Named Alabama's No. 1 tourist stop of 2017 by the Alabama Tourism Department, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio has undergone an extensive renovation, funded in part by Beats Electronics, and is open for tours.
Located in northwestern Alabama in Sheffield, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was once a sought-after recording location for some of the world's best-known musical acts. The building fell into disrepair years ago after being used for other things, including an appliance store. Inspired by the 2013 documentary "Muscle Shoals," officials from Beats Electronics provided nearly $1 million to renovate the studio. The main studio has been revamped with a 1970s feel that includes bright colors, retro chairs and a metal ashtray and vintage recording equipment fills the production booth.
Built around 1946, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It opened as a studio in 1969 after a group of local musicians known as "The Swampers" (David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Roger Hawkins and Barry Beckett) broke away from nearby FAME Recording Studios, another recording landmark. From 1969 to 1978, artists from all over the world traveled here to record, including Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Willie Nelson, Percy Sledge, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Rolling Stones recorded "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses" here for their "Sticky Fingers" album. The building became known widely as 3614 Jackson Highway after Cher titled the first album recorded at the studio in 1969 by its address. It was also featured in the Stones' 1970 rockumentary "Gimme Shelter."
Today, the studio is owned and operated by the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation and is open for tours with plans to be a working recording facility in the coming months. Tour times are at 10:30 a.m., 11:30.a.m., 12:30.p.m., 1:30.p.m., 2:30.p.m. and 3:30 p.m.