Located in New York’s Greenwich Village, the building was once a supper club owned by Rudy Vallée. When Jimi Hendrix bought it in 1968, he wanted to turn it into a nightclub until Eddie Kramer, Hendrix’s engineer, forced him to look at the numbers. “He was spending thousands of dollars to block out time at other studios just to jam,” Kramer says. “I told him that a studio was the way to go.” Hendrix poured more than $1 million into Electric Lady and in May 1970 began to use the facility to practice (he often recorded at the Record Plant in New York, though there are hours of unreleased material at Electric Lady). Being owned and operated by a musician, the studio’s creature comforts included plush lounges and psychedelically painted walls. Electric Lady officially opened for business on August 27th, 1970. But Hendrix died less than a month later, on September 18th, in London. “I was so happy at the start of the day — I had just gotten my green card,” says Kramer, a native of South Africa. “Then I got to the studio, and everyone was crying. I just went blank.”
Not surprisingly, the complex is something of a shrine. Studio A remains exactly as it was during Hendrix’s time, and Studio B (nicknamed Purple Haze) has the world’s only purple mixing console. Not to mention the ghosts in residence. “The Clash swore that Jimi put an extra guitar track on Sandinista!,” says Mary Campbell, the studio’s manager from 1983-2003. “Doors slam, floors creak. The place has a magic.”
This story is from the December 11th, 2003 issue of Rolling Stone.