Celebrating the History of Detroit’s Iconic United Sound Systems Recording Studio

Jake Neher/WDET

Carleton Gholz, founder and executive director of the Detroit Sound Conservancy, which has been working to preserve United Sound Systems

Sitting at the corner of Second Avenue and Antoinette in Midtown, the United Sound Systems Recording Studio is without question a crucial piece of Detroit’s rich musical legacy. Iconic artists such as Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Aretha Franklin, Parliament and many others have all recorded at United Sound.

In the mid 2000s the studio shut down. It was eventually re-purchased and ultimately able to open its doors once again.

Despite its history, United Sound was in danger of being demolished because of a proposed expansion of the I-94 freeway. Over the past five years, the Detroit Sound Conservancy has worked closely with United’s owners to preserve the studio, get a historical district designation, and install a Michigan Historical Marker in front of the building.

This week they accomplished the last of those goals, and it appears the studio will stay standing — at least for the time being.

Carleton Gholz, founder and executive director of the Detroit Sound Conservancy, joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to discuss the history of the United Sound Recording Studio.

United was in the center of all this industrial work that was going on,” Gholz says. “United was central to that mid-century modern story.” 

Gholz says the site was not only a place for creating music. Radio advertisements, jingles, films, and television were also recorded there. 

There is an event this Sunday, June 25th at United Sound to celebrate the installation of the historical marker. 

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation. 

Gus Navarro/WDET

Image credit: Gus Navarro/WDET

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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