Golden Voice Recording Company introduction.

Golden Voice studio outside wall

Golden Voice Studio wall c. 1966.

  Golden Voice Recording Co. was a South Pekin, Illinois based recording studio started as a basement endeavor in the early 1960’s. The studio grew until it was destroyed in a fire in July 1978.  At the time of the fire Golden Voice was the largest studio in Illinois outside of Chicago (Peoria Journal Star: July 1978). The studio was scratch built by Jerry and Mary Ann Milam in 1966 to capitalize on the relatively open recording market between Chicago and Nashville.

     The studio, located in an unassuming rural railroad town, would be an important resource for the then vibrant local music scene.  Recording everyone from local nobodies looking to cut their first demo to chart topping artists like: Styx and REO Speedwagon and everybody in between. Golden Voice was an incubator for many musical legends from songwriters and musicians to producers, agents and engineers.  The talents which emerged from the studio have had and continue to have a lasting impact on American music.   

     All types of music were recorded at the studio from Gospel, Pop, Rock ’n Roll and Jazz to Country music and much more, including advertising and radio work.  Golden Voice also served as a boutique record label offering musicians who recorded there an opportunity to release a vinyl version of their session. Pressing records on Golden Voice’s various house labels (Golden Voice and Thunder) allowed many artists a higher profile than the average self-produced records of the late 1960’s.

     The studio techniques and hand built gear pioneered at Golden Voice were at the leading edge of a revolution in studio electronics and acoustics which began in the mid 1960’s.  The studio’s pioneering techniques eventually led Jerry Milam to move from the recording business into high end studio gear installation via his company Milam Audio. Here he also made lasting contributions to studio technology which helped usher in the modern age of recording. His name still resonates among the upper echelons of studio and sound installation professionals.  Jerry has been called on numerous times to craft bespoke studios for some truly great names in American music like Leon Russell and Curtis Mayfield.

Although the studio is gone, this work is an attempt to tell the story of this important recording studio and the impact it had on the music world both locally and nationally during its relatively brief existence.

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