Bill Halverson

Legendary Producer, Engineer, Arranger


(from Sound On Sound Magazine article by Richard Buskin August, 2010)

When space became available adjacent to Wally Heider’s studio, Heider considered acquiring it to replicate what was then the busiest facility in town: Studio 3 at Bill Putnam’s United Western Recorders.

“Wally and his carpenter, a guy named Hal Halverson — no relation to me — booked an hour of studio time at United Western 3, measured it and figured out it would fit into the space that was available,” Bill Halverson recalls. “So, that’s how Heider came to build his own Studio 3. He never did have a Studio 2; he actually had the balls to name it Studio 3. Then, in an effort to get Bones Howe — who had engineered so many hit records at United Western 3 — to move some of his business over to Heider Studio 3, Wally asked him, ‘What do I need to do to get you?’ Maybe that was a flip remark, but Bones said, ‘Well, I want 16 of those Universal Audio equalizers and 16 of those Universal Audio filters in the rack so I can run everything that way.’

“That’s what Heider did. He went out and bought Pultecs and Universal Audios with the 175B and 1176 limiters, doing whatever Bones wanted in order to get him over there. Then there was a 16-track Frank DiMedio-designed valve console comprised largely of Universal Audio components, together with an Ampex 300 two-inch tape machine that DiMedio had jury-rigged with Ampex 350 electronics. This was before we got the API board and 3M 16-track machines. The Ampex was 15ips, and I was one of the few guys who never went to 30ips because the bottom end at 15 was so fat that I became addicted to it.

“Although that studio was a little longer and a little narrower than Studio 3 at United Western, it was basically the same and it was a brilliant room. I didn’t actually know how good that room was until I left Heider’s and started recording in other rooms that weren’t nearly as forgiving.

“We’d usually put the drums and bass on the right side of the room and the guitars on the other side, and I did a live Tom Jones vocal in there and got away with it. I also cut [Cream’s] ‘Badge’ live in there with Felix Pappalardi’s piano, and again we got away with it, even with Marshall amps going full blast. It was just a very forgiving room.” (click audio link)

In March and October 1968, Bill Halverson part-engineered the final two albums of another supergroup, Cream’s Wheels Of Fire and Goodbye. “

On Goodbye, I really learned a lot about production working with Felix [Pappalardi]. The band members weren’t really talking to each other, they’d already broken up, but they’d been persuaded to record one last album, and so Felix spent a lot of time going to the Beverly Hills Hotel and dragging them one by one back to the studio. On one of the first days, Eric [Clapton] was in there, fooling around by himself, and SIR provided a prototype Leslie foot pedal for him to try out. It was basically a little box with a button on it, and you could plug a guitar into the back as well as a cable that went to a Leslie speaker, and then power up both the box and the speaker. The button made the Leslie go slow-speed or fast-speed, so you could go back and forth.

“After the roadies hooked it up, Eric just sat there for hours, playing his guitar through that Leslie — I wish I recorded that. He was having a ball with it, and then, after the other two guys showed up, [Beatles roadie] Mal Evans suddenly walked in with George Harrison. So, then Eric and George were out there, playing through the Leslie for hours, and after Felix also had me set up the piano in the back of the room, little by little ‘Badge’ started to come out of that. I still have a rough mix of the bass, drums and piano, as well as George’s rhythm guitar and Eric’s [flanged bridge figure on] guitar through the Leslie, without the vocals or lead guitar.”

These were recorded sometime in late November or early December by Damon Lyon-Shaw at IBC in London, where Clapton and Harrison wrote the lyrics, with the “swans that live in the park” line being contributed by, according to Harrison’s later recollection, an “absolutely plastered” Ringo Starr. (Harrison himself was credited on the record as “L’Angelo Misterioso”.)

“That was the first time I had ever heard a guitar through a Leslie,” Bill Halverson continues with regard to the Wally Heider session, “so I was sitting there, unable to believe what I was hearing.

“By the evening, we had this track, but the kicker to the story is that, after everybody had left and I was packing up, I noticed the pedal was gone. The next day, when the roadies came in, I asked where it was, saying that SIR wanted it back. Nobody knew where it had gone, and so I then had to call SIR and explain what had happened. Now fast-forward to a year later, when I was in England helping [Stephen] Stills to produce his first solo record, and who should walk through the door but Mal Evans and Ringo, who was going to play some drums. That night, we recorded a few songs, everybody had a good time, and after Ringo left, Mal drove me in his hot rod around London. While we were doing that, I said, ‘Mal, back during the ‘Badge’ session, do you have any idea what might have happened to the pedal?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, George wanted it, so I put it under my jacket and took it back to England.’ That may be how all of that Leslie guitar ended up on George’s solo records. I don’t know that for sure, but it seems too coincidental not to be the way it went down.”


During the Crosby/Nash album Ahmet Ertegun stopped by to hear our progress. After listening for a while, Graham suggested his girlfriend play Ahmet a couple of new songs she had been working on. I put a U-67 on her guitar and an SM-57 for vocal. Here is the un-mixed 2-Track.

"You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio"

(written by Joni Mitchell)

"For The Roses"
(written by Joni Mitchell)