Although it may not look very impressive, this modest little building has a very impressive and important musical history. Welcome to RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. Known as "The Home of 1,000 Hits", more than 35,000 songs were brought to life by the Studio B magic, including more than 1,000 American hits, 40 million-selling singles, and over 200 Elvis Presley recordings.
Daily guided tours of the studio are offered by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Upon entry to the building, you are guided through hallways and rooms filled with pictures and displays describing the history of the recording studio (which can be seen in the below photos).
I can't even begin to describe what a great time I had and how awestruck I was listening to our guide list the names of just some of the accomplished artists in music history who recorded in the studio I was standing in, such as (to only name a few),
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Hank Snow, Waylon Jennings,
The Everly Brothers, Jim Reeves,
Roy Orbison, Don Gibson, Jim Ed Brown, Dottie West
and Elvis Presley.
As the tour continues, your guide entertains you with stories of some of the artists who recorded at the studio. For example, there was the day when Dolly Parton arrived at the studio for her very first recording session at Studio B, but poor Dolly was so nervous that when she pulled into a parking spot, she hit the gas pedal rather than the brake pedal and hit the side of the building. Apparently the crushed misshapen brick can still be seen. Another story example... Did you ever wonder why the Elvis hit "Are You Lonesome To-night" has to-night spelled that way, and not spelled as tonight? Long story short, the very first take was perfect until right at the end where Elvis sings "to...night" and the Jordanaires provide their backing vocals. Unfortunately, Elvis wasn't satisfied with how the ending of the song turned out, so they recorded another take, and another, and another, never quite getting a take that completely satisfied Elvis. Eventually the recording studio decided to use the very first take up until the end where Elvis sings "to...." then they spliced the song with the ending of another take with "...night" and voila, the perfect song, and hence the intentional spelling of to-night, with the dash indicating where the song had been spliced.
As you approach the entrance to the recording studio you see some of the original recording equipment the studio used.
Now you enter the recording studio, and I can only imagine the hard work, excitement, fun, and adrenaline that took place during the many recording sessions that happened here. I can imagine some of the artists trying to concentrate, knowing that outside the studio is surrounded by screaming fans. The lights you see on the ceiling were requested by Elvis, for he wanted different colored lighting to suit the type of songs he was singing, like red and green lights for Christmas songs, blue lighting for bluesy songs, and so on. The Steinway piano in the center of the studio is the original piano used by all the aforementioned recording artists. I have to admit it was quite a thrill when I got to play a few bars on it. The piano still sounds great, which is why the studio still uses it to this day.
As mentioned above, the studio is co-operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Belmont University's Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business program. Students use the facilities for classes learning the basic techniques of analog recording.
The National Park Service listed RCA Studio B on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
If you are a fan of the Nashville Sound and of some or all of the artists listed above and find yourself in the Nashville area, be sure to take some time to see the Country Music Hall of Fame, and especially RCA Studio B.