As recording studios go, there are very few that match the stature of Historic RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee.
The first thing you need to know about RCA Studio B? There’s no just turning up and walking through the front door. As you’d imagine, tours of this historic studio are incredibly popular so tickets are a must. The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museumoperate a limited number of studio tours daily and you’ll need to book both if you want access to the legendary RCA Studio B. And trust us… you do!
The tours generally run from 10.30am until 2.30pm, with one departure each hour. Tickets include a complimentary shuttle to the studio, meaning one less thing to worry about.
Hopping on the shuttle and a 5-minute drive later, we came to the area known as Music Row. The streets are quieter, and you certainly won’t find any neon signs or rooftop bars here. That’s the beauty of it though. Music Row is the beating heart of Nashville’s country music scene. The home of international record labels, radio stations and recording studios.
At first glance, RCA Studio B seems quite inconspicuous amongst its surroundings and you could be forgiven for passing it by, unaware of the significant impact the studio has had on musical history. From the outside it’s a monotonous, relatively small building perched on the corner of Music Square. Despite this, there was no escaping the excitement of knowing we were about to walk in the footsteps of musical greats. Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison. The list goes on and on.
A special tour
Stepping through the front door a sense of nostalgia hits, and instantly you know you’re in a special place. It’s at this point that we got our first insight into how influential and important RCA Studio B has been. The walls are covered with the images of iconic artists to have recorded here. At the same time, we’re listening to their legendary hits and the entire experience is starting to come alive.
The studio tour guide was with us throughout and was fantastic. The stories he told and the experiences he created were second to none. If you don’t know much about the studio, the artists or the ‘Nashville Sound’ before starting the tour; you certainly will after. We fell into this bracket, but quickly fell in love with the studio and its incredible history.
We make our way into the recording studio itself and take a seat. There’re not many rooms I’ve walked in to, where you can say nothing yet still experience so much. This is one of those magical places. We’re sitting in the same room Dolly Parton recorded ‘I will always love you’. In a room, with an original Steinway piano that hadn’t left since 1957. Elvis’ favourite piano. Where he had sat and performed numerous classic tracks over the years.
We found out that after the construction of RCA Studio A (which is located next door), Elvis was invited to record there. The studio was state-of-the-art for its time but following one session Elvis realised it was lacking that magical something. Regardless of new technologies, he just couldn’t recreate that authentic ‘Nashville Sound’. After that, he returned to the older Studio B and never looked back, recording over 200 songs along the way.
RCA Studio B has actually recorded over 35,000 songs over the years. Amongst these are 1000’s of American hits, all performed and recorded right between these four walls. It’s a pretty incredible feat when you think about it.
A memorable experience
The entire tour experience of Historic RCA Studio B took between 1-2 hours - including the time spent visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, we’d recommend allowing at least half a day to fit everything in. The museum is only a 5-minute walk from Lower Broadway where many renowned honky-tonk bars can be found, so very walkable.
Whilst you’re there, don’t forget to checkout Hatch Show Print too. It’s located inside the museum building and this print shop has been operating in Nashville for over 140 years. Certainly, another great experience to add on to your itinerary whilst you’re visiting Tennessee.