SHEFFIELD, Alabama – Alabama music lovers have an opportunity this weekend to see the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in its original form before California-based Beats Electronics transforms the building into a fully-functioning recording studio.
The Muscle Shoals Music Foundation purchased the facility in June 2013. A few months later, Beats Electronics announced it would allocate proceeds from all Beats products sold from Nov. 29 to Dec. 25 to restore the studio in "an effort to preserve the rich history and culture that is represents," according to a news release.
Bonnie Bak, marketing director for the foundation, said they opened up the studio for three days in early March the same weekend as the Alabama Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony. More than 700 local and out-of-town music fans toured the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Most of them have such a connection in a real way to the studio," Bak said. "They either worked there, have lived here their whole life or they just have this connection with the music. They want to come see all of it."
The studio, which is on 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, will be open for walk-through tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a $5 donation to the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation. T-shirts will also be available for purchase.
Bak said Beats Electronics, which is investing between $700,000 and $1 million in renovations, plans to kick off the restoration process this fall.
Built in 1945, the iconic structure operated as a recording studio from 1969-79 and saw during its reign hundreds of established musical artists, including The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Percy Sledge, Art Garfunkel and more.
Beats Electronics, co-founded by hip hop icon Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine, will also use proceeds to renovate FAME Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals.
Frequented recently by artists like Alicia Keys and Band of Horses, FAME Recording Studio recorded soul-defining classics, such as "Mustang Sally," "I'd Rather Go Blind," and "Funky Broadway." The Muscle Shoals Sound Studio went on to produce "Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones, "Kodachrome" by Paul Simon and "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger.
"Too many of America's greatest recording studios are falling into commercial disrepair or falling prey to the pressures of real estate development," said Beats president Luke Wood in a statement. "We are extremely happy that we can leverage Beats' success to help return Muscle Shoals to a level befitting its rich history and create a program that will provide the next generation of great producers, engineers and recording artists with access to free studio time and the opportunity to learn the trade from experienced recording professionals, and we are especially pleased to launch this project during the holiday season."
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