Ben Folds, a composer, musician, and all-around nice person, issued a statement yesterday regarding the future of the historic RCA Studio A and its impending sale. Ben isn’t the only artist, producer, or engineer who finds this surprising. The final of four identical studios (the other three were in LA, Chicago, and New York) is now in risk of disappearing… at least temporarily.
According to reports, Tim Reynolds (not the musician) has reportedly sold the building to the commercial development firm Bravo Development, situated in Brentwood, Tennessee. Ben Folds, who has rented the space since 2003, has made a request to the authorities not to demolish the building since the future of the building is unknown. the structure, its history, and its location on Music Row in Nashville. The RCA Studios remain the cornerstone and beating heart of Music Row, despite the fact that it is no longer what it once was.
We don’t know what the objectives are because Reynolds frequently acquires and renovates buildings, but Studio A’s legacy is in jeopardy. Perhaps the group would wish to keep it. The problem at hand, though, is finding someone driven, perceptive, and respectful to maintain and manage it. Ben has utilized the studio as a shrine and as a place to make music rather than to make money. Many people are shocked by the news, which is best explained in a lengthy message that Folds posted on his social media pages.
Putting this out today in the hopes that someone would care:
My office learned last week—on June 20, 1924, Chet Atkins’ 90th birthday—that the iconic RCA Building on Music Row is about to be put up for sale. Atkins and Owen Bradley were responsible for the design and construction of this structure, which houses Nashville’s biggest vintage recording studio and the iconic Studio A. According to rumors, the potential buyer is Tim Reynolds’s Bravo Development, a commercial development firm with offices in Brentwood, Tennessee. What this means for the building’s future is unknown.
First of all, congratulations to the Atkins and Bradley estates and their heirs for making every effort to preserve the structure. They’ve held the land for all those years and have the option to lock it off or mow it down at any time. It is, regrettably, what occurs in the name of development. The history of Studio A, which will reach 50 years old next year, is extensive.
Here are just a few of the musicians that have achieved success:
Anika, Arlis Albritton, Peter Bradley Adams, Gary Allan, Brent Anderson, Asleep at the Wheel, The Brothers Osborne, Joe Bonamassa, Wade Bowen, Eden Brent, Jim Brickman, The Beach Boys, Rachel Bradshaw, The Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, Amy Black, Jason Blaine, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Beach Boys, Brentwood Benson, David Bullock, Laura, Amy Black, Jason Blaine The Canadian Tenors, Ken Burns, Bell Bundy, The City Harmonic, Brandy Clark, Brent Cobb, Jesse Colter, Elizabeth Cook, Wayne Coyne, Margaret Cho, Billy Currington, Matt Dame, Steve Earle, Danae, Ilse DeLange, Rebecca de la Torre, Steve Earle, The Fabulous Headliners, Steven Curtis Chapman, ESPN Alyssa Graham, Peter Groenwald, Harlan Pepper, Harper Blynn, Connie Harrington, Hunter Hayes, John Hiatt, Faith Hill, JT Hodges, Adam Hood, James House, Sierra Hull, Alan Jackson, Joe Jackson, Casey James, Jenny Jarnigan, Jewel, Jamey Johnson, Josh Jones, Kristin Kelly, KESHA, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Ben Folds, Sarah Gibson, Vince Gill, The Frog Sessions Meagan Lindsey, Frank Liddell, Lifeway, the Longmont All Stars Jazz Band, the Sun, Luella, and Lyle Lovette, the Nashville Symphony, Mike Posner, Sean McConnell, Scotty McCreery, Kate Miller Heidke, Ronnie Milsap, Miss Willie Brown, Allison Moorer, Kacey Musgraves, Musiq Soulchild, David Nail, Alan Parson, Rich Parkinson, Charlie Pate, Kellie Pickler, Pistol Annies, Pretty Lights, Joe Nichols, Sierra Noble, Natalie Noone, The Oakridge Boys, Jerrod Neimann, Willie Nelson The Robertson Family, Thomas Rhett, Rainfall, Johnny Reid, Jake Owen, Kate Schrock, Bob Seger, Sera B., Brian Setzer, Nikki Shannon, SHEDaisy, Jordyn Shellart, Joel Shewmake, Sleeping With Sirens, Jake Shimabukuro, Mike Shipp, Kevin Shirley, Anthony Smith, Joanna, Henry Rollins, Shannon Sanders, Jader Santos, Alejando Sanz, Mondo Saez, Kate Schrock, Bob Seger, Sera B., William Shatner, Smith, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Chelsea Staling, Steel Magnolia, Tate Stevens, Jay Stocker, Rayburn, Those Darlins, Josh Turner, Jeff Taylor, Justin Towns Earle, Josh Thompson, RockIt City, Ben Utecht, Phil Vassar, Venus and the Moon, Andy Victor, Amanda Watkins, Chuck Wicks, Hank Williams Jr., Williamson Country Youth Orchesta, Alicia Witt, Lee Ann Womack, Word Entertainment, and Charlie Worsham.
