In 1968, Jimi Hendrix and his manager Michael Jeffery bought a newly defunct nightclub called The Generation located at 52 W 8th Street in New York’s Greenwich Village — a venue that Hendrix had frequented for impromptu performances and late-night jam sessions. The Generation had been known for live acts as diverse and legendary as Big Brother & the Holding Company, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Dave Van Ronk, and Sly & the Family Stone. Instead of renaming the club and continuing with the live venue business model (Jimi’s original vision for the project), advisors Eddie Kramer and Jim Marron convinced Hendrix to convert the space into a professional recording studio. Architect, John Storyk, designed each structural detail, and from there the origins of New York’s famed Electric Lady was born. It would be the only artist-owned recording studio in existence at the time.
On August 26th, 1970, Hendrix hosted the grand opening of his psychedelic studio lair to fellow musicians and friends. Guests included Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, and Patti Smith.
“I put on my straw hat and walked downtown, but when I got there, I couldn’t bring myself to go in,” recalls Patti Smith in her award winning memoir, Just Kids. “By chance, Jimi Hendrix came up the stairs and found me sitting there like some hick wallflower and grinned.
“He spent a little time with me on the stairs and told me his vision of what he wanted to do with the studio. He dreamed of amassing musicians from all over the world in Woodstock and they would sit in a field in a circle and play and play. It didn’t matter what key or tempo or what melody, they would keep on playing through their discordance until they found a common language. Eventually they would record this abstract universal language of music in his new studio.
“’The language of peace. You dig?’ I did.”
Today, Electric Lady Studios is made famous by Jimi Hendrix and classic 70s sessions with The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and Patti Smith, among others, and maintains its reputation as the most hallowed grounds for recorded music. It is the oldest working and thriving recording studio in New York City.
Recent projects include: Bleachers, Frank Ocean, St. Vincent, Adele, Japanese Breakfast, Jon Batiste, Clairo, Taylor Swift, and Lorde.