Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is one of the most important places in American music history! Visitors can tour the famous recording studio used by legends like Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, and Linda Ronstadt. Any true music fan will enjoy a Muscle Shoals Sound Studio Tour!
What You Need To Know About The Tours
Finding Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is easy! It’s located at 3614 North Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Alabama. It doesn’t look like much from the road but it’s one of the most important buildings in music history! You can tour the studio throughout the year, Tuesday – Saturday. The guided tours begin on the half hour starting at 10:30AM with the last tour at 3:30PM.
Each tour of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio lasts about 30 minutes. You’ll learn a few fun facts about the studio and then you’ll have some free time to walk around and take photos.
The History of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
The Muscle Shoals “Swampers” became famous as studio musicians down the road at FAME. FAME was the original Muscle Shoals recording studio and the first to bring in artists from all over the country that wanted the unique sound the legendary musicians were known for. Artists like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Lou Rawls, Wilson Pickett, Duane Allman and countless others recorded music in their studios.
Eventually, The Swampers (Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, David Hood, and Jimmy Johnson) decided to open up their own studio and moved down the road a bit to Sheffield, Alabama. In 1969, they trademarked the phrase “The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section” and opened up their new studio in the tiny, unassuming building on Jackson Highway.
Over the years, The Swampers produced at least 50 hit singles in this new studio. The first hit was from artist R.B. Greeves called Take A Letter Maria. (The song hit #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and was certified Gold.) Other hit songs record at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio included Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger; Kodachrome by Paul Simon; Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones; and I’ll Take You There by The Staple Singers.
What You’ll See On A Tour of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
The studio itself is quite small and you’ll have access to see everything inside of it. The mixing board sits in a control room behind a large window that looks out into the main studio. Some of the original furniture (couches, chairs, etc) are still where they once sat during the studio’s heyday.
The instruments on display are mostly original as well. The piano, which is a focal point of the tour is probably the most significant item you’ll have the chance to see in person. This piano is where the song Free Bird, a huge hit for Lynyrd Skynyrd, was initially composed. It’s also the piano featured on Paul Simon’s Kodachrome. But its most famous notes are heard on Bob Seger’s hit song, Old Time Rock and Roll. The notable introduction of the song was not only played on that piano, it was also a mistake. It was never intended for the opening notes of that song to repeat a second time. Someone made an error in editing the tape after the session.
The bathroom at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is also a focal point. It was often used as an additional recording space for musicians. Keith Richards notably played guitar here while recording the hit song Brown Sugar. It’s also where he wrote the lyrics for their song Wild Horses.
The only notable difference in the studio is that the original shag carpet has been replaced.
What Does A Muscle Shoals Sound Studio Tour Cost?
Currently, the cost to tour Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is $20. The tour lasts about 30 minutes.
Do They Still Record At Muscle Shoals Sound Studio?
Yes! Artists still use the famous studio to record, mostly for its incredible acoustics.
If you are a true music lover, you will absolutely appreciate and enjoy a tour of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. If you were a fan of 70s music, especially if you lived through that decade, you absolutely must visit the studio where some of its biggest hit songs were recorded. It’s an unforgettable experience and a bucket list moment for many who come from around the world to say they’ve stood in one of America’s most important recording studios.