Prior to moving into the space 12 years ago as a tenant, I was unaware of the full magnitude of this magnificent studio’s past. Most of us are familiar with Studio B. When Atkins joined the RCA management team, he built Studio A, which was its more opulent younger brother. In order to lure worldwide performers to record in one of these four Putnam-designed RCA locations throughout the world, an orchestral chamber was constructed to record strings for Elvis Presley.
The other three identically sized RCA studios, which were constructed in LA, Chicago, and New York, have long since been abandoned. I lost count of the number of artists, producers, and engineers who have come into this room to share their memories of the greatest classical recordings.
produced here that made Nashville famous. I’ve heard stories about audio engineers who would roller skate around the room while Elvis was booked, about Eddy Arnold recording one of the first sessions in the space, during which one of the songs was “Make The World Go Away,” about Dolly Parton (Jolene), about The Monkees, and so on.
A session orchestra hired by Atkins, who was making a recording here for an artist, serenaded legendary songwriter John D. Loudermilk and his bride. They danced all the way to the loading doors and into their limo, he recalled, remembering the lovely floor tiles that still cover the whole area. He co-wrote the article. In this studio, Atkins and many others contributed to innumerable tracks.
Studio A is still a functioning, timely, and energetic environment today. These musicians and filmmakers, to mention a few, have recorded or produced work here in recent years:
the Beach Boys, Wayne Cohen, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson, Kellie Pickler, Hunter Hayes, Charlie Worsham, David Nail, Jamey Johnson, Joe Bonamassa, Word Music, Gary Allan, myself, and Ben Folds Five.
While Nashvillians might be happy of the general economic growth and success they are experiencing, they are also aware that this wealth is not always kind to historical sites or to the history and foundation upon which it was founded.
My reason for shelling out more than a million dollars on rent and improvements over the past 12 years was straightforward. With that amount of expenditure, I could have created my own space of the same dimensions. But as a musician, I have little interest in business or progress in general. In this historical location, I merely want to perform music and let others do the same. There isn’t a recording place like it elsewhere on the planet, and I’ve recorded all over the world. These recording studio walls were made to echo with sound. All I wanted to do was keep it going.
I have had discussions with other organizations about how we may work together to provide visitors to Music City to experience the location firsthand and learn about its fascinating past, while also ensuring that it is kept active in shaping future musical history. Who knows what will happen to that notion at this point?
I’d love to continue being the studio’s renter and caretaker out of selfishness. I adore it so much. My only wish is for it to survive undamaged if I have to let it go in the name of progress. When the late, great producer Phil Ramone was in town recording Tony Bennett and an orchestra LIVE at this location a few years ago, my co-manager Sharon Corbitt House made a pledge to him that she would do all in her power to keep the studio doors open. In Ramone’s I couldn’t bear to witness this amazing acoustic design’s final demise as I witnessed the former New York RCA studio turn into IRS offices.
So this is our starting point. There are too many reasons why such amazing economic prospects exist in Nashville in 2014 for the historic RCA Studio A to just vanish. Ideas and music served as the cornerstones on which Music City was constructed. What will Nashville look like in the future if we keep razing the area around Music Row that gave the city its unique identity? Who will ultimately want to construct brand-new condominiums in a location without a hub for creatives or thinkers?
The only city in the world that is actually constructed around music is Music City.
My only plea is that Tim Reynolds or whoever the property’s potential new owners are take a time to stand quietly between the imposing walls of RCA Studio A and absorb the history and echoes of the Nashville that changed the world before deciding what to do with the area. He and other developers are invited to hear firsthand from the people who worked here to create the numerous popular songs – the artists, musicians, engineers, producers, and authors who constructed this rich musical history note by note and brick by brick.
I’m not sure what effect my words will have on anything here. However, I felt compelled to share and exhort others to speak up if they share my concern for protecting our musical history.
I think it’s possible for development and tradition to coexist in harmony. Maybe we can at least try to make an effort this time.
Mine, Ben Folds