Music fans and preservationists have a reason to celebrate after Nashville's Studio A, part of the city's famed Music Row, was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. Built by Chet Atkins in 1965 when he was looking to record string parts for an Elvis gospel album, the studio was specifically designed to accommodate larger groups. Longtime tenant Ben Folds once fit the entire Nashville Symphony inside. The space has hosted famed recording sessions by legends such as Presley, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and the Beach Boys, as well as current country stars such as Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert. Unlike sibling Studio B, which closed in 1977 and is now a tourist attraction, Studio A is still being used to this day.
Ben Folds discussing the history of Studio A.
Little more than a year ago, a developer had purchased the property for roughly $4 million, with plans to convert it into condos and a music-themed restaurant. Folds, whose open letter bemoaning the fate of the building sparked a campaign to preserve the studio, was vindicated when, shortly after the developer purchased the property, philanthropist and preservationist Aubrey Preston made a successful offer to buy the studio for $5.6 million, then announced he was teaming up with Curb Records founder Mike Curb and Tennessee philanthropists Chuck Elcan to manage it. Curb, an active preservationist on Nashville's Music Row, had already saved Studio B next door, as well as Columbia Studio A and the Quonset Hut, and Preston recently announced plans for a new music tourism intiative called the Americana Music Triangle, suggesting the studio's original purpose will be preserved.
According to Preston, the designation "sets the table" for more protection or permanent landmark status for the building. While the ownership group is still finalizing plans, Preston says they have agreed to hold a public open house in the building on October 3. Currently, an array of musicians are working in the RCA Studios complex, including Steve Cropper, a guitarist and member of Booker T & the M.G.'s, the famed Stax Records house band that recorded music for legends such as Otis Redding.
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