The Record Plant Diaries Project

RIP: Robert “Kooster” McAllister in his Own Words

Thom Panunzio got me into the door at Record Plant. I was a hippie in Colorado in a treehouse playing bluegrass music in my previous life, and it was right at the time that my band was breaking up. Thom had come out to go skiing and he says, come back east with me, I can get you a job at Record Plant. So, I packed up and I went back east, never thinking I would get the job.

I met with David Hewitt, who was my mentor, and Paul Sloman, who was the studio manager at that point and I worked for three weeks for no money. I just went in and did it, and I fell in love with it completely. I was spending nights sleeping on the shop floor because it didn’t make sense to go home when I would be back the next morning. I was building things, I was learning technical things, and I was wide-eyed.

I hadn’t really been in many other studios. I was a roadie for a band back when I was in high school. This was all new to me. I had done PA stuff. I was fortunate enough to be one of the founding fathers of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I just knew that my band was breaking up, I didn’t know what I was going to do. My friend offered to go back east, and he thought he could get me a job.  So, I walk in and there’s David Bowie sitting on the couch at the main floor. And Bruce Springsteen was in studio B on a lockout. It was overwhelming. It was like, I could not believe that I had had the fortune to come in and be there.  When I first came to Record Plant, it was working 24 hours a day. People were working, all day, all night, in different studios, and it was amazing to see. I feel very lucky that I got to see that at its heyday, and sad that I got to see it when it was taking its final gasps at the end.

When Record Plant finally closed its doors, I bought the remote operation at auction.  Here’s how it happened:

Okay. I’m at the auction, and I’m waiting, the auction’s just packed. It ended up being so big they had to move us into a hotel conference room because they couldn’t fit everyone in, buying all this stuff. Finally, the (Record Plant) truck comes up, and I’m in the bidding war against one other person, and I get the truck, which I’m thrilled about. I really thought that I was fated to get it.  To me, it was my truck.

I hung around to buy some other things, files, records, those types of things, and, what happened next is they finally say, “okay, we’d like to auction the rights to the name Record Plant. We’d like to start the bidding at $5,000 dollars.” And at that point in the room it’s only me and furniture-moving guys. No one raises their hand. So, I say,” I’ll give you 200 dollars.” And no one else raised their hand. No one.  I got the Record Plant name for just 200 dollars.