Meanwhile, in Philadelphia... FORUM: Archive - After July 12, 2003: Meanwhile, in Philadelphia...
Top of pageBottom of page   By BCNYC ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:04 am:

Sigma Studios to Be Sold
July 30, 2003

After 35 years and countless hit recordings, Joe Tarsia, owner and founder of Sigma Sound, has accepted an offer to sell his 212 North 12th Street landmark. Tarsia said about the buyer, �I am satisfied that the Sigma legacy will be in good hands and I am excited by the plans for making major improvements to the facility and for expanding the scope of services company will offer..�

The driving force behind Sigma�s success, Tarsia�s engineering efforts gained the attention of Rolling Stone, which in its 1981 The Rock Book of Lists said, "Joe Tarsia must be considered the leading engineer in the field of soul and dance.� Ed Ward of Pubic Radio in his review of the Philadelphia International�s box set referred to Tarsia�s work as genius and Temples of Sound, a new book that chronicles 15 legendary recording studios, said about him, �Simply one of the greatest engineers of all times.�

At its height, Sigma operated ten studios in Philadelphia and New York, and catered to a legion of top artists that ran the gamut from Aretha Franklin to ZZ Top. While Sigma�s New York studios boasted a clientele that included the likes of Madonna, Billy Joel, Steely Dan and Whitney Houston, it was Philadelphia and the music of Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Thomas Bell and artists like the O�Jays, Stylistics, Teddy Pendergrass and Lou Rawls who won Sigma international acclaim. Hailed as the home of �The Philadelphia Sound,� Sigma attracted artists and producers from around the world who came to capture the Philly magic.
(Partial list attached)

Tarsia will undertake a new endeavor when he launches his internet company, Answer Planet. will offer online help services to the professional and amateur music producer. Answer Planet will also market a full line of music production and recording gear under the name

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:11 am:

Can you post this link please Brian, if it came from one.


Top of pageBottom of page   By BCNYC ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:22 am:

No link, David, this was forwarded to me second-hand from the studio. It arrived with the following list...

