Category Archives: Studios

1968 THE MYSTIC NUMBER NATIONAL BANK

Kansas Hall of Fame Honorees

Bob Sebbo, Dave Lorenz, Glenn Walters, Russ Booth.
In the Jenkins Music booth at some exhibition in Kansas City Kansas, August, 1968

These guys were the band “most likely to succeed” in Kansas City in 1968. They had not yet had their disastrous NY trip to record their Command/ABC record. This band played opposite my band “The Smokin’ Emeralds at the Place in Westport for over a year. We played the ‘straight’ side of the venue 6 nights a week, while they would play on the psychedelic side. This was further complicated by the fact that durmmer Glenn Walters played in both bands at the same time. I finally convinced them to record at my studio Audio Lab in Prairie Village, Kansas.
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1967: Vic Damon’s Studio

Photo by R. G. Barncard 1967 –

STEVE MILLER SESSION PHOTO GALLERY

The legendary Vic Damon. Here is his incredibly odd layout with the speakers in the ceiling. The right channel is just above the camera position. The left channel is just before Vic. The lathes are in front of the window, the mixer knobs are before him. Somewhere between his two lathes was a small fishbowl with his pet turtle in it, which he talked about incessantly. We thought he was crazy.

He hated rock music and would hypercompress the shit out of it without asking, and we customers were so meek we were happy to walk away with a 45. A major reason to build my own studio, but I could never cut 45s and always had to go back to him.

Vic made a huge amount of money in the early 50’s and built this studio. Ampex collectors would DROOL over the model MR-70s, some say the best machine that Ampex ever made, way before the more economical AG-440. He had two 2-track and two 4-track machines, all MR-70. All mics were U-67s on Starbird stands. He had the shit, but he didn’t care about anything but “old people’s” music (in our opinion). I ended up disliking his attitude and vowed never to treat clients like he did.

The worst part is that his little kingdom was built for one man to run by himself. He had no interns, no helpers, and heeded no other option about the best way to do things.  Since this was the only ‘pro’ studio I had ever known, I tried to make my studio at home to be like his – except the stupid speakers in the ceiling – I could never bring myself to do that. We used to make fun of  his idiosyncrasies behind his back.  I emulated his layout: I had a stand-up mixer in my place, no console, and my machines up on some kind of platform.

Barncard’s Audio Lab – like a ‘little Damon Studio’

Vic Damon holding a 16″ instantaneous-cut disc and standing next to the studio’s record cutting lathes.

Sondra Steele, Vic Damon, Jon Steele listening to the Steele’s hit record My Happiness, recorded and released by Damon’s studio, [c.1948]   Note that this photo features a turnable board that is the same exact unit that’s parked in his studio in the second photo of this series – 20 years later.

Vic Damon (right) and unidentified man driving the “Sound Bug,” a novelty car with sound system advertising Damon Recording Studios; street scene appears to be a parade, heading south from 11th Street on Grand Avenue, Kansas City . This photo was also published in Howard Tremain’s reference work The Audio Cyclopedia (not to be confused with The New Audio Cyclopedia.)

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
A native of Bucyrus, Ohio, Vic Damon attended the Missouri Military Academy and worked as teller for Traders National Bank before embarking on a career in the recording industry. A pioneer in recording science, Damon founded Damon Transcription Laboratory in Kansas City in 1933, operating out of the Midland Building at 1221 Baltimore. Later, as Damon Recording Studios, his studio moved to 117 W. 14th Street where Damon continued providing recording services until his retirement in 1973.

Damon was also an engineer for Kansas City radio station WHB.

During his long career, Damon recorded such local notables as Tommy Douglas, Julia Lee, the Scamps, Jay McShann and Marilyn Maye. The Blue Things, a popular folk-rock group based in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded early demos at Damon’s studio under the name The Blue Boys before landing a deal with RCA in the mid-1960s.

Capitol and Decca record companies frequently engaged Damon’s services as a recording engineer. Damon’s studio also provided recording services for advertising agencies, church groups and civic organizations.
One of Damon’s greatest commercial successes was My Happiness, recorded at his studio December 10, 1947, by Jon and Sondra Steele. In 1948 My Happiness sold over a million copies of sheet music and won a Cashbox award for “Best Record of the Year.” Composed by Borney Bergantine with lyrics by Betty Peterson (Mrs. Lou Blasco), My Happiness was subsequently recorded by hundreds of artists including Elvis Presley’s first recorded effort rendered for his mother. Victor L. Damon died February 20, 1974 at age 73.

1999: A Quest for a Gates Console

THe Highway to Wichita Falls.

The freeway between Dallas and northern Texas has no towns of any size to drive though along the way, only giant truck-friendly gas-food stops, with porn shops across the lot in the same complex. No trees or foliage of any kind except sagebrush and dust devils that break up the totally flat landscape with few other distinguishing features. For 5 hours, I drove through this bleak landscape on my way to Wichita Falls. TX.

That gives me a lot of time to think about why the hell am I in the middle of Texas with a 12 hour turnaround chasing after a silly old broadcast console.

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