Unveiling the Hidden Gem: American Recording Studio in Memphis

Built in 1967, American Recording Studio has a storied legacy that not many know.

Nestled between Orange Mound and Castilla Heights, exists a recording studio that stands as a testament to Memphis’ rich musical history. American Recording Studio, often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts, is a hidden gem that has played a crucial role in shaping the sound of many iconic artists.

American Recording Studio Exterior
Jalyn Souchek
American Recording Studio

The Legacy of American Recording Studio

Built in 1967, American Recording Studio was the  one of the first purpose-built studios in Memphis–meaning it was built intentionally to be a recording studio vs. being outfitted to one. That resulted in an impressively built space. Think cinder block walls, floated floors, and the craziest two-room echo chambers. The stereo echo chambers were built above the control room allowing them to capture the live vocal sounds or instruments.

records on wall of American Recording Studio
Jalyn Souchek
recording booth at American Recording Studio
Jalyn Souchek

Bands and Artists that Recorded at American Recording Studio

An impressive list of artists of all genres have recording here in its 55+ years from Loretta Lynn, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Jeff Buckley, Cat Power, Belly to all of our local favorites like The Memphis Horns, LA Chat, Key Glock, The Bar-Kays, Frayser Boy, and yes–even Elvis and Johnny Cash recorded here too. When Stax Records shuttered, many of the artists, like The Bar-Kays, made this building their home.

It’s also where Young Dolph’s Paper Route EMPIRE often recorded.

My favorite part of visiting recording studios is discovering what iconic albums have been recorded there. For American Recording Studio, it’s "White Blood Cells" by The White Stripes, Sonic Youth’s "Washing Machine", and Pavement’s "Wowee Zowee." Three super influential albums adored recorded right here in Memphis.

photo of Jeff Buckley at the studio
Jalyn Souchek
Jeff Buckley
recording studio in American Recording
Jalyn Souchek

Devastating Fire Was Almost The End

For a time, the studio was known as Easley McCain Recording until 2005 when a fire in the control room closed the studio. Thankfully, efforts soon were made in 2007 to restore the studio to its former glory. The restoration would take quite some time with it reopening in 2011. What an incredible loss it would have been if this studio wasn’t restored.

view from recording studio into the recording booth
Jalyn Souchek

American Recording Studios Today

While the studio has changed hands over the years, the dedication and commitment to recording local and diverse artists has remained consistent. Recently, they had a metal Brazilian band and a children’s chorus from Switzerland recording there.

Today, the studio is run by David Gicking and Brad Dunn. Gicking is largely responsible for saving the studio post-fire when he purchased the building in 2011 to restore it back to its glory days.

Both Gicking and Dunn have an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience. They remain incredibly busy. I caught a peak at their recording schedule and there are very few days where no one is in the studio.

While the recording studio doesn’t have open tours per say, they’re generous with their time and will show people around. If you’re a local artist, give them a look for your next recording. They’re big supporters of the local music scene.

Brad Dunn points out an album on the wall at American Recording Studio
Jalyn Souchek
Brad Dunn points out an album on the wall at American Recording Studio

There’s a lot that can be said and written about American Recording Studio and the stories from within its walls. If you’re interested in learning more, give the website a visit. They include a running list of artists who have recorded there too.

Keep up with them on Instagram or Facebook too.

more records and album covers line the wall at American Recording Studio
Jalyn Souchek

About the Author

Hello! I'm Jalyn Souchek, the Director of Content for I Love Memphis Blog! I love calling the 901 home. When I'm not running the blog you can find me cheering on the Grizzlies, at a concert, exploring a new restaurant or kicking back at one of our breweries. I hope you'll love experiencing Memphis with me.

Build your perfect Memphis meal:

I love to eat so if I were to have only one meal left.. I’m going all out. I’d start with an app of Gumbo Fries from Blue City Cafe or Bayou Fries from Chef Tam, wings from Good Fortune or Central’s (honey gold and Jamaican Jerk), potato salad from Fat Larry’s, side of bbq spaghetti from Bar-B-Q Shop, and fried okra from Soul Fish. All paired with a Beale Street Brewing Space Age Sippin’.

Your most memorable Memphis moment:

College GameDay on Beale Street. That was an electric and perfect morning. I was still working in news then and was able to take it in up close and on the stage at some points. The fun and joy of everyone down there that morning is unbeatable.

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