April 2003

Phyllis Hyman ~ Tevin Campbell ~ Kardinal Offishall ~ Big Daddy Kane ~ The Dead Milkmen ~ Troop ~ Peter Nero ~ Grover Washington, Jr. ~ Yes ~ Vanessa Williams ~ Bruce Hornsby ~ Rude Boys ~ Da Youngsters ~ Seamus Egan Solas ~ Karan Casey ~ Cathis Ryan ~ Demetrios ~ Paul Sorvino ~ Edgardo Cintron ~ Frankie Beverly and Maze ~ Miki Howard ~ Tracie Spencer ~ Rita Marley ~ P..P. Arnold ~ Bell Biv Devoe ~ Cyndi Lauper ~ Hank Williams, Jr. Keith Sweat ~ The Jackson�s ~ Michael Jackson ~ LaToya Jackson ~ Jermaine Jackson ~ Rolling Stones ~ Orleans ~ April Wine ~ Mick Jagger ~ Keith Richards Sting ~ Moon Martin ~ Talking Heads ~ Tom Tom Club ~ Tears For Fears ~ ZZ Top ~ Ziggy Marley ~ Steely Dan ~ Paul Simon ~ Lou Reed ~ The Saturday Night Band ~ Scritti Politti ~ Brewer & Shipley ~ Bonnie Pointer ~ The Roches Bobby McFerrin ~ Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam ~ The Go Gos ~ Arcadia ~ The Charlie Daniels Band ~ Huey Lewis & The News ~ Joan Jett ~ Irene Cara ~ Gregory Hines Phillipe Wynn ~ Kajagoogoo ~ Kurtis Blow ~ Mark-Almond ~ Paul McCartney ~ Nu Shooz ~ Pat Benatar ~ Levert ~ Peter Tosh ~ Blue Magic Samantha Fox ~ Impact ~ Mtume ~ Stephanie Mills ~ Wang Chung ~ Rick James ~ Doobie Brothers ~ George Harrison ~ Wham ~ Terence Trent D�arby Shalamar ~ Miami Sound Machine ~ Taj Mahal ~ Smithereens ~ Paul Williams Ramsey Lewis ~ Manhattan Transfer ~ Billy Ocean ~ David Bowie ~ Five Star Third World ~ Full Force ~ Wynans ~ Whitney Houston ~ Jellybean Benitez Cheap Trick ~ Yoko Ono ~ Four Tops ~ Jeffrey Osbourne ~ Bananarama ~ U2 B-52s ~ Will To Power ~ George Clinton ~ Stylistics ~ Stray Cats ~ Gypsy Lane John Waite ~ Jimmy Cliff ~ Joe Cocker ~ Phil Collins ~ Deodato ~ Miles Davis Denise Williams ~ Michael Bolton ~ Yellowjackets ~ Trammps ~ Jeffrey McBride Rick Springfield ~ The Average White Band ~ Ashford & Simpson ~ David Clayton-Thomas ~ Stevie Wonder ~ Sister Sledge ~ Enchantment ~ Leon Huff Brian Eno ~ Eurythmics ~ Colonel Abrams ~ Krokus ~ Bette Midler ~ John Mellencamp ~ Diana Ross ~ Cinderella ~ Edgar Winter ~ Jennifer Holiday Jean Carne ~ Dionne Warwick ~ Bryan Adams ~ The Ramones ~ O�Jays Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers ~ Dennis Coffey ~ MFSB Marshall Crenshaw ~ Darryl Hall ~ John Oates ~ Stanley Turrentine ~ Billy Preston ~ Jones Girls ~ George Benson ~ The Village People ~ Billy Idol ~ The Spinners ~ Lou Rawls ~ Andrea True ~ K.C. & The Sunshine Band ~ James Brown ~ Sheena Easton ~ Eddie Kendricks ~ Chuck Mangione ~ The Manhattans ~ Mighty Clouds Of Joy ~ Billy Paul ~ Platinum Blonde ~ Queen Salsoul Orchestra ~ Isaac Hayes ~ B.B. King ~ Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes Michael Henderson ~ Gloria Gaynor ~ Sly & The Family Stone ~ Aretha Franklin Leon Redbone ~ Instant Funk ~ Engelbert Humperdink ~ Loleatta Holloway Melba Moore ~ Kenny Rogers ~ John Travolta ~ Joe Travolta ~ Rod Stewart Barry Manilow ~ Silvetti ~ Robert Palmer ~ Evelyn �Champagne� King ~ Fat Larry�s Band ~ Linda Clifford ~ Chaka Kahn ~ Carol Williams ~ Denise McCann Moment of Truth ~ Ray Stevens ~ Love Committee ~ Baby Grand Independents ~ Philly Devotions ~ Double Exposure ~ Ralph Carter ~ Jimmy Ruffin ~ South Shore Commission ~ Herbie Mann ~ LTD Exchange ~ Fantastic Four ~ Ultra High Frequency ~ King Erikson ~ Atlantic Starr ~ Rockets ~ Gary Criss ~ CJ & Company ~ Carla Lewis ~ Odia Cotes ~ Gloria Gaynor ~ Sara Dash Detroit Emeralds ~ The Flying Burrito Brothers ~ America ~ Johnny Mathis New York City ~ Wayne Newton ~ Wilson Pickett ~ Arthur Prysock ~ Bonnie Raitt ~ Ritchie Family ~ Todd Rundgren ~ The Nazz ~ The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra ~ Philadelphia Boys Choir ~ Boston Pops Orchestra ~ Whispers Neil Sedaka ~ The Five Satins ~ Joe Simon ~ The Dixie Hummingbirds ~ Connie Stevens ~ Billy Cobham ~ Ronnie Dyson ~ The Three Degrees ~ Dee Dee Bridgewater ~ People�s Choice ~ Grace Jones ~ Dan Hartman ~ Kid Creole & The Coconuts ~ Ecstacy, Passion & Pain ~ Lola Falana ~ First Choice ~ Brenda & The Tabulations ~ Johnny Gill ~ Elton John ~ Robert Hazard ~ Monster Orchestra ~ Arthur Prysock ~ Frankie Valli ~ McFadden & Whitehead ~ Dexter Wansel ~ The Temptations ~ Robin Trower ~ Claudja Barry ~ Culture ~ Muddy Waters ~ Ebonys ~ Moonglows ~ Dick Jensen ~ Dusty Springfield ~ The Dells Lee Andrew & The Hearts ~ Corner Boys ~ Joey Heatherton ~ The Soul Survivors ~ Kiara ~ Paul Anka ~ Len Barry ~ Bobby Vinton ~ Exuma ~ Carol Douglas ~ The Tymes ~ Dee Dee Sharp ~ The Dovells ~ Major Harris ~ Barbara Mason ~ The Presidents ~ Dee Dee Warwick ~ Johnny Williams ~ The Sweet Inspirations ~ O.C. Smith ~ Bobby Rydell ~ Frankie Smith ~ Roy Ayres ~ Fuzz Jerry Butler ~ Vibrations ~ Eddie Holman ~ The Intruders ~ Epsilons ~ Four Aces ~ Danny & The Juniors ~ The Delfonics ~ Futures ~ Intrigues ~ Bunny Sigler ~ William DeVaughn ~ Double Exposure ~ The Electric Indian ~ Ethics Madonna ~ Jennifer Lopez ~ Ben Affleck ~ Liv Tyler ~ Kevin Smith ~ Teena Marie ~ Pink ~ Brian McKnight ~ Tyrese ~ Mya ~ Silk ~ Case ~ The Roots Common ~ Erykah Badu ~ Freeway ~ Kurupt ~ Nate Dogg ~ Mack 10 ~ Paul Simon ~ kd lang ~ Jill Scott ~ Floetry ~ Backstreet Boys ~ New Edition Christopher Williams ~ Sharon Leal ~ Bruce Willis ~ Ween ~ Fenix TX Rampage ~ Beenie Segal ~ Eve ~ Levert ~ Ms. Jade ~ Journalist ~ Glen Lewis Musiq Soulchild ~ Adina Howard ~ Bela Fleck & The Flecktones ~ Pieces Of A Dream ~ Cam�ron ~ Morgan Freeman ~ 3rd Faze ~ Svalla ~ Helen Reddy ~ Saint Santana ~ Glen Jones ~ Angie Stone ~ Dru Hill ~ Aftershock ~ The Wild Colonials ~ Clarence �Gatemouth� Brown ~ The Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble ~ Boyz II Men ~ Patti LaBelle ~ Gerald Levert ~ Teddy Pendergrass New Kids On The Block ~ Regina Belle ~ Jo Little ~ Lorenzo ~ Bill Cosby B.T. Express ~ Bob Crewe Generation ~ Chubby Checker ~ Vic Damone Frankie Avalon ~ The Assembled Multitude ~ Archie Bell & The Drells ~ Cecil Womack ~ Madeline Kahn ~ Little Anthony & The Imperials ~ Borialis ~ Gladys Knight and the Pips

