On the Cover: Rose Mann Cherney
Oct 25, 2010 1:54 PM, By Maureen Droney
Rose Mann Cherney is the quintessential studio operator. She’s spent the bulk of her 30-plus-year studio career at Record Plant in Los Angeles, and truth be told, the two are so intertwined it’s hard to imagine one without the other. And it’s not just a career; it’s a lifestyle. Record Plant was the first studio to implement the philosophy that recording clients should be treated like guests in a fine hotel. Originally, studios had been seen as nothing but utilitarian song factories—a place to get the job done where comfort and service were not priorities. At Record Plant, all that changed, and Mann Cherney was key to making the new regime work. Her clients are welcome guests, and she goes to great lengths to ensure that the rest of the studio staff treats them that way. She understands the importance of comfort, vibe and, most of all, good service. She also understands the value of privacy. A witty conversationalist, she’s adept with entertaining stories. But when it comes to things that matter, her lips are sealed.
Now a partner in the business and company president, she’s a confidante of rock stars, a champion of assistant engineers, a savvy judge of character, a loyal friend, a fervent foodie and great cook. But even though she’s lived an L.A. lifestyle for those same 30-plus years, Mann Cherney, who was born in Chicago, is still deeply attached to her roots. Retaining the traits of a Chi-town native, she can be as bottom line as they come, she doesn’t miss a trick and she tells it like it is. Married for 20 years to Grammy-winning, multi-Platinum producer/engineer Ed Cherney, she’s assembled a large universe of friends and fans. She generously shares her business knowledge, and has influenced studio managers and owners everywhere. She also shared some of that knowledge with me one recent evening as we relaxed in her patio garden overlooking the Venice canals.
How did you end up in this business?
I fell into booking by accident, back in Chicago. I was working on a modeling career and supporting myself as a bill collector. [Laughs] I had sort of an ethnic look—nobody wanted a model that looked like me! I was also hanging out with a band called Big Thing—which became Chicago—and I met a lot of people in the industry. Bill Traut, of Dunwich Productions, asked me to come and work for him. He thought I’d be good at booking. And I was!
That’s an understatement.
I went on to work with Curtis Mayfield, and eventually had my own little booking agency with like 21 bands, which is how I met Al Kooper. When I decided to move to L.A. and was looking for a job, I ran into Al at the Rainbow. He told me about a studio that needed a front desk girl/booker, and he arranged an interview for me with Chris Stone [one of the owners of Record Plant].
While I was sitting waiting to see Chris, I could feel the electricity and mystery in the air. I felt it from when I was buzzed in and I walked down the hall where Stevie Wonder was playing air hockey with Glenn Frey. Amazing. [Laughs] There’s more to tell that I saw that day, but that’s for my book.
The interview was pretty crazy. Chris was a very reserved businessman who turned out to be hugely important in my life, and remains so. The next interview was with Gary Kellgren [the other RP owner], who was the complete opposite. He was wearing a top hat, a long green velvet coat, and had a cooler filled with champagne. Very eccentric. [Laughs] But Al had warned me about him.
I told them I could only promise a year. I wanted to work in music publishing and I thought the studio was a good place to learn. But the week I started, Stevie Wonder was recording Songs in the Key of Life and The Eagles were working on Hotel California. Within six months I knew I had found my niche. I loved, and still love, being in the studio surrounded by music and creativity. Musicians, managers, promo guys, stylists, designers—it was definitely the scene and you could learn a lot if you paid attention.
One day a producer asked me to make him a screwdriver, and I made it fancy, like he was in a fine restaurant. He loved it, and that’s when I got it: Treat the clients like they are in your home.
And that’s part of Record Plant’s philosophy.
That and “Everybody is a star; no one goes home unhappy. Whatever it takes to get the job done.” Doing that has given Record Plant a reputation that has lasted. The look on a young band’s faces or an intern’s face when they first walk into one of the most well-known studios in the world—just to feel it is exhilarating. It gets me high—as does a full studio with artists jumping from room to room creating.
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