Another Legendary Music Row Studio Preserved As A Recording Classroom

Columbia Records built Studio A on the site of an old boarding house where brothers Owen and Harold Bradley began their studio. During the Columbia years the Bradleys' Quonset Hut studio, immediately next door, was dubbed Studio B. Credit: Nina Cardona/WPLN

Columbia Records built Studio A on the site of an old boarding house where brothers Owen and Harold Bradley began their music company. During the Columbia years, the Bradleys’ Quonset Hut studio, immediately next door, was dubbed Studio B. Credit: Nina Cardona/WPLN

Columbia Studio A, where Jeannie C. Riley cut “Harper Valley PTA,” reopened Friday as a Belmont University classroom. The large room was converted to office space in the 80s; record executive Mike Curb made it an analog studio again and is renting it to the school for $1 a year, just like he did nearby with Owen Bradley’s Quonset Hut and RCA Studio B.

Singer Brenda Lee recorded all her hits in the Quonset Hut, but the entire property at 34 Music Square East feels like home to her. Standing in Studio A, she called the place "her school." Credit: Nina Cardona/WPLN

Singer Brenda Lee says the entire property at 34 Music Square East feels like “her school.” Credit: Nina Cardona/WPLN

Because it’s not digital, the students learning to record there will have to get things right or start all over–much like guitarist Charlie McCoy remembered having to do when he played with Bob Dylan right there in Studio A.

“We started recording at 4 o’clock the next morning, a 14 minute song called “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.” At 4 o’clock in the morning you’re saying, ‘please don’t let me make a mistake.”

McCoy played with Dylan in Studio A for three albums: Blonde On Blonde, John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline. He says those sessions certified Nashville as a recording center for people in genres other than country.

The crowd of session musicians, producers, songwriters and engineers gathered for the reopening nodded knowingly at McCoy’s comments. Curb followed them up with a request that the experienced talent who worked at Studio A in its heydey come back from time to time to show the college kids how it’s done.

Harold Bradley seemed energized by seeing the place where he and his brother began their business again used for making music. Bradley says it made him want to pick up a guitar right away. Credit: Nina Cardona/WPLN

Harold Bradley seemed energized by seeing the place where he and his brother began their business again used for making music. Bradley says it made him want to pick up a guitar right away. Credit: Nina Cardona/WPLN

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