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Barry Sheffield ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:29 am:

What a list, what a History and what a Story it can Tell! - I travelled to Philadpelia a few years back and searched for Sigma Studios and could not find it! - hoped I may have been able to get a Sigma Studio T Shirt! haha

How about "The Sigma Story"

Thanks to JOE for all the joy SIGMA brought us, and the many Talented Producers such as OUR BOBBI - MR ELI

I have such warm memories of The Music.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Vickie ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 10:56 am:

WOW! I am so glad I got got visit Sigma when I was in Philly, we had a meeting in the buidling.

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 11:22 am:

First Muscle Shoals, now Sigma Sound....

Changing times, indeed.

Thank you, Joe Tarsia, for being at the helm of music history.

Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 11:32 am:

How sad indeed!!

Some of my greatest musical memories were made in that building at 212 N.12th st.
Oh, if only the walls could talk.

The very essence of the soul of the seventies was created between those walls with some of the finest musicians, engineers, producers, arrangers, songwriters and staff there ever was.

I just hope that the new owners, whoever thay may be will keep up the fine standards set by Joe and his former, fine staff.

B. Eli 7/31/03

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Barry Sheffield ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 12:50 pm:

Vickie, I am green with envy, I went to Philly a few years back and I could not find SIGMA SOUND, I was so sick! - I am going to return as I want to visit DETROIT for my first time and see HITSVILLE, may make it for FOUR TOPS 50TH ANNIVERSARY next year! fingers crossed.

Any news on The Tops Book Vickie?

Cheers John

Emjoyed your Philly reports!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 01:07 pm:

Our Vickie is compiling material for a book on Tammi Terrell. Maybe she'll tackle the Tops next.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Vickie ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 01:48 pm:

Hey John,
I remember Sharon Davis was looking into tackling that Tops book John Lester was prodding her to do it, I was encouraging her also..I think she was going to talk with Levi's daughter if I am not mistaken...I've heard no other news on it. I'd love to seee it happen though, I liked Sharon's previous books..

PS: Philly was absolutely grand and I am still on my Cloud 10 from the trip..I'm very busy now with all the info I gathered.

