Bob Brooks started his recording career on a wire recorder… yes; you heard that right. A wire recorder; and cut acetates from the wire for on-air release. Please… no RCA dog logo here… he’s not that old!
His first commercial production was recorded in 1957 with two RCA 44 ribbon mics on to a 7.5ips (mono) Magnecorder. Wow… High tech!! Now some 500 projects over the 50 plus years since that grand start, he has seen it all and owned a bunch of it. Now in semi-retirement, he operates in the wonderful digi world of Pro Tools. Brooks has never looked back but moves forward daily in this great new adventure. Bob built the first Rupert Neve install in Vancouver on Homer St in 1972; owned The Little Mountain Sound Studios (LTLMTN) located in Vancouver, Canada; a major hit studio of the 80s and 90s; and came out of retirement to build a first class digital studio in Seattle. Three studios in a lifetime are not bad, I guess.
It’s been a trip and the journey goes on.
The Little Mountain Sound Studios (LTLMTN); once Canada’s largest studio complex north of Los Angeles, was built in the early 70s by Griffiths, Gibson Productions (GGP), one of the most successful commercial & jingle production companies in North America. Geoff Turner was hired to design, build and manage the new studio. In 1976, Geoff Turner took leave of LTLMTN. He went on to found and operate Pinewood Studios, an audio post production facility named after the famous English recording stages. Ironically, the studio site on Homer St. in Vancouver that Turner took over was originally designed and built by Bob Brooks in partnership with Creative House in 1972. Brooks left the Creative House Studios in 1974 working from offices in Radio CKWX studios on Burrard St. He began to use the new LTLMTN complex for his production company needs; dealing in jingles, motion picture scoring and album production.
When Turner left LTLMTN in ‘76, GGP approached Brooks to manage LTLMTN. The then current staff, except for a receptionist and part time tech had all left with Turner. Roger Monk came on with Brooks as Senior Engineer and John Vrtacic of Toronto was hired as Technical Director and became, as Brooks described him, crucial to the world wide success of LTLMTN. Much of the LTLMTN success can also be credited to staffer Ron (Obvious) Vermuellen, John’s venerable assistant.
Renowned producer Bruce Fairbairn started recording at LTLMTN in the mid 70s as a member of the band Prism. He found the environment at LTLMTN to be agreeable so he decided to “hang his hat” at LTLMTN and ended up doing the bulk of his projects there.
Bob Rock was hired out of high school by Brooks as a staff engineer and frequently engineered for Fairbairn before eventually becoming a major music producer himself. Rock is now located in Hawaii.
Brooks’ nephew, Mike Fraser, was hired and began assisting Bob Rock. Mike is and has been a world famous producer engineer for decades and continues to use the Warehouse Studios, owned by Bryan Adams, as one of his main production centers.
In 1982, Western Broadcasting, the then current owners, sold the studio to Brooks. A couple of years later, the classic Rupert Neve consoles were broken up (and reassembled) and Solid State Logic consoles were installed in Studios A and B, one of the first SSL installs in North America.
David Foster became a regular at LTLMTN where he composed, produced and kibitzed as only David can; particularly enjoying the fully staffed restaurant at LTLMTN. Foster produced for Chaka Khan, Julio Iglesias, Paul Hyde and the Payolas, The Tubes and many others and wrote the theme for St. Elmo’s Fire and Peter Cetera’s monster hit, The Glory of Love in the studio dining room.
In addition to the high profile music clients, LTLMTN did a significant amount of audio recording in film scoring including sharing in best sound Oscar for Oliver Stone's Platoon. This followed some years of work for various film producers which included sessions for Music Director, David Franco and the early Stone film, Salvador. Brooks also managed a continuous string of ‘movies of the week’ sessions for ABC, CBS, NBC and Warner Bros.
A commercial production division headed up by Dick Abbott was also part of this amazing complex. A constant string of awards for best radio and TV commercials came to this department. Brooks’ senior engineers, Monk and Abbott have continued that great legacy at Monk’s current facilities Dick & Rogers in downtown Vancouver.
Brooks retired from the industry in 1992 with the sale of LTLMTN to the Levin family. The Levin family shut down the historic LTLMTN 18 months later and moved the gear to their Burnaby Greenhouse Studios, now relocated on downtown Vancouver’s east side.
A call from Cedar Park Church in Seattle brought Brooks back into the industry in 2003, this time fully digital. (Featured in Digizine). John Vrtacic, once again, assisted in the design of the build out of an old church in Mukilteo, just north of Seattle. An association that began with sound consulting and installations during the previous decade saw James Cadwallader of Spokane, WA become the digital version of John Vrtacic for Brooks. Cadwallader became a lead member of the team that designed and installed the Imperative Studios project and continues his association with Brooks to this day.
In a period of 4 years, Imperative Studios developed a base of business that was quite amazing. Unfortunately, this relationship with Imperative Studios came to an end in the spring of 2008 when the owners decided to take the studio private. The studio has since been closed down.
Bob's 48 year marriage to Iona came to an end in 2010 when Iona lost her battle with breast cancer. Bob has since returned to Canada and is now married to Vancouver clinical counsellor and long time family friend, Cheryl Lynn Austin-Brooks. They live in Langley, B.C. where Bob continues to create music in his ProTools studio.
There is no retirement: only purpose!