Monday, August 24, 2009

A Tribute to Les Paul

On August 12th the band Halo Stereo invited Wes Aldridge and myself down to Muscle Shoals Sound Studios to photograph them recording. When we arrived at Muscle Shoals Sound we were all struck by the historic nature of the studio. In the studio you can sit where Duane Allman, Cher, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Joe Cockker, The Rolling Stones, JJ Cale, Lynyrd Skynard, and many more have recorded. Not only that you can see pictures of these amazing artist from their time in the studio.

Well just after you think you have had a massive history lesson on recording at Muscle Shoals Sound Noel Webster offers to take you out back to their wear house which is acting as a museum. In this museum you are bombarded with analogue recording history. Some of the worlds finest gear lives at Muscle Shoals Sound. When Noel gives you the tour you will be awestruck by the awesomeness of recording history. You can touch some of the gear and feel that it was built to last. The gear used in the hay day of recording featured military spec knobs and switches, point to point class A wiring, and heavy duty housings. When you look at the circuit boards you see a work of art that people poured their hearts and souls into. After our tour of the wear house Noel takes us back up front to show us one last goodie. He says this one is going to knock your socks off.

We get up to the entrance to the studio and Noel shows us the very first Ampex 8 track recorder. This is the very first ever 8 track recorder! The machine was designed by the very famous Les Paul. The recorder is a work of art. Not only is it a work of art it helped to make modern day multi track recording possible.

The next morning I wake up with a text from my fiance. The text reads that "Les Paul is dead". I mull those words over in my head for a few minutes before I say anything. Les Paul the man that invited the solid body electric guitar, multi track recording, tape delay, the phaser, and much more is dead at the age of 94. It was a sad day. It had even more impact because we were at Muscle Shoals Sound a bastion of analogue recording in todays digital world.

Noel Webster who runs the studio and is the engineer says to me at breakfast that we should take some pictures of the Ampex 8 Track Recorder on the day of Les Paul's death as a tribute. I think that is an amazing idea and get pretty stoked about it. Well the day runs on and it is a busy day of recording. At about 11:30pm Wes and I still have not taken any pictures of the 8 track recorder. Noel comes us to us to remind us. So we hurriedly pull some amazing photos off to honor Les Paul on the day of his death.

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