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Club Fed: Government Rocks ‘N’ Rolls with Santana and Others

November 15, 1985

SAUSALITO, Calif. (AP) _ Uncle Sam probably never dreamed he’d be rocking ‘n’ rolling one day with Carlos Santana, the Starship and Huey Lewis and the News, let alone operating one of the nation’s hottest recording studios.

And by the same token, rock musicians never thought they’d be recording at a studio operated by the government.

But when federal agents on Nov. 4 reopened The Plant Studios - now dubbed ″Club Fed″ - musicians and employees decided, ″What the heck,″ recalled studio manager Claire Pister.

Agents seized the studio in September and padlocked its doors after its owner, Stanley F. Jacox, was arrested on drug manufacturing charges.

Pister said in an interview Thursday she at first thought it might be difficult to lure artists back to the studio. But her fears were unfounded. ″We really didn’t have to do anything. As soon as everyone heard we were back open again, they started rolling in,″ said Pister, who runs the studio with a skeleton crew under contract with the government.

″Of course, they were concerned about federal agents being on the premises. But after finding that they were not allowed in the building, everything was fine,″ she said.

Among the first clients was guitarist Carlos Santana, whose new album, to be titled ″Personal Contact,″ should be released by spring.

Santana’s band didn’t worry about working in the studio. In fact, they had fears of not being able to record at the Plant, said Bryan Bell, spokesman for Santana.

″We were really concerned about finding a studio with a reputation as good as the Plant,″ Bell said. Some of the rock stars at the studio include Dan Fogelberg, Rick James, Survivor, Heart and Journey. ″We were so happy to hear that it had reopened.″

Pister said Huey Lewis has called to congratulate the staff and say he expects to be recording in January. Buddy Miles and John Fogerty also have scheduled appointments.

″It’s business as usual, here,″ she said. ″In fact, we’re booked solid through December.″

While artists and Plant employees felt confident about reopening the studio, government officials were leery.

″We were a bit hesitant to open the studio at first,″ said John Gisla, assistant U.S. attorney. ″The government runs governments, but has no experience running a recording studio.″

The government gained permission from the courts on Wednesday to look for a buyer for the studio, Gisla said.

If a buyer is found, the government has to gain permission from the courts to sell it, and profits made will be held by the government until the legal case against Jacox is settled, Gisla said.

″We’re not in the line of rock ‘n’ roll,″ said Deputy U.S. Marshal Alan Jeannerett. ″We finally decided to open the studio to maintain the value of the property until the trial could be settled.″

A hearing in the criminal case against Jacox is set for Dec. 17 in Sacramento.

″I guess it really doesn’t matter who owns the studio,″ Pister said. ″It’s the feeling you get from the studio, and I know these people wouldn’t be coming back if they weren’t feeling comfortable.″

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