The concept for The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio first came about in 1968 when the Rolling Stones decided they needed a new environment in which to record music. Tired of the 9-to-5 limitations of a regular studio, the Stones decided to use Mick Jagger's new country house (Stargroves) in England to record new music. All the necessary equipment had to be brought to the house, so the idea of putting a control room into a van was brought up by their road manager Ian Stewart. Under Stewart's guidance, a variety of top engineers and producers, including Glyn Johns, were consulted in the project's creation, which was then taken to Dick Swettenham's company Helios Electronics. Known for making mixing consoles for some of the most exclusive studios of the time, the company then produced the first working version of The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Originally only intended for use by The Stones, the unit soon gained popularity among the likes of other classic bands, such as The Who, The Faces, and Led Zeppelin.
From the beginning the Mobile Studio was quite experimental. It was the first fully fitted mobile multi-track studio, and could be adapted to whatever specifications the job required. When recording orchestral music for the Frank Zappa film "200 Motels", problems arose when the silver aluminum body kept showing up in the background of the film. The entire unit was then painted with a camouflage color scheme to hide it in the trees. It sported this look for many years to come.
Originally the unit supported a maximum of 20 microphones and had an 8-channel recording format. As the Mobile began to be used for live recording, the 8-channel format quickly proved insufficient and an upgrade to 16-track took place.
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