Crain's New York Official Logo. WSDG and John Storyk featured at the prestigious magazine.

By Jonathan LaMantia

John Storyk at Electric Lady Studios, Studio B. Featured at Crain's Magazine New York.

Storyk had never designed a recording studio before Hendrix tapped him. Photo by Buck Ennis

John Storyk Bio featured at Crains Business New York Magazine.Fresh out of college, John Storyk was waiting in line for ice cream on a summer day in 1968 when he inadvertently happened upon his big break.

As the new architect was killing time flipping through the pages of the East Village Other, an alternative newspaper, he saw an ad looking for a carpenter to design an experimental nightclub.

The club, Cerebrum, lasted only nine months, but it got write-ups in Time and New York before it closed, Storyk says. Through working there, he forged a connection with one of the club’s customers: Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix and record producer Eddie Kramer tapped the 22-year-old to convert the basement at 52 W. Eighth St. into a recording studio, even though he had no experience designing one.

“I instantly reminded them that I’d never actually been in a studio. I didn’t know anything about recording studios,” Storyk recalled. “And they said, ‘That’s OK.’ ”

He quit his day job doing architectural drafting and began to work on the project—which reportedly cost $1 million—full time. He took classes at Columbia and worked alongside an experienced acoustician in what he calls a self-designed internship in order to finish Electric Lady Studios.

“Jimi only got to use the studio for a few months and, of course, passed away,” Storyk said.

Now Storyk has designed the acoustics for more than 3,000 stadiums, arenas, houses of worship and home recording studios on five continents, including Jazz at Lincoln Center and Central Synagogue in Manhattan. He has designed studios for Todd Rundgren, Leon Russell and Bruce Springsteen.

His business accelerated after he met his third wife, Beth Walters, in 1987. Walters, a textile designer, installation engineer and carpenter at the Fashion Institute of Technology, became his business partner and helped grow Walters Storyk Design Group into an enterprise taking in more than $5 million in annual revenue in recent years.

WSDG has adapted to a changing clientele and now counts Spotify and podcast networks Audible, Gimlet and Stitcher among its clients.

Storyk has relinquished some power, recently selling about half the firm to five employees and gifting 1 percentage point of his stake to 10 staff members, keeping about 40%. After a career launched in part through serendipity, Storyk doesn’t want to leave his legacy to chance. “This is going to keep going after I stop,” he said. “I mean, one day I’ll stop.”

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