RCA Studio B
Historic RCA Studio B was the original recording home of Elvis Presley and has been used by dozens of country and folk music stars such as the Everly Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson. In 2002, the Mike Curb Family Foundation purchased the building, renovated and restored it back to its appearance in the 1970s, and then granted the Country Music Hall of Fame a perpetual lease of the building so that they could operate tours of the studio for the public.
Backstory and Context
In 1957 RCA Records signed a long-term lease for a building on the corner of Hawkins Street and 17th Avenue South and converted it into a music recording studio. RCA had previously operated a studio on McGavock Street, but the producers complained of the structure’s poor acoustics. The new studio was in a concrete block building that had been built that same year by local entrepreneur Dan Maddox. It was the second major recording studio to open on Music Row, after the Bradleys opened their Quonset Hut studio in 1954. RCA eventually named it Studio B, following the creation of Studio A in 1965.
Studio B quickly found success recording for a plethora of local and nationally-acclaimed musicians in genres such as country, rockabilly, and gospel. Between 1957 and its closure in 1977 the studio hosted 35,000 recording sessions. It was so prolific in churning out hit songs that the studio was nicknamed the “home of 1,000 hits.” Notable musicians who recorded at the studio include Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Jim Reeves, Willie Nelson, Eddy Arnold, the Browns, the Everly Brothers, and Chet Atkins, who was also one of its managers. Its greatest success was Elvis Presley who used the studio frequently for thirteen years and recorded over 230 songs, including hits such as “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “I Got Stung,” and “It’s Now or Never.” Often he would play on a Steinway piano, which remains in the studio today.
RCA Records closed all of its Nashville studios in 1977 after a dispute with the local engineers’ union. Soon afterwards Dan Maddox, who still owned Studio B, allowed the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to start bringing visitors inside for tours. In 1993 the Maddox family formally donated the studio to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. At the same time, RCA donated some of the old equipment it had used at the studio. Musicians started recording again at Studio B on an irregular, case-by-case basis in the 1990s, and it continues to this day. In 2002 the Mike Curb Family Foundation, known for working to preserve and restore buildings on Music Row, purchase the studio and promptly leased it back to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in perpetuity for $1. Today Studio B is open for guided tours daily through the Country Music Hall of Fame. The facilities are also used to teach many school students the fundamentals of music production.
“History.” Historic RCA Studio B. Accessed August 12, 2018. https://studiob.org/about/history
Robison, Julie, Tara Mitchell, and John Rumble. “RCA Studio B.” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. 2012. Accessed August 12, 2018. https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/weekly_features/2012/RCA_Studio_B.pdf
Scott, Kat and David Scott. “History in the walls of old Nashville recording studio.” News and Tribune. December 18, 2016. Accessed August 12, 2018. http://www.newsandtribune.com/news/history-in-the-walls-of-old-nashville-recording-studio/article_0aace9b2-c568-11e6-8f78-af3cdecfc058.html
Thanki, Juli. “Historic RCA Studio B, ‘home of 1,000 hits,’ turns 60.” Tennessean. October 27, 2017. Accessed August 12, 2018. https://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/2017/10/27/historic-rca-studio-b-nashville-home-1000-hits-turns-60/791157001/