Five of Marin’s Top Musical History Sites You Might Not Have Known About

The Record Plant, 2200 Bridgeway, Sausalito

Few locations in Marin holds as much musical significance and lasting reach than what had been known as the Record Plant recording studio located at 2200 Bridgeway in Sausalito. From the studio’s first recordings of Sly and The Family Stone in 1972 to the last by the Fray in 2009, this nearly 50-year-old site holds the recording credit on dozens of notable records including five of the top 50 best-selling albums of all-time. It was here Prince recorded his first album, Stevie Wonder tracked much of Songs in The Key of Life, and Fleetwood Mac recorded the wildly successful Rumors album in 1976. The studio was created as a retreat and some artists took full advantage of the loose vibe. Rick James recorded “Super Freak” while living in the conference room during the early 1980’s and Bay Area rockers Metallica had the ceiling of Studio B raised to 30 feet to create a bigger drum sound for their albums Load and Reload in the mid-‘90’s. Currently, efforts are in the works to purchase and preserve the historic studio, which looks much as it did when it first “officially” opened in 1972.

Rancho Olompali (Olompali State Park)

“The Summer of Love began one after- noon at Olompali.” – Ken Kesey, Merry Prankster

One of the most musically significant sites in Marin County for a number of reasons. The Grateful Dead’s stay at Rancho Olompali (3 miles north of Novato) in 1966 was the seed for the summer of love in San Francisco the following year. During a stay at the Burdell Mansion located on the sprawling grounds in April and May of 1966, the Grateful Dead used the property as a communal place to hang, eat, swim in the pool and play music. The Dead’s stay at Olompali culminated with a show on May 22, 1966 featuring members of The Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Charlatans and others who won’t recall being there. The Grateful Dead moved off the grounds to the infamous house at 710 Haight Street in San Francisco by the end of June, 1966. The next summer, the whole country would be aware of the scene growing from those few weeks at Rancho Olompali in Novato in ’66. The Dead and friends would return to the Olompali grounds over the years, most notably for a performance in 1968 and a photo shoot for the back cover of their Aoxomoxa album in 1969.

Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Festival, Mt. Tamalpais, Mill Valley

Marin County’s Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Festival was first held at the top of Mt. Tamalpais on June 10–11, 1967. The two-day event featured more than two-dozen bands performing on two stages and took place one week prior to the more publicized (and filmed) Monterey Pop Festival. The weekend was highlighted by performances from Jefferson Airplane, Steve Miller Band, The 5th Dimension, Wilson Pickett and The Doors.

(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, Waldo Point Houseboats, Sausalito

A number of songs have been written in and about Marin. From Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit,’ written in the living room of Grace Slick’s Larkspur home, to Steve Miller’s ‘Fly Like an Eagle’ album written at his home in Novato, Marin has always been a source of musical inspiration. Perhaps the most notable of these is Otis Redding’s, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”

In August of 1967 after performing shows in San Francisco, Otis Redding spent some time across the bay in Sausalito. Redding stayed on a houseboat off Waldo Point where he wrote the beginning to what would become one of the most recognizable tunes in R&B history. Co-written and produced by guitarist Steve Cropper, Redding recorded the song on November 22 and December 7th, 1967, at Stax Records in Memphis just days before his untimely death on December 10th in a plane crash at the age of 26. The song was released on January 8, 1968 becoming Redding’s first #1.

Pepperland, 737 E. Francisco Blvd. (Litchfield’s sign), San Rafael

Just around the corner from Grateful Dead bassist, Phil Lesh’s club, Terrapin Crossroads, sits a building that Pink Floyd, Steve Miller, Frank Zappa, David Crosby, Janis Joplin, Duke Ellington, and then some, all played in during its’ short lived existence as a music venue in the early 1970’s. The building and original two-story motel still exists off the 101 under the famous Litchfield’s sign. The rooms of the former Bermuda Palms are now a Motel 6 where John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and Lauran Bacall stayed during the production of the movie Blood Alley, filmed over the hill at China Camp State Park in 1955.

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