As a local developer threatens to erase one of Music City's most important landmarks, a growing group of preservationists and concerned citizens are organizing to save it from demolition. Considered to be the most important music history site on Music Row, legendary RCA Victor Studio A is slated for demolition as early as December, to be replaced with retail space and condominiums. The Save Studio A grassroots petition campaign (www.savestudioa.com), calling for a collaborative solution allowing the developer to make a fair return on his investment while preserving the physical structure of Studio A, is working to compromise with the man behind the wrecking ball before the landmark is gone for good.
The first purpose-built studio in Nashville, Studio A was one of a handful of studios behind the "Music City USA" legacy that remains a vital part of the city's tourism brand and local economy. The complex was the center of the city's creative music scene in the 1960s and 70s, home to a "producer's row" where Chet Atkins, Cowboy Jack Clement and others headquartered. An engineering marvel of its time, the complex provided a recording environment that today exists in only a handful of recording studios in the world.
The list of artists who have recorded at the RCA Victor complex over the last 50 years reads like a veritable "who's who" of American music history. The studio churned out country staples like Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and Eddy Arnold's "Make the World Go Away" as well as hits by Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain and countless others.
The organizer of Save Studio A, award-winning songwriter and producer Trey Bruce, remembers visiting the studio when his father, Ed Bruce, recorded there in the 1960s. "We can't stand by and let this international treasure be torn down and converted to condos without doing everything we possibly can to save it," said Bruce. "We're calling on music lovers around the world to sign our petition and keep this discussion – and precious landmark – alive."
In August, multi-platinum country artist Keith Urban urged Nashville residents to support Music Row preservation efforts, stating "I sincerely hope that those who have made Nashville their home over the years, and those who have recently discovered our fair city, will come together as a united front and continue to be vocal about preserving and fortifying our beloved Music Row."
As Nashville's development fever spreads, Music Row has become a prime spot for high-rise construction. Tim Reynolds of Bravo Development purchased the property in July 2014 and promised to incorporate the legendary building into his development. In September, Reynolds backpedaled on that promise, evicting all tenants effective November 30, 2014 and shared plans to demolish the landmark, building condominiums in its place. Citing structural and engineering challenges, Reynolds claims the building is beyond saving. The Save Studio A group believes that the structure's disrepair has been exaggerated and plans to release an independent assessment of the building's condition over the weekend.
"We want Reynolds to know we're not smelling what he's stepping in," said Nashville resident Mike Wolfe of television's American Pickers fame during a press conference at Studio A. "We all have somebody to answer to in the end, and we all have things in life that test our character. We're here because we're good examples of that, and we wish everybody else in our community was too." - CelebrityAccess