Last weekend I visited Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. Above is a hidden bar accessed via a panelling cut-out. The county was dry back in the day, so it had to be hidden. Twenty-mile drive to the Tennessee state line for restocking. That’s an old video player on the counter for, um, “films.” Original furnshings. The picture on the wall is of Jerry Wexler and Willie Nelson. Some huge talent relaxed in that little room, along with the Swampers, of course. I still find it very funny that musicians came from all over the planet to work with those “black musicians” who played on Staples Singers and Wilson Pickett (and 100 others) records, just to find four white guys who looked like they worked at the local Tractor Supply.
An interesing fact (of many) about that dumpy little building: it’s slightly twisted. No parallel surfaces, so no standing waves. You can place a mike pretty much anywhere without issues.
The tour guide was knowledgeable. Unlike a few years ago when I toured nearby Fame Studios (where the Swampers worked for Rick Hall before striking out on their own). The guide was a young ignoramus whom I tormented with corrections and questions. Sorry, but if I’m paying for a tour, the guide should know more about the place than I do.
4 Replies to “Secret Bar of the Stars”
That poor guide never had a chance.
Well, he was a bit arrogant and condescending at first, which initially didn’t really bother me. That’s standard for music geeks. But as his ignorance became apparent , his arrogance made it all the more rewarding for me to stick in the knife and twist it for a while. I sensed that the other guests were getting uncomfortable, so I desisted for a time. But later he claimed that the Rolling Stones recorded there, so I had to call him out on that. They recorded at MSSS, not Fame.
This is where you tell us if the Muscle Shoals documentary is a must-see.
Yes, the Muscle Shoals documentary is a must-see.
Fun fact: the Stones recorded “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses” and “You Gotta Move” at MSSS right before flying to the west coast to play the infamous Altamont show.