Elvis Recorded Here by Joe Chambers
(Transcribed from the video below)
I’ve often been asked, “What’s your favorite exhibit in the museum?”
It’s impossible to give you an honest answer on that. There is however, one unique exhibit that we have that, I can tell you, every time I see it, I really can’t believe that we have it. That’s the exhibit that I’m standing by.
If you’ve been here, you know that we’ve made copies, or tried to copy the front of Motown, Stax and Sun, so that people, when they leave here, feel like they actually were at those studios.
In this case, this is not a reproduction. This is the actual interior from American Studios, which no longer exists, that Chips Moman founded in Memphis. This is the studio where Elvis recorded his biggest record, “Suspicious Minds,” “In the Ghetto,” “Kentucky Rain.” Neil Diamond did “Sweet Caroline.” “Son of a Preacher Man,” by Dusty Springfield was recorded here. “The Letter,” by the Box Tops. So many hit songs were recorded. We have the actual vocal booth.
Now, a lot of people didn’t like using the vocal booth, Elvis being one of them. They wouldn’t go in there, because, at that time, everybody wanted to record and be out in the studio with the musicians. They would put up both walls to keep you from having what they called “bleed over” from the drums that would bleed over into the vocal mic, or the guitar doesn’t bleed over into the drum mic, or whatever. Most of the singers liked being in the studio. At that time, most people would record the sessions live with all the players playing at the same time. Maybe go back in and fix the vocals, maybe make a new vocal track, somebody made a mistake, they may punch in and fix the mistake, but, for the most part, those records sounded so great, because, everybody was playing together and feeding off each other. I call it spontaneous creativity, where you just heard another phenomenal player play something and it just inspired you to up your game as well.
This black door here, this is where Elvis stood, they had brought a boom mic down, and he stood by this door and sang, “Suspicious Minds.” I mean, this is it. The last owner, bought the studio, to my knowledge, the day before Elvis died. It became an Elvis pilgrimage. People from all over the world would come here and tour through the studio.
There were bevels that you could shut and have the ceiling tiles, basically, absorb the sound. If the room was dead, then you could easily and quickly open up the panel here and have a hard surface for the sound to bounce off of and make it live again. They would let the tourists come in and sign their names from all over the world on these panels.
In 1985, Dick Clark shot a movie called “The Class of ’55,” and you can look that up on YouTube and see this room with Ricky Nelson, and Roy Orbison, and, I think, Johnny Cash. I can’t remember who all was on it, but, I think that was the last thing that was really done here in this studio.