Jerry Soto dies at 53; recorded name artists and bands and made fledgling artists feel like stars


A self-taught musician with perfect pitch, Jerry Soto specialized in music recording for celebrities to fledgling artists. “He could do everything,” said Tim Powell of Metro Mobile.

Mr. Soto, founder/owner for 27 years of Soto Sound Studio, died last week in his Palatine apartment of an apparent heart attack. He was 53.

“Jerry was the most generous of souls,” said Hank Neuberger of Third Wave productions. “He was totally devoted to his clients. He was the kind of guy who didn’t just go that extra mile?he’d go those extra 10 miles.”

Besides recording name artists and bands, “Jerry provided a unique service to fledgling artists?the guy would be a rapper, a rocker, or someone who just had an idea?and Jerry would treat him like a star. He’d write the music, get the musicians, and engineer the session,” Powell recalled.

“We called these the ?Monday morning calls,’ from guys who’d say, ?this is the day I want to start my career, help me.’ I’d say, ?call Jerry Soto.’ Later they’d call and ?thank you for turning me on to Jerry. I’m so happy with the product,'” Powell related.

The loss of Mr. Soto leaves a big hole that won’t be filled, Powell added. “A lot of studios aren’t interested, or don’t have the multi-faceted skills he had.”

Friend/musician Alex Ruiz said Mr. Soto was very proud of his Palatine studio that he moved to after losing the lease on his long-time Evanston site.

The Palatine studio was much bigger with state-of-the-art equipment than Evanston, which Ruiz called “tiny, a reconstructed garage almost.”

Despite the size “everybody and their second cousin recorded there?from celebrities to people just starting out.

“Jerry was willing to teach anybody what he knew. He had a great sense of humor, a great laugh. I never saw him get upset. He worked so hard; that was his claim to fame,” said Ruiz, office manager for Jay B. Ross’ law firm.

Mr. Soto was a co-founder and strong supporter of EARS (Engingeering and Recording Society) in the early ?90s. He belonged to ASCAP, and to NARAS, serving on its board of governors 1992-1995.

Among the artists he recorded were Buddy Guy, musicians Eddie “The Chief” Clearwater, Lefty Dizz and Carey Bell, jazz saxophonist Fred Anderson and Peter Tork, formerly of the Monkees.

Born in New York, Mr. Soto moved to Evanston while in junior high school and graduated from Evanston Township High School. After studying at Oakton Community College and a Palatine music school for a couple of years, he opened his own studio.

He is survived by his mother, three daughters, four grandchildren, a sister and two brothers.

A celebration of Mr. Soto’s life will be held Aug. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Donnellan Family Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Blvd. at Old Orchard Road, Skokie. Burial is private.

  • Phil Scopes

    I was thinking about Jerry Soto because back in 1986, I recorded a song in his Evanston facility when I was only 16 about a girl I knew in grammar school and high school. I met up with her last week and brought up the song on my phone after almost 32 years, and it was so thrilling to bring it out after so long. Although I haven’t had a hit record and had more success as a computer programmer, I credit my musical creativity to Soto, having shown me how music is produced professionally and he led me to write even better music over the years.

  • Jessica

    Anyone know of any way to get recorded tracks? My husband recorded with Jerry and said he was unable to get his tracks after he had passed.