We are all reeling from the news that Fran Manzella died unexpectedly last Friday. Fran was so liked and respected by all of us at Sterling and he played a huge role in the success of our Chelsea facility. Below are some thoughts those of us who worked with him most closely.
“Fran did a wonderful job on our Chelsea studios. I pretty much lived in that room for 20 years and never tired of the wonderful noises that would happen in there. When you spend so much time intimately involved with an environment that you use to help refine your craft, it almost becomes a living entity. When our lease was up and it was time to move, it was almost like losing a loved one. I remember during my last session, the somewhat painful realization that I’d never hear the room again. Actually got a little choked up. Fran’s skills were appreciated the world over and will be missed. But the studio world is all the better for his contributions.” Ted Jensen
“What a tragic loss for the recording community. Fran was such an intense force, always with massive enthusiasm for getting it right, and pleasing the ears of the folks working in his rooms. I had the pleasure of working in a Fran Manzella room for nearly 20 years, and the great pleasure for playing mixes for clients who, invariable, would say “I guess this is the best it will ever sound”. I totally agreed. My deepest sympathy goes out to his friends and family at this astonishing loss.” Greg Calbi
“We had a magic 20 years in Fran’s house; this is such a sudden & tragic loss.” Barry Wolifson
I had the great good fortune to meet Fran in 1992 just after we had started Absolute Audio. Fran attended a session for a Sonny Sharrock record he had mixed and we struck up a friendship. The following year when he heard we were getting kicked out of our space, Fran pitched us on hiring him as a designer (at that time he had only designed one other studio). We took him up on it and changed our fortunes forever. With the most threadbare budget, using the buildings contractor, Fran designed and oversaw the construction of two mastering studios that were by any standard incredible. In 1997 when the deal to buy Sterling was afoot, Fran was heavily involved behind the scenes evaluating spaces and doing preliminary designs. He went on to design our Chelsea studios and so much of the credit for the incredible twenty-year run goes to him. From the early 2000’s to now Fran was firmly established as one of world’s most prolific and respected studio designers, winning multiple TEC awards. I never heard of a project Fran designed where the client wasn’t thrilled with the outcome. Fran was always the same; warm, engaged, intense, pragmatic, direct and he loved to laugh. I’m heartbroken for his wife and daughters, but grateful for the many years of friendship and wonderful shared experiences. Murat Aktar