Fantasy Studios, the West Berkeley recording and film studio where world-famous acts like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Green Day and Santana once laid down tracks, announced on July 27 that it will close for good on Sept. 15. The Fantasy Studios building, at 2600 10th Street, is going on the market.
"We wish to thank you for your patronage and for the privilege of working with you on the incredible projects you have completed at Fantasy," an email announcement from the studio reads. "We are grateful and proud that your works of art will represent us forever. Our wonderful staff engineers and producers have freelance relationships with other studios and production spaces, and would love to continue serving you going forward."
Fantasy Studios was once synonymous with Fantasy Records, which began as a jazz label in San Francisco in the late 1940s with a roster that grew to include Dave Brubeck, Cal Tjader and Vince Guaraldi. Saul Zaentz and partners acquired it after the Summer of Love, in 1968. At the time the label was headquartered in Oakland, where Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded their first breakthrough single on Fantasy Records, "Suzie Q." The band's success put the independent label on the map, and it moved into the current 10th Street building in the early '70s.
Zaentz forayed into film production in 1972 with Saul Zaentz Company, also headquartered in the 10th Street building, which became known as the Zaentz Media Center. The studio produced films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next, Amadeus and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
Fantasy Records sold multiple times over the years, with Concord Music Group acquiring the label and its catalog in 2004. The label continued to lease space in the 10th Street building, which is owned by Wareham Development. Over the years, artists such as David Bowie, U2, Wilco, Lil Wayne, Mos Def, Tony Bennett, Aerosmith, Counting Crows, Country Joe McDonald and many, many others recorded at the studio. Green Day recently announced plans for an upcoming 25th anniversary tour for their 1994 breakthrough Dookie, which was recorded in the building's Studio A and sold over 20 million copies.
Wareham Development acquired the 10th Street property in 2007 for $20 million, and continued the Zaentz Media Center's focus on the arts; the developer founded the Berkeley Film Foundation in collaboration with the Saul Zaentz Company and the City of Berkeley in 2009, and independent filmmakers, musicians and game developers have continued to use the Fantasy Studios space. In 2007, when Concord Music Group consolidated its business, Wareham Development bought the rights to the Fantasy Studios name and its equipment to preserve the studio's legacy.
That era will soon come to a close after 11 years. We'll update this post when we learn more.