Located on historic Music Row, RCA’s Studio B is Nashville’s oldest recording studio and home to hits like Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely,” the Everly Brothers’ “Dream,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and 250 hits by Elvis Presley including “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
It was the long time recording home of popular music titans such as Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, the Everly Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, Dolly Parton, Jim Reeves, Willie Nelson, and Floyd Cramer among countless others. It is now a cultural landmark, where they offer daily tours of the facility, which is mostly untouched from old recording days. For many years, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Chet Atkins managed RCA’s Nashville operation and produced hundreds of hits in Studio B.
Built by Dan Maddox in 1957, RCA Studio B first became known as one of the cradles of the “Nashville Sound” in the 1960s. A sophisticated style characterized by background vocals and strings, the Nashville Sound both revived the popularity of country music and helped establish Nashville as an international recording center.
For music historians, Studio B has also been home to numerous innovations in recording practices, including the development of the “Nashville number system,” a musician’s shorthand for notating a song’s chord structure, which facilitates the creation of individual parts while retaining the integrity of the song.
First made available to Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum visitors in 1977, RCA Studio B was donated to the Museum by the late Dan and Margaret Maddox in 1992. It also serves as a classroom today for Nashville-area middle and high school students, learning the science of sound and recording technology. How cool is that?
Old relics remain throughout the facility and there’s so much history and interesting factoids, you are brought back in time to a musical wonderland and as you meander from room-to-room, it’s easy to imagine these country greats recording here so many years ago.
The coolest part of the tour is the room where Elvis did so many of his recordings. At one juncture, they turned off the lights so we could hear a recording that he recorded in pitch black decades ago, original crackling and all. And, of course there was his piano and who wouldn’t want to tinker on it if you knew how to play? Let’s just say I couldn’t resist.
RCA Studio B
1611 Roy Acuff Place
Nashville, TN 37246