Photo: Adam sk

Legendary Sigma Sound Studio Founder + Engineer Joe Tarsia: Dead At 88

Often referred to as the man who “was the Sound of Philadelphia,” for his key role in establishing the lush, soulful sound of the 1970s and 80s, Joe Tarsia has passed away.

An integral part of countless all-time pop and soul classics, Tarsia was the founder and owner of the legendary Sigma Sound Studios, where so many Philadelphia International Records #1 hits by the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass and others were recorded. Known for its clarity of sound, Sigma, with Tarsia at the control boards, gave a new gravitas to soul music, or as fellow studio professional Tom Moulton (who posted an obituary on Facebook) said, “Joe gave Soul music the tuxedos to wear when the Philadelphia Sound was being created.”

Prior to becoming lead engineer at Philly’s fames Cameo Parkway Records in the early 1960s, Tarsia began his career as a service technician for recording studios . He took what he learned in his early years to open Sigma by the end of the decade, turning it into the “go to” recording studio for the PIR artists, as well as other pop and soul acts. He subsequently opened a location in New York City, which catered to the likes of Whitney Houston and Paul Simon.

As the turn of the millennium, Tarsia sold his studios, cut back on his recording and lecturing, and was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2016.

Joe Tarsia quietly changed the musical landscape in ways not fully understood or appreciated by the general public, but certainly appreciated by all of who’ve enjoyed the outstanding collection of great songs he was involved with.

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Author: Al Denté

Photo: Adam sk