United Sound Systems Studios

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United Sound Systems Studios
United Sound Logo.jpg
Background Information


Danielle Scott






5840 2nd Ave,
Detroit, MI 48202








United Sound Systems Recording Studios established in 1933 by Jimmy Siracuse became the first independent and full service major recording studio in the nation and created a platform which gave artists, musicians, writers, and producers the ability to record music, cut the record and get airplay without being signed to a major label. What started as a hub for commercials and advert jingles, in the 1940s Charlie Parker, Max Roach & Miles Davis recorded BeBop Jazz Standards, and John Lee Hooker recorded ‘Boogie Chillun in 1948. In the early 1950s Dizzy Gillespie records tracks for Dee Gee Records and Prize. Detroit singer Little Willie John records his first record, "Mommy, What Happened to Our Christmas Tree," at at the age of 14. Sonny Wilson (aka Jackie Wilson) records "Danny Boy". In the mid 1950's Detroit-based country singer and songwriter Jimmy Work recorded for Dot Records at United Sound Systems. With Casey Clark's band, Work made two of his most successful songs: Making Believe" and "That's What Makes The Jukebox Play."

In 1959, with the help of a loan from his family trust, Berry Gordy Jr. bought some studio time to produce his very first Motown record. it was Marv Johnson's "Come to Me" which was later released on Tamla 101.

In the 1960s, United Sound became home to hits by Bob Seger (“Ramblin’ Gablin Man” & “Heavy Music”), The MC5 (“Back In The U.S.A”), and many of Detroit’s rock & roll luminaries. Don Davis, a producer who worked for Motown and Stax records would revitalize the Stax Records catalogue by recording albums such as Isaac Hayes’ “Hot Buttered Soul”, “Shaft”, and Johnnie Taylor’s “Who’s Makin’ Love”, and the Dramatics’ “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” at United Sound.

1970s United Sound Systems was a revolving door for the who’s who of the industry elite.

Don Davis purchased United Sound in 1971, the studio that would then change the landscape of the music industry by producing the very first Platinum Single, Johnnie Taylor’s “Disco Lady”

Gladys Knight & The Pips, Albert King. George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic created the sound that became known as “P-Funk”. P-Funk bands such as Bootsy’s Rubber Band, The Brides Of Funkenstein, Parlet, Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns, ) all recorded their major works here, well into the 1980s, when George Clinton discovered a band called “The Red Hot Chili Peppers” and recorded their first major album ‘Freaky Styley’ at United Sound. In 1974 a local rock band called “Death”, created a sound so far ahead of its time that today it is referred to as protopunk.

Important events happened at United Sound in the 1980s and 1990s. Paul Riser, the famed arranger for Motown, conducted the orchestra for hits like Luther Vandross’ ‘A House Is Not A Home’ and R-Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. Also, The Rolling Stones Joined miss Aretha Franklin for an updated version of their hit “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, which was used in the movie of the same name with a fresh-on-the-scene comedienne named Whoopi Goldberg.

The list of artists and timeless hits that came from within the walls of United Sound Systems Studios is where the music industry got it’s standard.

Today United Sound Systems Studios is endangered with threat of demolition by Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) due to the planed widening of I-94. the Detroit Sound Conservanc (DSC) has been involved in drawing attention to United Sound’s historical legacy.


United Sound Systems Outside.jpg


From Discogs

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