Sad to report another legend gone. Although you may have never heard of Richie Podolor, you’ve definitely HEARD Richie Podolor. What a history this guy had! He began making rockabilly records in the late 1950s under the name Dickie Podolor. He started his own recording studio, American Recording Studio, in 1959, and had a couple big hits with Sandy Nelson (“Teen Beat” and “Let There Be Drums”) that put him on the map. Under the stage name “Richie Allen,” Podolor cut a ton of really, really great surf instrumental records for Imperial in the early 1960s. As a session guitarist, Richie Podolor (and his partner, Bill Cooper) played on tons and tons of records—surf, pop, psychedelic, garage, girl group, hard rock—I’m not sure that a complete discography of sessions that Podolor and Cooper played on is even possible. The list would be a thousand pages long!
American Recording Studio, based on Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, became a hit-making studio beyond compare. For “my kind of people,” Podolor produced hit records like “Blues Theme” by Davie Allan and the Arrows, “Dirty Water” by the Standells, “Are You Gonna Be There (at the Love-In)” by the Chocolate Watchband, “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night” by the Electric Prunes, and tons more 1960s classics. Just listen to those records and you’ll hear how incredibly well-recorded they were. I have marveled endlessly on the quality of the recordings made at American—these guys really had their act together.
In the late 1960s, Podolor and Cooper hit their biggest stretch of success with a series of hits like “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf, and all of the huge hits recorded by Three Dog Night. The list of hit acts Podolor worked with just goes on and on: The Dillards, Iron Butterfly, Black Oak Arkansas, tons of heavy metal acts in the 1980s.
I really wanted to interview Richie. I tried for years. I could never break through that barrier that so many show business people have walled up around themselves. I’m crushed thinking that I’ll never be able to pick his brain about all these records he produced and played guitar on.
Even though you probably aren’t familiar with the name, raise a glass to all those great records he made. RIP Richie Podolor.