Life is Sweet!

Vickie :)

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 01:54 pm:

Sources say that the purchasers of Sigma may have been Roc-A- Fella records, Jay-Z's label as Joe was in meetings with them regarding a possible purchase.
I have yet to confirm.

If that is the case, I just hope that Joe remains at the helm to keep up the standard of excellence that Sigma represents.

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 01:56 pm:

Thanks to Bobby and Weldon for giving us a most memorable day in Philly.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 02:24 pm:


I only wish that everyone would have had several more days to really do it up right but, just meeting you guys in the flesh was a joy.

Long live Soulful Detroit...and Philly!!!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Barry Sheffield ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 02:35 pm:

Thanks Ralph - can't wait for VIKIE'book on TAMMI - it could not be a better person writing it! - hope You open a website to sell us Friends signed copies Vickie, haha

Vickie that will be good news if Sharon would take up the project, fingers crossed.

Has anyone read "The Temples of Sound" it has been on my wants list for a while, but I can't find out a lot about the contents, though from the press release we know SIGMA is cover and I am sure HITSVILLE must be, I wondered if the book was heavy more for studio buffs??

Thanks - John

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Meikle ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 03:25 pm:

Sigma Sound

Top of pageBottom of page   By Carl Dixon London ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 03:36 pm:

In that case, I think we better book a week next time David and Bobby. I am convinced we still would not have enough time to do everything.

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 03:42 pm:

Thanks for posting your photos. I think I better take that train to Philly in a few days....
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By stephanie ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 04:42 pm:

Man whoever winds up getting Muscle Shoals and NOW Sigma Sound (I hurt as I type this) I hope it goes into the hands of someone who wants to make music and not junk!!! I know things have to change but if they can preserve Monticello they can certainly preserve these studios or use them for REAL musicians. My only fear is they will wind up in the hands of some no good rap person or technoperson...hopefully they wont want it I wish Clive Davis could buy it. Thank God the Motown studios and the Stax Museum are around,,

Top of pageBottom of page   By yoyoshep ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 07:42 pm:

My introduction to the Philly Sound started in 1968 when I was six years old. That is when I first heard "La La Means I Love You" by the Delfonics. Through the years I discovered all the wondrous Philly music and became a Philly fanatic. Being from California it was always my dream to visit the City Of Brotherly Love. The busyness of life and work delayed my journey. In 1992 I wrote a letter to Sigma Sound Studios and Joe Tarsia citing my appreciation for his enginering genius. To my my surprise Mr. Tarsia wrote me back! In March 2002 I was finally able to make a musical pilgrimage to Philadelphia. I visited Sigma Sound Studios and was given a tour by the secretary. I met and sat down and talked with Mr. Tarsia who graciously spared his time. He was truely a nice man. I wish him the best and a blessed future.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 07:46 pm:

Nice story yoyoshep. Joe Tarsia is obviously a total pro.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ludie ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:23 pm:

HELLO EVERYONE; I am LUDIE MONTGOMERY , the snot ister of THE LATE GREAT TAMMI TERRELL. I have not visited the forum for quite some time , but I just can't resist . Vickie is working with me on my bookthe . she is elaborating on my 24 chapters and interviewing persons that I have recommended . She is doing a
very good job by the way. Terry and vikie visit here was enjoyable as well as productive.We visited Sigma Sound Studios just over a week ago. the Phila. Music Alliance is housed there.ludie

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:32 pm:

Welcome back to the forum! Your sister Tammi influenced many singers over the years. I wish you and Vickie the best of luck with the book.
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By PlatinumPal ( on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:44 pm:

Hi everyone. Sigma Sound has become a second home to me of late. The transition saddens me in a way, yet every problem presents a challenge, and every challenge presents another opportunity to win or at least to grow. Therefore I welcome the change and will try to assist the new owners in some way to maintain the sterling standard of Mr. Tarsia.

Ludie & Vickie, I am honored to have been with you on your first visit to the studio. Your presence adds to its glorious history. Tammi would be so proud of the progress you two are making. The public is going to love your project! Just take your time to get it right, and we'll be waiting.

Your Pal luvs u both.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Vickie ( on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 12:27 am:

Thank you Plantinum Pal :)

All of us were so busy in Philly, I didn't get the chance mail my postcards out til today (from LA)

they'll never know (tee, hee, hee)

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Barry Sheffield ( on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 02:20 am:

DAVID Thanks for the photos of SIGMA, so good of Ya! - I am still so sad that I could not find it on my visit, I am going to make it back there, and I am GOING TO GET TO SEE HITSVILLE!! haha

I kept reading through the list of artists that used SIGMA last night, and well i was lost for words, never I can hear you say.

