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Top 10 US Recording Studios

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Wilson Pickett At Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

uDiscover recently paid tribute to the UK-based recording facilities responsible for the records which shaped the future of modern music. In this follow-up feature, we honour the American studios which have sprinkled sonic stardust over many of the era-defining records from the past six decades, so here are our Top 10 US Recording Studios.

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Alabama

This legendary facility’s original studio may have looked like a roadside mechanic’s garage, but it went on produce The Rolling Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’, Bob Seger’s Night Moves and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Skynyrd’s First among many.

Sunset Sound Recorders, Los Angeles
Situated on Hollywood’s famous Sunset Boulevard, this studio was originally built for recording the music for Walt Disney movies. Its seismic rock and roll credits, however, also include The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, The Doors’ Strange Days and (in part) Led Zeppelin II.

Motown Studios, Detroit
Potentially the most known of the US Recording Studios (and technically called ‘Hitsville USA’), Berry Gordy’s Motown studio (now a museum) issued an entire generation’s worth of inspirational music. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Stevie Wonder’s 1962 debut The Jazz Soul Of Little Stevie are just two of the phenomenal titles from the seminal Motown catalogue.

Electric Lady Studios, New York City
Sadly, Jimi Hendrix only got to use his new state of the art studio for a month before his death in 1970, but we can thank the complex for later producing titles such as Patti Smith’s Horses and The Clash’s Combat Rock.

Sun Studios, Memphis
Rock and roll as we know it arguably started here, with albums from Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King and more all being laid down at Sun.

Capitol Studios, Los Angeles
Capitol produced many of Frank Sinatra’s most famous recordings, but it was also home to The Beach Boys and Nat ‘King’ Cole. More recently clients have included Oasis, Daft Punk and Outkast.

Chase Park Transduction, Athens, GA
Prolific 21st Century studio whose clients have included R.E.M, Deerhunter and Queens Of The Stone Age.

Gold Star Studios, Los Angeles
The studio where Phil Spector built his notorious ‘Wall Of Sound’, Gold Star has also hosted Neil Young, Ramones, Meat Loaf and The Righteous Brothers among a multitude of clients.

Columbia Studios, New York City
Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in pre-recorded, having first become established in Washington DC during the 1890s. Their New York studio also has a particular distinction – for first putting Bob Dylan on vinyl with his self-titled 1962 debut.

RCA Studio B, Nashville, Tennessee
Arguably Nashville’s most famous studio for country music, this studio played host to Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton during the 1960s.

Have we left any studios out? Tell us what would be in your top US Recording Studios and why you think it should be on our list, in the comments below…

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Josh

    November 3, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers. You guys left out FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound. Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Paul Simon, Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Cher… Should I keep going?

  2. Josh

    November 3, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    Oh my goodness it was number one. Nice. Phone didn’t load correctly. So sorry lol

  3. JF Hayeur

    November 8, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Stax Studio, Memphis. Part of Stax Museum.

  4. teknopro

    December 9, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Blackbird Studio – Nashville

  5. Dave

    January 9, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    Golden GatecRecording Studio in San Francisco. Biggest and the best vintage gear anywhere! Google them and you will agree. Death Valley Gypsies are currently recording there, Astroid #4 just finished recording there too!

  6. Will Stephens

    February 3, 2019 at 2:23 am

    Philadelphia International Records with Gamble & Huff writing and producing uniquely “The Sound Of Philly,” or as it’s better known, “TSOP.” Artists like Billy Paul, Lou Rawls, FMSB, The Three Degrees, Hall & Oates, The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, The Stylistics and so, so, many more notable and unforgettable artists. Yet, somehow, you forgot them.

  7. Jim B

    January 19, 2021 at 3:27 am

    How could this list not include Sound City Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Nirvana “Nevermind”, REO, Foreigner, Guns N Roses, the list goes on and on.

  8. Shannon

    March 6, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    Blackbird Studio, Nashville, must be in the top 10. Probably in the top 3 or 4.

  9. Bill McMire

    March 30, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    SubPop in seattle where Soundgarden and Nirvana were born

  10. Gerald B Archer

    May 6, 2021 at 4:50 am

    How could you not include Chess Records? All the great blues that was recorded there?

  11. Chuck

    December 30, 2021 at 5:38 am

    Capricorn Studios gets no mention?!

  12. Ryan

    January 11, 2022 at 1:42 am

    How about the studio in my spare bedroom?! Huh?! No mention of that? With all the potential hits that have been recorder and mixed here. Unforgivable mistake.

  13. Jonathan Paul Akre

    January 22, 2022 at 7:47 pm

    The most relevant and most talented musician of the last 50 years.PRINCE at his complex Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen,MN

  14. Tim Payne

    February 10, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    American Sound Studio, Memphis TN, 60’s to early 70’s, Chips Moman putting out some top notch music. Neil Diamond, The Box Tops, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, Elvis Presley, B J Thomas, Merilee Rush, Joe Tex, and many more recorded there. Elvis’ comeback was recorded there in ’69, producing ‘Suspicious Minds’, ‘Kentucky Rain’, ‘In The Ghetto’, ‘Don’t Cry Daddy’. Neil Diamond with ‘Sweet Caroline’. BJ Thomas with ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’, ‘Hooked On A Feeling’, Joe Tex ‘I Gotcha’. On and on. One week, 25% of the Billboard’s Top 100 came out of that studio. Top notch studio band, The Memphis Boys (AKA The 827 Thomas Street Band). They recorded 122 top 10 records.

  15. Dennis Hetzendorfer

    March 28, 2022 at 1:14 am

    Criteria Recording Studios, North Miami Fl should be on that list.The artists that have recorded there include Eric Clapton, Eagles, BeeGees,Lynyrd Skynyrd, R.E.M. Black Sabbath,Mariah Carey..goes on and on. And still making hits!

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