Nashville’s Legendary Bradley Studios
Posted on December 2, 2012 by Tim Tolbert
A whirlwind visit to Nashville had to include a stop at the famed “Quonset Hut” studio; now part of Belmont University’s music department. The old studio was originally built by Owen Bradley and his brother in the back of a house owned by the brothers on 16th Avenue South in Nashville. The studio now sits in the area known as Music Row and Owen Bradley is forever immortalized as the father of the Nashville Sound.
Bradley produced countless artists including Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Marty Robbins at the studio. All of these hits were recorded in the Quonset Hut and or Studio A: Crazy, I Fall To Pieces, I’m Sorry, El Paso, I Want You, Just Like A Woman, Lay Lady Lay, The Most Beautiful Girl In The World and too many more to list.
Outside the Quonset Hut, circa late 1950’s
Inside Studio B
In 1966, Bob Johnston, the producer of Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde album and others, convinced Dylan to head to Nashville’s Columbia Studios facility to record the bulk of Blonde on Blonde after the vibe in New York just wasn’t producing the results that Dylan wanted. Johnston quickly rounded up a crack crew of Nashville session artists in advance of the recording sessions and the rest is history. Dylan went on to record John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and portions of Self Portrait at the Nashville Columbia studios.
The Dylan sessions actually took place in Columbia’s Studio A which was adjacent to Studio B (the Quonset Hut). Dylan famously asked that the partition baffling be ripped from the studio in order for all of the musicians to see and feel each other better during the live recordings. The resulting “live” feel of Blonde on Blonde contributed to Dylan’s “wild mercury sound” during that period.
Inside Studio A
Today the original Quonset Hut is still intact on the site although it’s been encased and bricked around by a nondescript office building built by Sony Music after it purchased the Columbia studios. Mike Curb, a philanthropist and Nashville empresario, purchased the buildings from Sony Music and has restored the Quonset Hut to a working studio again…carefully trying to preserve and maintain many of the original features.
If you drive in the back of the building you can actually see the Quonset Hut studio and the studio’s main entrance. Plans are in the works to open the site up to future tours but currently only students and recording artists have access inside this historical site.
Quonset Hut today