EastWest Studios is one of the world’s premier recording complexes with an amazing history. The facility is located right in the heart of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard and has been home to some of the most celebrated artists of the last several decades, including Frank Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Mayer, Travis Scott, Kid Cudi, and dozens more. Not surprisingly, EastWest has produced more GRAMMY-winning albums than any other studio in the world, with nominations totaling over 120.
Now, this renowned studio complex is fully immersed in the 21st century without forgetting its incredibly historic past. EastWest Sounds producer Doug Rogers acquired the property in 2006 and hired internationally renowned designer Philippe Starck to renovate the space.
The idea was to take the most historic recording studios in the world and transform them to meet the demands of contemporary artists and producers recording in a new era. Of course, the key was in preserving the magic of the live rooms, as originally built by the legendary Bill Putnam in 1961. Formerly known as Western Recorders, the facility was officially reopened as EastWest in 2009.
Today, EastWest Studios are a “place where artists can meet, mingle, and be inspired, while at the same time shaping the way music is heard for generations to come.”
EastWest’s history dates back as far as the 1930s.
The recording studios have a legacy spanning 87 years, when the building was originally constructed as a “Cash Is King” grocery store in 1933. At the time, Cash Is King was the largest supermarket on the west coast which survived the Great Depression until it was converted into a casino in 1942.
When it became Madam Zucca’s Hollywood Casino, it provided entertainment for US soldiers during World War II with burlesque shows and not quite legal gambling. It stayed a casino for almost a decade, changing its name twice—once to Cotton Club and once more to French Casino. This was an attempt to find loopholes in the newest liquor and gaming laws which otherwise would have closed the place down.
The first iteration of using the building as a studio was in 1950 for radio broadcast.
When the casino closed its doors after 8 years, the property was converted into a radio broadcast center. It was originally called West Coast Productions, and the main stage was where EastWest Studio 1 stands today. West Coast Productions produced popular radio shows like the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, and in 1954 the name changed to Radio Center Theatre.
In 1957, Don Blake purchased the building and renamed it once more as Western Recorders. It was only a few years before Blake sold Western Recorders to Frank Sinatra’s personal engineer…
The legendary Bill Putnam transformed Western Recorders into the studio complex it is today.
By 1960, Bill Putnam was already known as one of the titans of the recording industry. He invented the modern day recording console and had previously founded Universal Audio and UREI which has produced some of the most used audio equipment of all time, like the 1176 and LA-2A compressors. He is often referred to as the “father of modern recording.”
At the time he acquired Western Recorders, Putnam had already owned a successful studio in Chicago called Universal Recording as well. His close clients Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby supported Putnam’s move to California, which was all part of his dream to create the largest studio complex in LA.
He first bought United Studios at 6050 Sunset Boulevard, then purchased Western Recorders at 6000 Sunset in 1961. He merged the two businesses under the name United Western Recorders.
As soon as the studio opened under Putnam’s ownership, United Western Recorders produced some of the biggest hits in 1960s pop music. Frank Sinatra recorded what is considered some of his greatest work in Studio 1, including “My Way”, “The Summer Wind,” “That’s Life,” and the duet with his daughter Nancy Sinatra “Somethin’ Stupid.”
Other smashes of the era recorded in Studio 1 were the original Mission Impossible theme, Elvis Presley’s 1968 Comeback Special, Roger Williams’ “Born Free,” and Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?”.
During this time Studio 2 produced some of the most recognizable work of American television, including the themes to The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Hawaii Five-O.
Studio 3 was where the sound of the ’60s was born.
The Beach Boys recorded their masterpiece Pet Sounds and some of their greatest hits, including “California Girls,” “Good Vibrations,” and “God Only Knows” in Studio 3 at United Western.
It was also this room where The Mamas & The Papas recorded their biggest songs ever: “California Dreaming,” “Monday, Monday,” and “Dancing in the Street.” These iconic sounds defined an entire generation of music for which you could say Bill Putnam is responsible!
United Western Recorders continued its success throughout the ’70s with hits by Barbara Streisand, more classic work by Frank Sinatra, and theme songs to The Godfather and M.A.S.H. The interior of the facility also provided a backdrop for multiple scenes in the original production of A Star is Born.
Bill Putnam sold United Western Recorders to engineer Allen Sides in 1985.
In the early ’80s, however, the studios success hadn’t slowed a bit. Recordings for Michael Jackson’s Thriller album were done in Studio 1 before Putnam let the studio go in 1985.
It took some persuading to convince Frank Sinatra to let go of his shares in the company, but once he did, Allen Sides renamed both studios Ocean Way Recording.
Despite this change of ownership, the studio complex had already cemented its legacy as the world’s premier recording facility during its last two and half decades of success.
As Ocean Way Recording, both Madonna’s Like A Prayer and U2’s Rattle and Hum were recorded in Studio 1. Studio 2 then became home to Elvis Costello for Spike and The Red Hot Chili Peppers on Mother’s Milk. The Red Hot Chili Peppers would revisit this room many more times in the future, producing more hit albums.
Notable clients in the ’90s included Tool, The Rolling Stones, and Whitney Houston, amongst others. Ocean Way Studio 2 also become the go-to spot for rock music, hosting Iggy Pop, Slayer, Tom Petty, Incubus, AC/DC, Elton John, Blink 182, Greenday, Weezer, and the return of The Red Hot Chili Peppers for their hit album Californication.
In 1999, Ocean Way Recording changed hands once more and was renamed Cello Studios.
During the Cello years which lasted from 1999 to 2005, the studios played host to a range of successful hard rock bands. Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Audioslave, Jimmy Eat World, and Sum 41 made much of their most renowned work during this period in Studio 2. The room also became a favorite of legendary producer Rick Rubin.
The Mars Volta and Muse recorded their early work in Studio 3, with these projects being mixed in Studio 5.
In 2005, Cello Studios shut down. At this point, the studios—which were home to over 50 years of the greatest music ever produced—were in danger of permanent closure.
Current owner Doug Rogers purchased the complex at the final hour, saving the historic site from demolition. Rogers also came up with the studio’s modern name, EastWest. As part of the studio’s renovation, Rogers hired famed designer Phillippe Starck to remodel the lobby, kitchen, and artist lounges to bring the facility into the 21st century, all while preserving the historic look and sound of the recording rooms. In 2009, EastWest Studios opened its door for business.
For over 50 years, we have been making music history, turning out more Grammy-nominated recordings than any other studio in the world. Our goal remains to provide artists with the utmost in service, the best in new and vintage technologies, and an unparalleled creative environment.
All images courtesy of EastWest Studios. Text adapted from EastWest Studios’ History.