Cherokee Studios

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Cherokee Studios
FounderBruce Robb
Dee Robb
Joe Robb
Country of originUnited States
LocationLos Angeles, California

Cherokee Studios was a recording facility in Hollywood, founded in 1972 and closed in August 2007 to make way for a new building, after 35 years of operation under the Cherokee name as a well-renowned studio. Under the direction of a leading green developer, the site will become the Lofts @ Cherokee Studios[1] – a Green LEED Platinum Live/Work complex offering professional recording studios in select units designed by Cherokee owner, Bruce Robb.

In his autobiography, Beatles producer George Martin dubbed Cherokee Studios the best studio in America.

In the early seventies, the Robb Brothers founded the original Cherokee Studios, first located in the countryside at a ranch in Chatsworth, and then on Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood; the noted studio was owned and operated by the award-winning producer/engineers and brothers - Dee, Joe and Bruce Robb, who had started their careers as performers in the 1960s as a Midwest-based folk rock band called The Robbs. Their manager was Con Merten, they switched to record production, and by the mid-seventies, with albums such as Pretzel Logic and Station to Station the studio had made its name.

At the peak of its success, Cherokee housed five studios at the Fairfax location, and an additional three studios at a satellite location acquired on Beverly Drive (formerly Lion Share/ABC Dunhill Records).


The Robb family lived in Chatsworth with Del Shannon as a neighbor; the three brothers had a struggling band called "The Robbs". After a while their father, Dave, told them that if they did not get any more gigs they would have to get real jobs; when Shannon heard this he told them they should open a recording studio in their barn and loaned them money for the board.

After logging time in countless studios across the country as a band, The Robbs had become acquainted with just about every unwelcome situation typical of the life of a touring musician at the time. Together with their manager, Con Merten, they relocated to Los Angeles from the Chicago/Milwaukee area to focus more on producing and managing, rather than on performing, their ideas focused on making the studio a creative space designed for musicians and engineers.

As an independent recording studio, not owned by a record or film company, Cherokee was unusual in the U.S. at the time, though not unique - Jimi Hendrix' Electric Lady Studios, opened in 1970, had been constructed along similar ideas and was operated by itself, not by a major company.

Within the next couple of years, a fortuitous break presented itself when the MGM Records’ studio space in Fairfax came on the market; the new opportunity arrived not a moment too soon, for the brothers had been locked out of their studio barn after a Sheriff's bust for operating "an illegal home studio."[citation needed] Without hesitation, they made the purchase and commenced overhauling their new studio by hand with George Augspurger-designed acoustics, state-of-the-art equipment and, once more, attention to every musician-client detail; the Robbs and Merten, with their new Cherokee Studios, maintained their credo, and the clients described it as "the vibe" – an artist-friendly atmosphere that could be felt as soon as one walked in the door. Their first big hit there was Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic.

Cherokee closed its doors on Aug 31, 2007;[2] the last album recorded at Cherokee was Out of the Wilderness from Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise.

Coming Back[edit]

In late August 2011, the official website announced "New Studio Coming to Hollywood".

Prominent clients[edit]

Under MGM Records [3]

Acts that recorded at M.G.M. Recording Studios include: Count Basie,[4] Ella Fitzgerald,[5] Judy Garland,[6] Oscar Peterson, Lou Rawls, Elvis Presley[7] and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.[5]

Tom Petty[edit]

Petty recorded his third album Damn the Torpedoes and fourth Hard Promises at both Sound City Studios and Cherokee Studios respectively. During the recording of Hard Promises, John Lennon was scheduled to be in the recording the studio at the same time as Petty and the Heartbreakers. However, the meeting never occurred due to the untimely murder of Lennon in New York in December 1980. Both Damn the Torpedoes and Hard Promises were mixed at Cherokee Studios.[8]

David Bowie[edit]

With Cameron Crowe documenting the recording sessions for Rolling Stone, producer Harry Maslin and David Bowie came to Cherokee Studios in 1975 to record the platinum album Station to Station.

Mötley Crüe[edit]

Mötley Crüe recorded the platinum selling albums Theatre of Pain and Shout at the Devil at Cherokee Studios. Technicians working on Shout at the Devil noted that the members of Mötley Crüe would "stay up for three days straight making music and not even think we were working hard, with girls were streaming in and out of the studio."

Harry Nilsson[edit]

Harry Nilsson recorded his final album Flash Harry at Cherokee Studios between 1978 and 1980. Produced by Steve Cropper and engineered by Bruce Robb, the album has a very clean, soulful sound and features a who's-who of collaborators including Ringo Starr, Paul Stallworth, Eric Idle and Mac Rebennack.

Bonnie Raitt[edit]

While living in one of the West Hollywood apartment complexes directly behind Cherokee Studios, Bonnie Raitt would pick up backup singing recording gigs with music producers Bruce Robb and Steve Cropper.

Frank Sinatra[edit]

Frank Sinatra recorded the Sinatra Christmas Album at Cherokee in 1975.

Ringo Starr[edit]

While he was recording Stop and Smell the Roses at Cherokee Studios in 1980, Ringo Starr invited George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney to guest on the album; Paul McCartney and Harrison also produced some of the tracks. Starr had approached John Lennon to help out as well, had received two demos of songs which eventually wound up on the posthumous Lennon album Milk and Honey, and reportedly, Lennon had agreed to come to Los Angeles in January 1981 and take part in the recording; the album then would have been a modest Beatles reunion; the assassination of Lennon prevented those plans from coming to fruition. Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones also collaborated with Starr on the album at Cherokee, adding guitar, bass, saxophone, keyboards, and back-up vocals.

Weird Al Yankovic[edit]

Weird Al Yankovic recorded his first album at Cherokee in 1982; the album sold over 500,000 copies.

Warren Zevon[edit]

In 2002, a terminally ill Warren Zevon came to Cherokee Studios to record what would be his final album, The Wind. Nick Read filmed Zevon's final recordings at Cherokee for the documentary,Warren Zevon: Keep Me In Your Heart. Bruce Springsteen joined Zevon at Cherokee for the single "Disorder in the House," Cherokee owner Bruce Robb provided lead guitar on the first track of The Wind and support vocals on two other tracks.

Michael Jackson[edit]

Michael Jackson's 1979 album Off the Wall was recorded at Cherokee Studios; the album is among the best-selling albums of all time.

Other acts[edit]

Acts that have recorded at Cherokee Studios include:

Selected gear list[edit]

Studio 1
  • Custom Trident A-Range Mixing Console with 48 Channels
  • Universal Audio 1176 Limiting Amplifier- 2
  • DBX 160x
  • GML 8200
  • Pultec EQ P1-A
  • Pultec MEQ-1


  1. ^ "lofts at cherokee studios - Download Business Template".
  2. ^ "L.A.'s Cherokee Studios To Close at". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  3. ^ discogs - 555 albums connected with Cherokee Sound Studios
  4. ^ Count Basie/Big Joe Turner: The Bosses - Original Jazz Classics - OJC OJCCD821 - 025218682121 - H&B Recordings Direct[permanent dead link] at
  5. ^ a b Cole Porter / Ella Loves Cole at
  6. ^ Meet Me In St. Louis - 1944 at
  7. ^ Elvis Discography 1972 at
  8. ^ "Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers - Hard Promises". Discogs.

External links and References[edit]

Coordinates: 34°05′07″N 118°21′42″W / 34.0852403°N 118.3617293°W / 34.0852403; -118.3617293