Blitz Recording Studios owner Richard Livoni says, “I think only Signature Sound or maybe Studio West have been around longer.” Livoni’s Mission Hills storefront has been around for 14 years; before setting up shop on Reynard Way, Livoni worked out of a basement for 10 years.
“Business is tough,” says Livoni. “Quite a few studios have gone under. You have to really be creative.”
To Livoni, being creative means he’s learned how to “bake” deteriorating reel-to-reel tapes.
“The glue comes off the tape and actually sticks on the heads on the tape recorder. That’s why you dehumidify them. You have to find a convection oven that will go as low as 140 degrees. You bake the tape for eight hours.”
Afterward, Livoni transfers the music to digital and then remasters it. He doesn’t charge for the baking, but his remixing time is billed at $35 an hour, $50 on weekends.
“I’ve never had a tape that was not able to be saved. But I always do a disclaimer that says I can’t take responsibility if the tape is too far gone.”
Livoni, 57, started singing and playing guitar locally in the Blitz Brothers, his hard rock/blues band that in the ’70s performed at Dick’s at the Beach, the Spirit Club, Wallbangers, My Rich Uncle’s, Ledbetters, the Bacchanal, and the Trojan Horse.
“We played from 1973 to ’86. Money was really good then. You’d make as much as $1100 to $1200 a night playing at a bar. We’d have encores every night. There would be lines at the door. I don’t know any place where that happens anymore. Now you have to pay to play. I remember Winstons would let us charge $2 at the door, which we would keep, and we’d get a cut of the bar. The owner would actually let me count the [bar] money.”
Livoni says it wasn’t the late-’70s disco craze that snuffed out the good life for local rockin’ bar bands.
“It started going down when the liquor laws got stiffer about 1983. That’s when the nightclub scene started seeing a major decline. It was all over by 1986.”
– Ken Leighton