In this installment of our series on famous studios, we take a look at Super Bear, which may be in the midst of a resurgence. By Jim Evans.
Situated in the delightful village of Berre-les-Alpes in the hills 23k north of Nice, Super Bear was opened by musician Damon Metrebian in 1977 with facilities designed and built by Tom Hidley and David Hawkins in a large building that was formerly an upmarket restaurant catering to the local worthies from Nice and Cannes. It rapidly became the destination studio of choice for a number of leading acts, notably Paul McCartney, Elton John and Pink Floyd who recorded much of The Wall there. Sadly, it fell victim to forest fire in 1986 and issues with the French insurers forced its closure. "They were wonderful times," says Metrebian. "It was a great place to live and work. I remember, for example, Jim Capaldi always used to record his vocals outside in the garden." Metrebian is planning to write a book based on the Super Bear years – you have all been warned!
The new Super Bear
August last year saw the launch of Super Bear Music, billed as a new indie record label with a prestigious heritage. A press release stated, "Owned and operated by Damon Metrebian, Super Bear Music represents a new beginning for the highly respected Super Bear brand he first steered to success in the recording industry from 1977 to 1986. A British outpost located on the French Riviera, Super Bear Studios offered a unique environment that inspired outstanding creativity. It quickly became one of the world's most popular residential recording studios frequented by the musical elite, including Pink Floyd (The Wall), Queen, Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Police and many other top-selling artists, composers and producers. Damon's aspirations for Super Bear Music are no less ambitious."
The PR continues, "Damon, 59, brings the same level of professionalism and youthful enthusiasm to Super Bear Music that, in the past, earned him numerous platinum and gold music industry awards.
"We are a small, but dynamic record label that wants to become the No.1 for electronic pop music," Damon calmly announces. "We have a clear vision for the label, but to make a success of any business requires knowhow, commitment, energy and perseverance, and we have bucket loads of that!" He goes on to confide, "Creating and managing Super Bear Studios was an incredibly satisfying period of my life. I had this vision of a home-from-home facility, in an idyllic location, that combined just the right amount of technology with a comfortable and truly relaxed environment."
He certainly had the right formula, because the facility was fully booked for six months in advance within weeks of opening – and continued to be for many years. "You don't have that kind of success by accident," Damon concludes. "Vision and timing are everything, and the time is right for Super Bear Music!" With a prestigious background like this, who would bet against Damon getting it right for a second time!"