A DILAPIDATED French chateau used as a recording studio by the legends of British pop is up for sale – but don’t expect any bids from David Bowie… he swears it’s haunted.
The ghost in question is thought to be that of composer Frederic Chopin. Maybe he objected to the rafters of the Château d’Hérouville vibrating to the music of punk rockers Sham 69? He may have approved of Elton John rattling out Goodbye Yellow Brick Road there for his 1972 album Honky Chateau, named after the surroundings.
But Bowie felt “supernatural energy” when he recorded Pin Ups in 1973 and later returned for the Low album. The floodgates then opened to the likes of Uriah Heep, Canned Heat, Rick Wakeman, Iggy Pop, the Bee Gees, Marvin Gaye, Fleetwood Mac and T Rex during the 1970s and early 1980s.
Now, after years of neglect, the chateau in the Val d’Oise region, 32km north of Paris, is for sale for £1.12 million (R17m). Built in 1740, it was painted by Vincent van Gogh and became famous thanks to French film composer Michel Magne, who bought it in 1962.
He transformed the building into a grand home with 30 rooms, a swimming pool and tennis court in 17 000 hectares of parkland.
But he built a personal recording studio with such amazing acoustic qualities that it quickly became the talk of musicians around the world.
It opened as a residential recording studio, nicknamed Strawberry Studios, with stateof-the-art recording equipment.
One of the chateau’s musical highlights was an impromptu Grateful Dead concert in June 1971. The late Jerry Garcia, the band’s lead guitarist, said: “We played and the people came – the chief of police, the fire department, just everybody. It was an event and everybody just had a hell of a time – got drunk, fell in the pool. It was great.”
During a three-month stay at the chateau, Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks asked that her bedroom be painted pink. Bowie stayed there with musician and producer Tony Visconti and Brian Eno.
Visconti said: “There was certainly some strange energy in that chateau.
“On the first day, David took one look at the master bedroom and said: ‘I’m not sleeping in there’.”
Eno claimed to have been awoken every morning by someone shaking his shoulder, but when he opened his eyes, no one was there.
Magne sold the property in 1979 and the new owners allowed the recording studio to remain while pursuing plans to convert the chateau into luxury flats. It has been mostly empty for 28 years. – Daily Mail