It’s not yet halfway through January, but the newly restored Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, where the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon recorded major hits in the late sixties and seventies, has made the grade to take the Attraction of the Year accolade for 2017.
The studio, reopening in January after being closed for decades, benefitted from a gift of nearly a million dollars from Beats Electronics producer Dr Dre, the American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur, who was inspired by the 2013 documentary ‘Muscle Shoals’.
The Alabama Tourism Department, represented in Australia by Kent Marketing, says Muscle Shoals is a clear winner for Attraction of the Year.
Restored to the period colours and furnishings when owned by “the Swampers,” the non-profit studio will be open for daytime tours and nighttime recording sessions.
The Rolling Stones recorded ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Wild Horses’ for their Sticky Fingers album at Muscle Shoals in 1969.
The Rolling Stones recorded “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses” for their Sticky Fingers album in 1969. The Staple Singers cut “I’ll Take You There” and the studio rhythm section backed Bob Seger on “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll.”
During its heyday, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio drew musicians such as Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Willie Nelson and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The studio also played host to Joe Cocker, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart and Cat Stevens.
“Muscle Shoals Sound is revered worldwide as one of the most influential and iconic studios,” said tourism director Lee Sentell.
“The film introduced the Shoals’ musical heritage to a new generation of travellers.”
Almost half of the tourists who dropped by the studio during its year-long-restoration were international visitors, he said.
Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded Skynyrd’s First: The Complete Muscle Shoals Album, at Muscle Shoals in 1971-2
In related news, Gulf Shores’ National Shrimp Festival on 12-15 October 2017 tops the tourism department’s recommended Top Ten events list.
The others are Frontier Days Bicentennial Commemoration at Old St. Stephens on 7 October in St. Stephens; 80th Coon Dog Cemetery Labor Day Celebration on 4 September in Cherokee; 35th Panoply Arts Festival on 28-30 April in Huntsville; Barber Vintage Festival on 6-8 October in Birmingham; 65th Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival on 17-19 March; W.C. Handy Music Festival on 21-30 July in Florence; 25th Annual Hank Williams Festival on 2-3 June in Georgiana; Moundville Native American Festival on 4-7 October; 25th Orange Beach Seafood Festival and Car Show on 18 February; and the 60th Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo on 16-18 March in Montgomery.
Some 700 events are featured in the agency’s 204-page Vacation Guide available at state and local visitor centers, and online at www.alabama.travel.
The original Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama
The guide also features the 25th anniversary of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, kid-friendly road trips, the state’s culinary scene, unique must-visit sites, outdoor adventures and a listing of free smart phone apps from different tourism organizations across the state.
Edited by Peter Needham