Starday-King Sound Studios

3557 Dickerson Pike – Madison, built 1960

Photo: Jodi Totten
Photo: Jodi Totten
Photo: Jodi Totten
Photo: Jodi Totten
Photo: Jodi Totten
Photo: Jodi Totten
Photo: Mike Beecham
Photo: Mike Beecham

Constructed in 1960 in Madison, this nondescript Mid-Century Modern building was an exceptionally significant music recording studio in the 1960s and 1970s.  Starday and King were powerhouse independent labels known for traditional country, bluegrass, rockabilly, gospel, and R&B music.  In its heyday, stars like Dottie West, Minnie Pearl, Jim Reeves, Archie Campbell, Cowboy Copas, Red Sovine, Howdy Kempf, Jimmy Day, Pete Drake, Reece Sisters, and Mike Higashi of Tokyo all recorded here.  From 1962-1965, Jimi Hendrix played guitar at Starday for such as Billy Cox, Johnny Jones, and Frank Howard and the Commanders.  In 1968, Nashville’s local disc jockey Bill Hoss Allen recorded “He Went to the Mountain Top” at Starday as a tribute to MLK, Jr., soon after he was murdered in Memphis.  The biggest superstar to record at Starday was undoubtedly James Brown, who recorded “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine” and “Super Bad” here in 1970.  The following year, he recorded “Hot Pants” and “I’m a Greedy Man” as well as several other songs from 1970-1975.  In fact, many in the music industry still refer to this building as “James Brown’s Starday-King Studio” and according to legend, the studio is painted brown in his honor.  Once one of the busiest state-of-the-art music recording studios in Nashville, rivaling RCA Studio A and Owen Bradley’s Quonset Hut on Music Row, the building has stood vacant since 2000 and is now beginning to deteriorate.  There is significant community support to restore the building as a recording studio or other creative use.

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