In celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the opening of the studio that would come to be known as Historic RCA Studio B, Bobby Bare, Dave Cobb, Lloyd Green, and Connie Smith gathered to share memories of recording at the studio and to assess its importance today. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum staff member Peter Cooper served as moderator. Smith and Bare are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Bare and Green spoke about their first sessions at Studio B. Smith said of her first, in July 1964:"[Studio B is] just different than any other studio I've ever been in. It kind of hugged me. It was just so warm and it was like a family gathering when we were here."
Bare recalled being produced by Chet Atkins at Studio B, "Boy, what a trip. I remember when I cut '500 Miles Away From Home'. Hank Cochran came with me here. And after the session somebody asked Hank, 'How did it go?’ He said it was so great that Chet jumped up and said it was a smash and leaped through that plate glass window."
Bare later said of Atkins, "[Chet] said the least of any producer I ever saw in the studio." Green concurred, "Chet was a man of few words, but he was really an intellectual." Of the relationship between Atkins the producer and his session musicians, Green said, "We did have a lot of respect for Chet. It was a mutual admiration society."
For the renowned steel guitar player Green, recording at Studio B felt like playing live. "It had an intimacy that felt so comfortable,” he said. “It was live, it was like playing a live show somewhere. But, the room had great acoustical sounds. You'd hear the playback and it would sound like a record. It wasn't like today, where you hear pieces and bits when listening to playbacks. We would hear the record essentially how it would sound on the radio."
Cobb, the producer of such contemporary artists as Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and Sturgill Simpson, is continually inspired by records made at Studio B. "We copy these jokers," he said. "They got it right. I learned how to make records looking at pictures of what you guys were doing here."
The discussion was interspersed with recordings by each artist, all made at Studio B. The songs stirred memories among the members of the panel. Charley Pride's "Just Between You and Me," on which Green played steel, had particular impact. Green remembered, "He sang with great feeling, great emotion, and Charley and I became great friends."
Bare is often considered one of the pioneers of the Outlaw Movement. His album Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends and Lies, self-produced after he returned to RCA, is cited frequently as a foundational album of the Outlaw Movement. Atkins drew Bare back to RCA on the promise that he could produce himself. Bare's success with Lullabyes inspired Waylon Jennings to ask for the same, leading to further development of the Outlaw sound.
The full video of the panel discussion is available now: StudioB.org/streaming
-Justin L. Croft
-Justin L. Croft