The Creative Impact of the Built Environment

The Creative Impact of the Built Environment Dear Readers/Viewers,

You gave a tremendous reaction to the post on Constraints and Creativity the other week.  This prompted me to gather some more material on the topic.  This time, we look at the impact of the built environment and creativity, via a conversation I had with Bernie Torme, guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, GMT and Ian Gillan. The history of rock’n'roll is littered with examples of brilliance emerging from rather shabby recording environments.

Bernie gives us a bird’s eye tour:

“When I visited Sun studios in Memphis I was astonished.  It’s just a shop basically, that produced some of the greatest sounding and culture changing records ever made.  The same is true of Chess in Chicago, Stax, Motown in Detroit, scruffy shopfloors.   Editor’s note:  Here is one of the products of those scruffy shop floors:

I would also have said the same about Kingsway (earlier called the original De Lane Lea) where House of the Rising Sun was recorded, and virtually all of Hendrix’s early output up to Wind Cries Mary. All the Gillan stuff and lots more. It was a complete claustrophobic dump.

And IBC in Portland Place where all of the early Who stuff was recorded.  All of those places sounded wonderful with a decent engineer.  And as for Regent Sound, where all those initial Stones hits were made, an absolutely horrific place.”

Encouraging Bernie to continue, I asked him “So what happened later on?”

Bernie remembers these environments:

“I remember lots of grandiosely stunning studios from the 80′s.   The ones in the 70′s were far more workmanlike, like garages.  Funny what happened in the 80′s.  Part of a bubble I suppose, like all the other bubbles.  It was more about attracting “clients” with the bells and whistles rather than a decent sounding room and an engineer who knew how to use it.  Hence all those electronica records. I must admit to never liking places like The Townhouse etc.  I did a bit there and lots in the old Marquee studios, lots of glass,  marble, stone and polished steel.  Both looked great and sounded like complete shit. I am ranting…….”

Ranting aside, I think Bernie has spotted a very transferable point for innovators here, that having it all does not necessarily lead to great results.  Sometimes desperate conditions produce greatness.

Bernie  offers exclusive guitar lessons in his barn studio in the garden of England, plus opportunities to stop over at his holiday cottage and record your dream record.  Contact me for further details.

image credit:

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Peter Cook is Rock’n'Roll Innovation Editor at Innovation Excellence.  He leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock, and provides Keynote speaking, Organisation Development and Business Coaching. and  You can follow him on twitter @Academyofrock

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