The former saxophonist, band leader and recording studio owner founded Archway Studios in 1965. Over the years hundreds of blues, gospel and R & B musicians recorded in the first black owned studio located in the 4500 block of Natural Bridge.
Sain passed away in 2003 and his widow Ruby has been trying to turn the former studio into a museum or learning annex for young musicians or those wanting to take up an instrument.
She made the discovery when she stopped by the location this week and found vandals had stolen hundreds of dollars worth of copper piping and musical instruments, including some of Sain’s beloved saxophones.
“He would be very hurt because Oliver was a giving person,” says Ruby Sain,widow of the late Oliver Sain. “He would be very very hurt and disappointed.”
“Coming through that studio was some of the greats like Johnie Johnson, Fontella Bass and Ike and Tina Turner and then also some of the early rock and roll guys in the 1970′s and 80′s who recorded over the years,” says Jeremy Siegel-Moss, Vice President of the St. Louis Blues Society. “It’s just really sad to see the building fall into disrepair and then get robbed.”
For the time being, the St. Louis Blues Society is donating some money to get the building secured and working with Sain’s widow to determine it’s future. They estimate the damages to repair the facility could cost as much as 100-thousand.
“I think Oliver would say this is just a downright rotten and dirty shame,” says Tom “Papa” Ray, a St. Louis fixture on the blues scene and longtime friend of Oliver Sain.