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Sunset Sound Studios

Prince recorded regularly at Sunset Sound over a ten-year period between 1981 and 1991, having been introduced to the facility by his management firm, Robert Cavallo, Joseph Ruffalo and Steve Fargnoli. The studio was founded by Walt Disney executive Tutti Camarara in 1958, as a commercial space for hire to produce soundtracks for movies. A converted garage, Sunset Sound is located at 6650 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood and is comprised of three studios. Sunset Sound quickly became a staple of the LA recording scene, attracting bookings from many major bands it grew in notoriety throughout the 1960s and 70s. Its clients tended to favour particular a studio; The Rolling Stones opted for Studio 1; Michael Jackson, Rick James and Led Zeppelin preferred Studio, and; Prince always booked Studio 3, the preferred choice also for Fleetwood Mac and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Sunset Sound Studio 3
Sunset Sound Studio 3

Prince was most active at Sunset Sound between 1981 and 1987, spending much of the year here recording in long sessions that routinely began at mid-morning and continued right into the early hours of the next day, aided by Peggy “Mac” McCreary as his LA recording engineer of choice. An avid basketball player, Prince often took advantage of the hoop in the studio’s yard. Studio 3 is formed of five rooms – the largest, the performance space, is 38ft by 18ft and has a height of 12ft. Its adjoining control room is equipped with a Frank DeMedio custom API-550 console, this room is 21ft by 16ft and is 10ft high. There is a smaller piano room, 15ft by 9ft, as well as two similar sized vocal and isolation booths.

The first sessions Prince did here was for the Controversy album during August 1981. He recorded Private Joy here, as well as used the facility to mix the final touches into that album, and most of Prince’s extended versions of the period were mixed here also. Even once his Kiowa Trail home studio was operational Prince kept to this practice, mixing his subsequent albums 1999, Purple Rain and part of Around The World In A Day at Sunset Sound also. Key tracks recorded here include Moonbeam Levels in 1982 and 17 Days in 1983 – some of the outtakes from these sessions were later included in the Graffiti Bridge album of 1990. Another lonely Christmas and Manic Monday were also recorded at Sunset Sound, in 1984, as was Old Friends 4 Sale and much of the Parade album during April 1985. Prince continued to use the facility to lay down Camille and parts of Sign O’ The Times throughout 1986 and The Black Album in 1987, flitting between here and his new home studio at Galpin Blvd., Minnesota. Some of this material was later released in his Crystal Ball compilation in 1998.

It was at Sunset Sound Prince was introduced to Sheena Easton in January 1984, when he recorded Sugar Walls, and later U Got The Look in Studio 3 during December 1986. Prince’s various side-projects were also worked on at Sunset Sound; The Time, Sheila E, Vanity 6 and Apollonia 6. Prince stopped recording at Sunset Sound once Paisley Park Studios came on stream in 1987, however he returned in 2008 when living in LA for a brief spell, to record part of the LotusFlow3r album that summer.

Albums recorded at Sunset Sound

LotusFlow3r (2009)

LotusFlow3r

March 2009

Crystal Ball (1998)

Crystal Ball

March 1998

Graffiti Bridge (1990)

Graffiti Bridge

August 1990

Pandemonium (1990)

Pandemonium

July 1990

The Black Album (1987)

The Black Album

December 1987

Sign O’ The Times (1987)

Sign O’ The Times

March 1987

Sheila E (1987)

Sheila E

February 1987

Parade (1986)

Parade

March 1986

Romance 1600 (1985)

Romance 1600

August 1985

Around The World In A Day (1985)
Apollonia 6 (1984)

Apollonia 6

October 1984

Ice Cream Castle (1984)

Ice Cream Castle

July 1984

Purple Rain (1984)

Purple Rain

June 1984

The Glamorous Life (1984)

The Glamorous Life

June 1984

1999 (1982)

1999

October 1982

What Time Is It? (1982)

What Time Is It?

August 1982

Vanity 6 (1982)

Vanity 6

August 1982

Controvsersy (1981)

Controvsersy

October 1981

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