Restoration of Rolling Stones’ Mobile Studio underway

An electronics engineer in Canada is in the process of restoring The Rolling Stones’ iconic Mobile Studio, which was used for the recording of Exile on Main St. and Sticky Fingers, CTV News has reported.

Originally built in 1968 to allow the group to record while on the move, the famous studio on wheels is being revamped in time for the launch of the new $168 million Studio Bell complex at the National Music Centre (NMC) in Calgary, which is set to open next spring.

Instead of creating something entirely new, the engineer, John Leimseder is aiming to retain as much as of the old setup as possible.

"We’re not trying to redesign anything. We’re trying to fix everything that’s broken," said Leimseider, who admitted it’s been a challenge to source some of the equipment needed to achieve the task, but also revealed that the Helios console is now approximately 95% functional.

According to Leimseder the studio, which was also used by Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and Deep Purple and was based outside New York venue CBGB for some time, is probably now worth around $1 million.

The vehicle itself has been undriveable for around 14 years, since the engine failed in Indiana during a trip from New York to the Canadian city. But once fully revived, two new recording studios at the NMC, as well as the stage of King Eddy, a 300-seat live music venue that will form part of the new complex, will be wired into the Mobile Studio.

"So somebody could be doing a live set at the King Eddy and have it recorded onto the truck that recorded Smoke on the Water. It think that’s so cool," Leimseider added.

"One of the nice things about restoring all this gear is the payoff when you get to hear (it) used for something new."