Dennis Dragon, 62, is reviving the Steve Miller Band recording studio in Williams and plans to offer internships and online programs for school and university classes. - Bob Pennell

Grammy winner resurrects Steve Miller studio in Williams

Williams resident and Grammy winner Dennis Dragon was born into a musical family and spent his adulthood performing and recording with musicians such as The Beach Boys and Natalie Cole.

Now 62, Dragon wants to share the musical knowledge he gained from a childhood with musical parents and a notable career as a musician, engineer and producer with students of music.

To that end, he recently founded the nonprofit Dragon Family Foundation for the Recording Arts and Sciences with the vision of providing internships and online programs for school and university classes to watch and learn about the recording process.

He will hold a meet-and-greet event at 6 tonight at the Pacifica botanic garden and natural learning center, 14615 Water Gap Road in Williams.

"I have a lot of musical knowledge as a musician and a technician, and it's time to give back," Dragon said. "It's not about me anymore. I have information that the youth can feed on. I'm trying to pass it on before it's lost, and it will be lost."

About a year ago he exchanged the faster pace of Southern California for the secluded rolling foothills of the Applegate Valley and started negotiations with Pacifica to lease the center's recording studio, formerly owned by the Steve Miller Band.

"I'm the kind of person who thinks if you build it they will come," Dragon said. "This place has been sitting here dormant, but everybody knows about it."

Since then, Dragon and his five-member board of directors have been working on gaining tax-exempt status and contacting schools and universities that might be interested in using the live recording sessions in music classes.

The foundation is seeking monetary and in-kind donations to launch the educational program. It also will earn revenue by leasing out the studio, doing recordings with professional musicians whom he hopes will also serve as mentors for students and organizing concerts and other fundraising events at Pacifica.

Musicians and arts enthusiasts can buy memberships in the foundation, which Dragon hopes will serve as a kind of association for musicians to swap ideas.

He and his partners have set up a collection of new and vintage recording equipment in the plush blue control room, formerly used as Pacifica's bridal changing room for its wedding venue.

"I've been in studios all over the world, and this is as good as it gets," Dragon said as he showed off the thick, sound-proof walls, one of which featured a photo of a younger Dragon with Lawrence Welk.

His vision is that classes would tune in on the Internet and watch live streaming video of recording sessions with professional musicians and engineers at Dragon's Williams studio.

Multiple cameras would focus on specific aspects of the recording process, so students could zoom in on their interest.

"Their instructor would draft the syllabus," said Pat Elton, one of Dragon's partners. "The only thing we would require is that the students develop a DVD at the end of the session."

During and after the recording session, students could ask questions of the musicians and engineers via an online chat.

One of the conditions of recording at the studio would be a willingness to interact with students, Dragon said.

"I envision once we are established we'll be contacted by bands," he said.

Pacifica is still waiting for Verizon to extend its fiber networks to the location. Until that happens, the foundation's streaming video capabilities could be limited.

Dragon is one of five children of Hollywood Bowl symphony conductor Carmen Dragon and soprano Eloise Dragon.

He played professionally as a drummer and percussionist, working with The Beach Boys, The Byrds and Rick Springfield.

In 1975, he won a Grammy Award for sound engineering on the Record of the Year, "Love Will Keep Us Together," performed by The Captain & Tennille.

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Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

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