Pioneering Recording Studio Recreated in Nashville

[Editor’s Note: While this story doesn’t have a direct connection to Bluegrass Music, the relationship between Country, Rock-a-Billy and Bluegrass are so often intermingled that we felt this story warranted posting here.]

LEGENDARY RECORDING STUDIO LOGO  - NORMAN PETTY, CLOVIS, NMA very special open house set for Nov. 2 (12— 7 p.m.) at 16 Ton Studio will introduce Norman Petty Recording Studio-Nashville, to scores of Music City professionals.
For nearly two years, Danny White, owner of the popular Music Row Studio, (located at 1008 16th Avenue South) has been working with Ken Broad and Lyle Walker of the Norman Petty Estate to bring something truly unique to Nashville.

"In little old Clovis, New Mexico, Norman Petty created one of the greatest recording studios in the world in the early 1950's." White says. "If you've heard the music of Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Buddy Knox and The Fireballs, you've heard the work of Norman Petty. Even an 18-year-old kid named Mike Curb made his first commercial recording at the Petty Studio with The Crickets in 1965."

Walker, representative of the estate reflects: "For a long time, Ken and I have wanted to put together a vintage recording studio. We thought the idea of putting a significant selection of recording equipment and microphones that Norman used to cut all those rock n' roll classics with Buddy Holly and others would be a great tribute. Nashville was the natural fit considering Norman's influence on the city and 16 Ton was the right place to put the room."

NORMAN PETTY STUDIO CLICK LINK: http://www.superoldies.com/pettystudios/history1.htmlThe new room will be primarily based on the equipment of Norman Petty but will also house standout pieces from Nashville's iconic RCA Studio B.  Specifically, the custom-built, Chet Atkins-ordered, API console and monitors installed in the mix room at Studio B and used on records by artists ranging from Waylon Jennings to Elvis Presley.

"I don't find it. This stuff finds me!" White laughs when asked about rescuing, restoring and repairing the equipment. "It's just as much about a quest for preservation as it is about using this equipment to make great recordings. This town is all about great songs, talented songwriters and fantastic musicians. Those 3 elements made Nashville famous. No piece of gear can make you sound like Buddy Holly or Elvis. However, being able to use a great old German microphone, a piece of tube gear or an old tape machine can be as inspiring as playing a pre-war Martin D-28."

The new Petty room (Studio 2) will be a formidable addition to the 16 Ton facility but White wants everyone to know that  Studio 1, known around the world for its one-off tube based Dymaxion console will not be changed. "The Petty room will offer a completely different recording experience." White laughs. "It will be a lot like jumping in the Delorean from, 'Back to The Future,' setting the destination for the 1958-1970 recording era and letting the flux capacitor rip!"

For the last three decades, the original Petty Studio in Clovis, New Mexico, circa 1953, which is now a museum and still remarkably intact, has been curated faithfully by estate representative Ken Broad. Fans of classic rock n' roll from around the world have made the pilgrimage to Clovis to experience where such rock standards as "Party   Doll," "Sugarshack," "Peggy Sue," "That'll Be The Day," "Maybe Baby," "Not Fade Away" and scores of others were created.

"Norman's recording techniques and audio mastery were far ahead of the time. It's astonishing," Broad reflects, sitting beside Buddy Holly's Ampex 401A tape machine. "Without the music that was created in Clovis, groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones would never have had the influence, that as it turned out, was a very large part of their early success."

“This has been a whole load to tackle,” White says.  “Just the reverse engineering that we had to do on Norman's recording console was daunting. The last time most of this equipment had been used was 1969 when the 7th Street Studio closed operations and Norman built a new studio downtown. This room will be a great addition to the musical fabric of Nashville. Without the commitment from Ken and Lyle it wouldn't have happened. I'm just the guy who put all the parts together and built the room."

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