Craig Williams’ Northbrook-based recording studio is closely linked to his love of rock n' roll. That love stretches back to Williams' youth in the mid 1960s, a time when his first band started cranking out Beatle-esque music in garages and basements in Michigan.
Almost half a century later, musicians seem to be blasting the same music in Williams' studio, though it is sounds a lot more polished now. The 59-year-old small business owner has been helping musicians produce, perfect, and, most recently promote, their recordings for 37 years.
William’s co-founded Dr. Caw Recording in 1975 with a friend, Dave Roberts, who was referred to as “doctor” because of his initials. Combining Roberts’ initials with those of Williams, they created “Dr. Caw.” It’s a name Williams has stuck with since buying out Roberts in 1991.
“I was better at recording than music,” Williams said. “It was like in school — if you get A’s in English and C’s in math, you stick with English.”
With the exception of the studios built into English castles by rock stars owners, in-home recording studios were uncommon when Dr. Caw was founded. But by choosing a location in Northbrook, Williams wasn’t competing with Chicago based studios. And he noticed that his recording-artist clients seemed to enjoy working in the more relaxed, suburban atmosphere.
Williams continued to work as a musician while running his studio during its early years. His most successful stint was in a band called Desmond, which regularly played the now defunct Chicago club Tuts, opened for U2 at the Park West during U2's first US Tour. Desmond’s drummer was Jeff Thomas, son of legendary WGN star and former Wilmette resident Frazier Thomas.
As for the recording side of his career, Williams clients included Chicago based groups such Jump ‘N the Saddle, best known for their song “The Curley Shuffle."
Williams worked with Styx as well, recording the group live and mixing the recordings in his Northbrook studio later. Lately, Williams has been helping Dr. Caw clients produce videos to promote their music on Youtube.
“If you want to move product, it’s the best marketing tool for music,” Williams said.
In recent years, Williams’ son, Graeme, who earned an audio degree at Columbia College, has made Dr. Caw a father and son business.