The Château d’Hérouville where David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Elton John, The Grateful Dead, The Sweet and Fleetwood Mac recorded is up for sale.
Located near the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, in France, the property is described as a coaching station, built in the 18th century, which includes 30-rooms, and 1,700m ² of living space.
The selling price is 1, 295, 000 Euros.
In 1962, composer Michel Magne purchased the property and developed it into a recording studio. Magne is best known for his Oscar win for Gigot.
Over the years, many different artists recorded at the Château. These included Gong (Camembert Electrique), Pink Floyd (Obscured by Clouds), Cat Stevens (Catch a Bull at Four), MC5 (“Thunder Express”), Uriah Heep (Sweet Freedom), Bad Company (Burnin’ Sky), Iggy Pop (The Idiot), The Bee Gees (“How Deep Is Your Love?” and “Staying Alive”), Rainbow (Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll) and Fleetwood Mac (Mirage).
The Château was particularly popular with British artists, starting with Elton John, who recorded three albums at the studios, Honky Chateau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player and Goodbye Yellowbrick Road. Elton suggested the studio to Marc Bolan where he recorded his 1972 album The Slider; and Bolan recommended it to David Bowie who record Pin-Ups in July 1973, and then Low in 1977.
But the Château wasn’t just known for its considerable musical pedigree. Producer Tony Visconti claimed star-crossed lovers Frederic Chopin and George Sand haunted the building—Chopin had trysted with Sand while living at the mansion. Bowie also noted the studio’s supernatural feel.
When asked about the ghosts Visconti told Uncut magazine in 1999:
I keep reviewing my feelings about the supernatural. There was certainly some strange energy in that Château. On the first day David took one look at the master bedroom and said, “I’m not sleeping in there!” He took the room next door. The master bedroom had a very dark corner, right next to the window, ironically, that seem to just suck light into it. It was colder in that corner too. I took the bedroom because I wanted to test my meditation abilities.
I never admitted this before. I had read that Buddhists in Tibet meditated all night in a graveyard to test their level of fear/no fear. Milarepa, the Tibetan saint, sat on his dead mother’s body all night and meditated. It felt like it was haunted as all fuck, but what could Frederic and George really do to me, scare me in French? I loved the look of the room so I decided to spend one night there. If something happened I planned to shout so loud I’d wake up the village.
Eno claims he was awakened early every morning with someone shaking his shoulder. When he opened his eyes no one was there.
According to Bowie-biographer, Paul Trynka, these ghostly goings-on have been dismissed by the Château’s staff:
‘The ghosts were in the echo chambers,’ says Laurent Thibault, ‘that’s where the noises came from.’
But on delving further, Trynka discovered that Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore had “similar experiences.”
...while at one Ouiji-board session, ghostly messages turned out to be rendered in perfect Polish—Chopin’s native tongue. In later years, the Château staff attempted to damp down widespread gossip about spectral presences, which persisted until the studio closed in the wake of owner Michel Magne’s suicide.
Artist Vincent Van Gogh made of paintings of the Château, and is buried in the nearby town Auvers-sur-Oise.
If this slice of pop history tickles your fancy, then check the details here.