These tape machines were mounted in
racks. If you failed to tighten the hold-down knob properly
the reel could let loose during a fast wind. Fortunately the
acetate-based tape we used at the time would cleanly break and not
stretch. If, however, the tape was going fast enough, there could be
several little pieces. The "repair" was to splice the tape
back together using splicing tape. Even if it wound up to be
in little pieces, it still could be put back together with splicing
The master recordings, when I first
started engineering, were 3 tracks and the tape had a width of 1/2
inch. Berry Gordy had a master recorder and a mixer installed in his
office and could record or mix without going down to the studio.
In early 1964, Berry was producing the Temptations first gold record,
The Way You Do The Things You Do. He decided to dub the vocals
in his office. He got the group in his office and they did the
vocals for the tune. The recording went well, and then it happened.
Berry pushed the stop button on the
tape machine while the tape was quickly moving and a tape loop formed
and SNAP. Twenty little pieces of tape all over the floor.
Berry calmly asked every one to leave
the office and he locked the door. For the entire afternoon
Berry was crawling around the floor finding all the little pieces of
tape, carefully fitting them together and taping them together with
splicing tape. It worked, and the repaired tape was mixed to make a
number one record for the Temptations. Berry also, for some
reason, stopped doing vocal overdubs in his office.