If you’ve come to Nashville in search of Elvis, or any other country music star, the first place you need to visit is the RCA Studio. Take the historic RCA Studio B tour for personal stories of the stars, as well as a glimpse of where they recorded some of their biggest hits.
Finding Elvis on the Historic RCA Studio B Tour
They’d been waiting for hours for Elvis to get warmed up, settled in and ready to record; they even turned off the lights at his request to create the right mood. The reward was a perfect first take of ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight.’ That is until the King tripped in the dark, knocked over some equipment and almost knocked himself out.
The Elvis story was just one of many told during our tour of RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. There was another about a young Dolly Parton, rushing to her first session and running into the side of the building. As any young, rather new driver would do, her reaction was if no one saw it, it didn’t happen. Yet someone did see. Studio owner Chet Atkins saw and asked Dolly about it afterwards. She ‘fesses up, but quipped, “Mr. Atkins, just think of it as my first hit.”
The RCA Studio B Tour
The RCA Studio B tour is part of the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum, but located in a different place. Tickets are purchased at the museum, and guests hop a bus to Music Row, and the unassuming cinderblock building that is the home to 1000 hits. As we walked in on the 50’s era linoleum floors, you could smell a familiar musty odor common to that era building, and feel the history.
There isn’t enough time to hear all the stories, so our guide asked us to pick a few names based on large photos around the room of RCA hit makers to hear their songs and their stories. My favorite was Charlie Pride. He was the first black musician to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and one of a few black country musicians to be successful in that era. His first love however was baseball, and in his 20’s he played in the Negro American League. It wasn’t until 1966 that he moved to country, and as you can imagine during that time period, it wasn’t easy. He was known as Country Charley Pride and there were no pictures of him for the first two years of his career. Pride is one of the best selling country artists of all time, second only to Elvis Presley.
‘X’ Marks the Spot at Studio B
The best part of the tour is the actual recording room. This is where Elvis famously almost knocked himself out, but also where he recorded such hits as “It’s Now or Never,” “Little Sister,” and of course “Are you Lonesome Tonight?” In fact, a star-studded list of country stars recorded 1000 hits here, hence the moniker “home of 1000 hits.” Be sure to find the blue X and stand on it. You’ll be standing right where Elvis and countless other artists stood to record their songs.
Apparently, for a recording studio, the building didn’t have great acoustics, but if singers stood here, the sound was perfect.
Where to Stay in Nashville
During our visit to Nashville, we stayed at the Hotel Indigo, Printer’s Alley. It was the perfect location for a leisure trip to Nashville, within walking distance to major attractions, Nashville’s famous honky tonks, and restaurants. Each Hotel Indigo has a unique personality and this one gives a nod to the area’s printing heritage, and the speakeasy bars that flourish around the corner in historic Printer’s Alley. Best part was we booked it with IHG Rewards Points.