The year was 1968. The Rolling Stones were making hits, taking psychotropics by the British stone, and generally saturating themselves with the full-on excesses that subsequent rock bands have come to know and love. And so it’s not surprising that in the midst of all this, the thought of a 9-5 slog in a regular studio setting made Jagger’s lips all pouty. The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio was born.
Sneering at the normalcy of a Commer van or some such locally produced nonsense, the Stones sensibly built their studio on a DAF chassis. The internetz are a little sparse on photos of the Mobile Studio, so that’s the best image I could find of the truck itself. Then they pulled together a bunch of top music production boffins and told them to outfit a sensibly excessive arrangement for mobile recording. Originally capable of handling 20 microphones, 8-channel recording, and at least several groupies, the modular and highly experimental van was continually changed and upgraded. At one point, Frank Zappa painted it in full camouflage and hid it in the trees, so as not to disturb the filming of “200 Motels” – a predictably insane and nonsensical film, given the creator.
While there’s no evidence that anyone was molested with a shark inside, it did record most of Led Zepplin’s III and IV albums, the Stones’ Exile on Main Street which included the track “Stop Breaking Down” (a reference to DAF’s legendary quality?), and was almost burned in the famous casino fire that inspired Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” That makes for possibly the highest concentration of ROCK ever channeled through a DAF truck. It currently resides in Calgary, Alberta, for reasons that are not entirely clear.