There’s a terrific blog post on the site of our friends at Universal Audio. The post has been up for quite some time, but it’s a wonderful story about how legendary audio engineer and UREI/UA founder Bill Putnam met a young man named Allen Sides, who went on to own and operate Ocean Way Studios and is now the founder and CEO of Ocean Way Audio.
Sides, at the time, was barely out of high school, but already had an immense interest in audio recording and speaker design, and had also developed an excellent sense of entrepreneurship. From the UA blog…
In the mid-70s, Bill Putnam Sr. of Universal Audio caught wind of “this kid” who had finagled his way into buying up some surplus gear from his UREI factory at fire sale prices. The story was that he had been selling some of it off at a handsome profit, and using the rest to help build a remarkable home studio right off the beach in nearby Santa Monica, CA.
After a brief meeting in his office, Bill Sr. decided to pay a visit, and took his son along for the ride. Bill Jr., just twelve years old at the time, remembers that day vividly, “We drove out in my dad’s Lincoln Continental, walked around the back of the house and into the garage, and there was this huge speaker system right in front of us. It seemed like it was ten feet tall. And when he played us a bunch of stuff that he had recorded, my dad’s jaw just dropped.”
A photo of a very young Allen Sides working at the console at United Recording. Image courtesy of Universal Audio.
The rest, as they say, is history. Allen and Bill hit it off right away, and ended up working closely together. Bill Putnam was perhaps the greatest mentor that Allen could have found, and likewise, Allen’s role as Bill’s protégé made him the perfect candidate to take over the former United Recording studio in the mid-1980s and give it the name of his former facility in Santa Monica… Ocean Way Studios. In addition to the original Hollywood facility, Allen went on to expand Ocean Way into multiple locations including Nashville, St Barth’s at Eden Rock and elsewhere. These facilities comprise the most award winning and successful music studios in the world, with albums recorded in Mr. Sides’ studios having sold in excess of one billion copies. But it really all started when Bill Putnam sought out “this kid” in Santa Monica.