From now until Christmas if you purchase Beats by Dre headphones or one of those Pill wireless speakers, it will help move two Muscle Shoals recording studios – where gems ranging from “Mustang Sally” to “Brown Sugar” were cut – into the future.
Beats Electronics, co-founded by hip-hop great Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine, is allocating proceeds from all Beats products sold from Nov. 29 through Dec. 25 to “restore the iconic Muscle Shoals Sound Studio to a fully functioning recording studio in an effort to preserve the rich history and culture that it represents,” according to a press release.
The renovation will also extend to FAME Recording Studio, Rick Hall’s legendary Shoals facility.
“Magic is a word that’s too often misused in the record industry. Muscle Shoals is different, it’s one of the rare places where it really exists,” Iovine says in the press release. “Anytime you can capture such a distinct and authentic sound over and over again, that’s something worth protecting.”
A central aspect of Beats’ revival of the two studios, in partnership with the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation, will foster training for current and aspiring musicians, producers and engineers with opportunities to work and learn at FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound.
“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with an amazing company like Beats to ensure that we bring the Muscle Shoals Sound to a new generation of listeners,” Muscle Shoals Music Foundation chairman Rodney Hall says in a release. “The Muscle Shoals Sound is a funky, soulful music mash-up of great players, songs and singers, and just as with Beats, we are all about the magic of music. We think that Beats is the perfect partner for this project and we want to thank the entire Beats staff for helping to keep our sound alive.”
The tracks cut at FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound speak for themselves. “Wild Horses.” “Tell Mama.” “Sitting in Limbo.” “Kodachrome.” “I’ll Take You There.” “Night Moves.” “When a Man Loves a Woman.” “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).” And so on.
But Dr. Dre and Iovine also have their feet firmly planted in popular music history.
Jimmy Iovine recorded Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” His many production credits include “Damn the Torpedoes,” the album that made Tom Petty a star.
As a member of N.W.A., Dr. Dre cut the pivotal 1988 LP “Straight Outta Compton,” which turned gangsta-rap into big business and incendiary street-art. In 1992, Dr. Dre, by then a solo artist, released one of the best hip-hop albums ever, “The Chronic,” and, later on as a producer, introduced the world to eventual hip-hop stars including Snoop Dogg and Eminem.
By Matt Wake