THE LEON RUSSELL HOUSE
Skyhill Studios: Where Rock Royalty Recorded
Oklahoma-native son LEON RUSSELL became an in-demand 1960s Los Angeles “session musician” who quickly made the jump to rock-star status later in the decade. A businessman as well, he formed his own record label, built three recording studios—one in Los Angeles at his home at 7709 Skyhill Drive—and later, two in Oklahoma, to write, record, and produce for himself and other artists.
“Skyhill Studios,” which he built in the summer of 1965 inside his Hollywood Hills home at 7709 Skyhill Dr., was inspired by the home recording studios he’d seen and worked in at the homes of Ernie Kovacs, Gary S. Paxton, and Les Paul. Russell hired J.J. Cale (who later wrote the classic rock hits “Cocaine” and “After Midnight”) as his in-home studio manager. Russell—with help from half the Beatles and nearly all of the Rolling Stones—recorded most of his first solo album at Skyhill. Also appearing on the record were rock giants Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood.
Hits piled-up for Russell; some he recorded himself, like “Tight Rope” (his biggest single from his second solo album, “Carney”), “A Song for You,” and “Stranger in a Strange Land,” and others he penned, like “Super Star,” were made famous other artists, like The Carpenters, “Masquerade” which was performed by George Benson, and “Delta Lady” which was sung by Joe Cocker.
Evidence of the recording activity at Skyhill included double-walls, sound-proofing, and elaborate electrical wiring. The house is, to this day, a 2,892 sq.ft. 4BR/3BA two-story home, and different instruments were reportedly set-up in various places, i.e., drums in the den, vocals upstairs in a bedroom, and keyboards in the living room. An upstairs bathroom was the reverb chamber. Another bedroom served as a control room. Where—and when—anybody slept is a good guess. J.J. Cale said in a 1982 interview with Rolling Stone magazine that the first legitimate session at Skyhill Studios took place in August of 1965 for country legend Glen Campbell, and that “the neighbors thought the Hell’s Angels lived at Skyhill because of all the cars, motorcycles, and loud music at all hours of the day and night.”
Ultimately Russell removed his studio equipment from Skyhill and shipped it to Oklahoma when he relocated back to Tulsa. In December of 1972, Leon sold 7709 Skyhill to a close friend and business associate, Diane Sullivan, in whose Trust the house is currently held.
- Highly-desirable cul-de-sac street
- Expansive 2,892 sq.ft. interior spaces
- 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
- Open floor plan
- Large living area with fireplace
- Dining area
- Kitchen with dining area
- 1st-floor den/bedroom with direct-access to garage via a lift/elevator
- 1st floor bedroom
- 1st floor bathroom
- 2nd-floor master bedroom with walk-in closet and bathroom
- 2nd-floor: 2 additional guest rooms and 1 additional bathroom
- Garage with lift/elevator to 1st-floor
- Stair chair lift
- Mid-century build date (1960)
- Elevated from street level
- Private grounds (6,289 sq.ft. lot)
- Great Hollywood Hills location; close to all the area has to offer
- Celebrity history