With commercial studios in large cities succumbing to high real estate costs and lower budgets, it’s always great to hear about a “vintage” studio that is still rolling (and rolling tape) after all these years. Royal Studios in Memphis was the home of producer Willie Mitchell during the heyday of the Memphis Sound, and his son Boo Mitchell is keeping the sounds alive all these years later.
If you ever listened to and loved the sound of Al Green or Ann Peebles records, that’s the sound of Royal. Artists as diverse as Charlie Rich, Chuck Berry, Ike and Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Keith Richards, Melissa Etheridge, and Bruno Mars have recorded there. The Beatles even rehearsed there once. Most recently, producer Mark Ronson utilized Royal for his massive hit “Uptown Funk.”
The studio is built around a vintage MCI 536C and JH-24 multitrack tape machine, with lots of old vintage mics and music gear available as well. Of course, there’s also the industry standard Pro Tools rig and a few pieces of modern outboard gear, but if you’re recording there, it’s for the vintage analog and not the digital that can be found virtually anywhere else.
Check out this short video about Royal Studios, and go to royalstudios.com for some great pictures and history.
Thanks to my bud Steve Harvey for the heads-up.