The Spooky Truth About The Mansion Recording Studio

Music producer Rick Rubin's Mansion recording studio has been one of the many eerie locations where rock musicians have chosen to record over the years. A few, like Black Sabbath, have famously resided in spooky castles while cutting their albums, but the Mansion was definitely the most popular. Some of the best rock albums to come out of the past few decades were recorded within its walls. Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded the album that shot them to the high of their career, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, at the Mansion. System of a Down recorded Hypnotize there. Linkin Park cut Minutes to Midnight at the studio. Slayer, Marilyn Manson, Maroon 5, Audioslave and so many others have called the Mansion home while they laid down tracks, according to Rock and Roll Roadmap.

The 1918 Laurel Canyon mansion is a popular stop for rock and roll sight-seers exploring LA, and it's popular for reasons beyond the music industry as well. The Mansion is said to be home to spiritual entities, and many of those who've spent time at the studio have left with ghost stories to tell.

A little about the Mansion

Most "haunted" places can be traced back to some tragic event that took place at the location, or, like many others, the creepy vibes of a place can be the catalyst for rumors spread and tales spun. It's hard to tell which came first for the Mansion, but many claim the house has been haunted since it was built in 1918. Chances are that's not the case, since the original house burned down and was rebuilt in the '50s, according to Artist Waves. It's also rumored that magician extraordinaire Harry Houdini once lived in this ten-room Laurel Canyon estate, but Vogue says those rumors aren't quite true. Houdini lived in a guest cottage on the grounds for a time, but, as Houdini Estate says, his widow lived in the Mansion after Houdini's death and once threw a famous party at the house that hosted 500 magicians. They also mention that Houdini, famous as an escape artist (including underwater, as Biography reports), used to practice stunts in the Mansion's pool, which is a cool selling point.

The home-turned-recording studio has recently become a home once again. Rick Rubin sold the Mansion to filmmaker Mark Romanek just a few years ago, but that doesn't erase the rock and roll history of the place.

The legend behind the hauntings

The legend behind the house, as explained by Weird California, goes a little something like this: The house was once owned by a wealthy man who had a son. During a lavish party, the son, on a balcony 30 feet above the ground, got into a spat with his lover, and pushed him, sending the other boy over the edge. The boy died from the fall. The father spent through his fortune helping his son avoid a prison sentence. From then on, the house was cursed. When Houdini moved into the guest house, it's said that his wife would hold seances (something The Guardian says she was known for) to commune with the spirits of the house.

That's only one of the many stories perpetuated about the Mansion over the years. Oh, but there are others. As Fader points out, there are numerous tunnels that run under the area, including under the Mansion itself. During the days of Prohibition (1920-33), these tunnels were used by a bootleg liquor operation to transport their liquid goods to the house for wealthy buyers. Honestly, Prohibition might be the most logical origin for these ghosts since the claims typically have the specters dressed in fancy clothes with seemingly non-malevolent personalities.

Rick Rubin's publicist had a 'freaky' encounter

As we've all seen on paranormal television shows like Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures, the majority of "hauntings" tend to produce small phenomena. Doors open on their own, a chair moves a few inches, orbs that could very well be light reflecting off dust particles, that sort of thing. Full-blown apparitions are rare for the most part, but that's not so at the Mansion. Several people have reported seeing ethereal spirits moving about the house, including Rick Rubin's publicist.

The incident happened while System of a Down was visiting the Mansion to record Hypnotize. Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald, Rubin's publicist, had shown up before anyone else had gotten there that day, according to Fader. She had numerous interviews and photo shoots to set up for, and she wanted to get an early start. She sat down in the Mansion's spacious dining room, her back to a spiral staircase. And sensed ... something. The sensation grew until she thought someone was standing right at her back. The publicist turned but saw nothing until she twisted back around. Walking down the staircase in front of her was a woman in white. Her dress flowed in a non-existent breeze. The woman then paused for a second before walking back up the stairs and disappearing.

Robinson-Fitzgerald says the incident wasn't bad by any means, but "It was freaky."

Bands have had their own experiences there

The number of people who've had ghostly/ghastly encounters at Rubin's recording studio isn't easy to pin down, but we know it's more than a few, and some of them are pretty famous. While recording Vol 3 (Subliminal Verses), for example, Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor ran into one of the entities allegedly inhabiting the Mansion. He was in the shower, from what he says in his book, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven, while his room at the Mansion was locked. All wet and sudsy, the guy looks up and locks eyes with the apparition of a man wearing a tuxedo walking across his room.

During the Red Hot Chili Peppers' stay for the recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magik – during which the band believes they caught a spirit on camera — guitarist John Frusciante had a wild (and exotic) experience with a spirit. The musician tells Interview Magazine (found via Rolling Stone) that he heard the sounds of a ghostly woman engaged in sexual activity.

While staying at the Mansion in 2003, The Mars Volta, a rock band of lesser fame, saw several doors opening on their own, according to Kerrang!. That phenomenon has been reported by other musicians as well, such as Slipknot's Joey Jordison.

Maybe the Mansion has been an elaborate Hollywood hoax. Maybe it's haunted enough to turn skeptics into believers. Maybe.