Patti Page, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, Putnam soon became one of the most sought-after engineer-producers in the United States. The overwhelming success of Universal Recording led to clients such as Quincy Jones, Nelson Riddle and Mitch Miller urging Putnam to open a facility on the West Coast. In 1957, with the backing of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, he did just that and United Recording Corp. was born at 6050 Sunset Boulevard.
The overwhelming success of Universal Recording led to clients such as Quincy Jones, Nelson Riddle and Mitch Miller urging Putnam to open a facility on the West Coast. In 1957, with the backing of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, he did just that and United Recording Corp. was born at 6050 Sunset Boulevard.
Putnam incorporated many technological innovations into the new complex but above all he realized the importance of the natural ambience created by a real recording space. Nowhere is his pursuit for the perfect sounding rooms exemplified more clearly than in United Recording’s Studios A and B.
Assembling a team of A-level staff, including the legendary Bones Howe, Lee Herschberg and Wally Heider the years to come would see United Recording play host to the absolute who’s who of music. Aside from Sinatra and Crosby, the 50’s saw the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Ricky Nelson and Count Basie record classics at United. The 60’s and 70’s would see The Rat Pack making regular appearances, Ray Charles record his breakthrough “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music”, The Righteous Brothers, Johnny Mathis, The Ronettes, James Brown, Liza Minelli, The Everly Brothers, Crosby Stills and Nash and Nancy Sinatra (who’s iconic “These Boots Were Made for Walking” was recorded in studio B) - the list was endless! But as Putnam’s health began to fail in the early 80’s it was the turn of his friend and business partner, Allen Sides, to take the reins at United.
Sides, who had previously leased Studio B and, later, Studio A, eventually talked Putnam into selling him the whole building in 1985 and the studio was renamed Ocean Way. Albums recorded at the studio sold millions upon millions of copies from artists such as Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Chick Corea, Bonnie Raitt,
Joni Mitchell, Rush, Luis Miguel and countless others. Sides, a renowned recording engineer, continued to buy out studios over his 35 plus years as the studio owner – work he originally started with Putnam - and in this time he amassed an incredible collection of vintage tube microphones and other vintage studio gear, most of which still resides at the studio today.
... and back to United
In 2013, Hudson Pacific Properties acquired the studio with the intention of continuing its great legacy. The highly qualified staff remains in place and the studios themselves remain untouched. Aside from upgrades to the lounges and common spaces, we remain true to Putnam’s original vision and continue the pursuit of audio excellence. United Recording is a place where History continues to be made.