Ludie great to have you back on "THE Board" - Tammi I never met, but she means so much to me and I feel as if I know her. Can't wait for THE BOOK! and I know Vickie will do it justice.

No one replied yet if they have read "The Temples of Sound" help Guys!!


Top of pageBottom of page   By John Barry Sheffield ( on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 02:27 am:

Little more information from "The Philladelphia Inquirer"

Posted on Thu, Jul. 31, 2003

Sigma Sound is getting new owner
By Dan DeLuca and Michael Klein
Inquirer Staff Writers

Sigma Sound Studios - the Center City landmark where the O'Jays, Teddy Pendergrass and the Delfonics helped define the Sound of Philadelphia, and David Bowie recorded his 1975 classic, Young Americans - will change hands in mid-September after 35 years.

The sale is "bittersweet" for owner Joe Tarsia, the largely self-taught recording engineer who put up his car and house in the mid-1960s to bankroll the business, now housed in two buildings on 12th Street near Race Street.

"It's sad," Tarsia said yesterday. "I spent my life doing it. But [music] is a young, vital business, and it was getting to the point where it was no longer fun. I'm 68 years old. Give me a break!"

The prospective buyer is Mario Santoro, 36, a Philadelphia contractor, developer and self-described "frustrated bass player who plays in [his] church band." The purchase price is an estimated $1.5 million.

Tarsia had already worked with Philly International songwriter-producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff at the old Cameo-Parkway studio on South Broad Street when he opened Sigma in August 1968.

"We were in the midst of making a Jerry Butler album," Tarsia remembered. The first handful of hits recorded at Sigma that year were Butler's "Only the Strong Survive" and "Western Union Man" and the Delfonics' "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)."

There were many more, among them Dusty Springfield's "Silly Silly Fool," Harold Melvin and the Blues Notes' "The Love I Lost," the Intruders' "I'll Always Love My Mama," Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones," and the O'Jays' "Love Train." The Jackson 5 and B. B. King came to record at Sigma, as did Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel and Paul Simon.

As an engineer, Tarsia gave records a big, open sound, and a distinctive personality, thanks to his taste for reverb and echo. His favorites include Lou Rawls' "You'll Never Find," the O'Jays' "Backstabbers" and "For the Love of Money," and the Blues Notes' "If You Don't Know Me by Now," featuring Pendergrass' lead vocal.

"I had my own techniques and my own secrets," Tarsia said. "But if it wasn't on the other side of the glass, if it wasn't in the song, we wouldn't have had anything."

In 1976, Sigma opened a branch in New York in the building that is now home to Late Show With David Letterman. Madonna recorded her first two albums in the studio, which closed in 1985. "I remember her sitting on Jellybean Benitez's lap," Tarsia said.

"If I was thinking about how obsessed with history people would be, I would have carried a camera around all the time," he quipped. "But we were too busy working."

In recent years, Sigma has been primarily run by Tarsia's son, Michael, and while it has lost the cachet of the early 1970s, it has remained a busy place, with Philadelphia acts such as the Roots, Beanie Sigel, Eve, Boyz II Men, and Patti LaBelle working there, and Jennifer Lopez recording at the studio while in town to film Jersey Girl last year.

Santoro plans to buy new equipment, renovate the lobby and facade, and run a music school in addition to producing records.

In bringing in "fresh blood," Santoro - who will retain the Sigma Sound Studios name - said he wanted to "recapture the recording business the city has lost to New York and put [Sigma] back on the map."

The school, to be called Sigma Sound Institute, will "teach kids the music business from the ground up... . How about a young kid who has talent but nowhere to learn? He'll get discouraged and give up."

Graham Killian, a graduate of Boston's Berklee College of Music, would head the school, Santoro said.

The new owner plans to tap his connections within the charter school community. His business, Genesis Construction, has done work on local schools.

Santoro, who works with his wife, Noemi Santana, said Sigma's physical renovations should be completed in January. He said he hoped Tarsia would stay around as a consultant.

Tarsia, who lives in Haddonfield and has a home in Avalon, will continue to operate the Web-based music hardware store with partner Mike Smith. He also plans to launch, an online service for producers and recording engineers.

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