Alabama has a rich musical history that people may not be aware of. Until a couple of years ago, I wasn’t aware of it either. At one point in time, Muscle Shoals, Ala. was home to a prominent record studio. The Muscle Shoals Sound Studios (MSSS) was founded in 1969 by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (MSRS) after they broke away from FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises) Recording Studios. MSSS was located in a small brick building at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Colbert County. If that address sounds familiar, it might be because it is also the title of Cher’s sixth album which was recorded there. Over the next decade and a half, many famous artists would travel to Muscle Shoals to record with MSRS. Musicians such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, Art Garfunkel, and James Brown are just a few of the world-renowned artists who made music at 3614 Jackson Highway. Bob Dylan and Etta James, as well as many other performers, were able to take advantage of the advanced technology of the new studio when MSSS moved to 1000 Alabama Avenue.
Over the next twenty years (starting in 1985) the studio was sold to Malaco Records and then Cypress Moon Productions Inc. In 1999 the original MSSS building was bought by Noel Webster. In 2006 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Muscle Shoals Music Foundation bought the renovated building from Webster in 2013 and made further restorations. It is now open as a tourist attraction with plans to continue music recording.
If you are interested in an in-depth look at the MSSS’s history, check out “Creating ‘The Muscle Shoals Sound’” feature in Alabama Heritage, issue 114.
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