Richard Alderson began his professional audio career with inventor Sherman Fairchild (who pioneered aerial photography, discovered what became the industry standard for manufacturing semi-conductors, and developed the first monolithic integrated circuit), consulting for Fairchild Audio, manufacturer of the famous 660 compressor, and also building Fairchild's elaborate personal audio systems. His first "studio" was a single room in Carnegie Hall (where he also lived, illegally) and among his earliest recordings were Nina Simone (live at the Village Gate, Carnegie Hall, and even at her home) and the famous 1962 Gaslight tapes of Bob Dylan. In 1962, Alderson designed and built RLA Studios in a formerly condemned building on West 65th Street in N.Y.C., using a fire-damaged Ampex tape machine that he restored, a couple ribbon microphones, and a four-track mixer. This is where he engineered much of the ESP catalog (including Albert Ayler's The Bells and both volumes of Sun Ra's Heliocentric Worlds) and many Prestige sessions (Jaki Byard, Sonny Criss, Illinois Jacquet, etc.). When his first financial partner was bought out by Harry Belafonte, RLA became Impact Studios (with a serious equipment upgrade including one of the first eight-track recorders in New York City), where he continued to engineer albums for Fania (Fania All-Stars, Ray Barretto, Joe Bataan, etc.) in addition to recording such varied artists as Muddy Waters, Johnny Nash, and the Last Poets. He also produced multiple albums by the Fugs and Pearls Before Swine in addition to his recording work. Outside the studio, Alderson did live sound for Harry Belafonte from 1963-1968 on a self-designed system and also accompanied Bob Dylan and the Band on their historic 1965 world tour, again, mixing the live sound on a custom-designed system. In 1969, feeling burned out, Alderson packed up and moved to Chiapas, Mexico, where he spent the next five years living and recording the indigenous music of the region. These recordings were released by Smithsonian Folkways as Bats' I Son: Music of Chiapas Highlands Mexico (re-released by Latitude/Locust in 2004). Returning to New York in 1975, Alderson designed and operated Rosebud Recording for Ralph MacDonald, overseeing recordings by Grover Washington, Jr. (including his multi-platinum Winelight), Roberta Flack, David Sanborn, and others into the '80s while continuing as intermittent producer for the Fugs. Alderson continues to work as both producer and engineer, but the bulk of his work is currently audio consulting (Alderson Acoustics) in and around New York, where he has designed more than 50 recording facilities of various types.
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