Music Tour of the Shoals
The Shoals area is no stranger to the music scene. From the area’s number one recordings in the ‘60s to the hits being made now, new artists are emerging from the area and hit music continues to be a huge draw to our area. “The Father of Rock and Roll” Sam Phillips – who had the first recording contract for Elvis – was born in Florence as well as W.C. Handy, “The Father of the Blues.” The story of the music in our area has been recently featured in a documentary called “Muscle Shoals” and many visitors are coming to experience the venues and stories showcased in the film. If you want to really experience the Shoals, take this one-day tour of tunes!
9 am The best place to start is with a tour of the studio that created the “Muscle Shoals Sound” — FAME Recording Studios, located on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals. Still a working studio, this is where the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section got its start. FAME was host to artists such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Duane Allman, Otis Redding, the Osmonds, Paul Anka and many others. In the last 50 years, FAME Studios recorded or published music that sold over 350 million copies.
Tours are Mon – Fri 9 am & 4 pm; Sat 10 am – 2 pm
603 E. Avalon Ave., Muscle Shoals, AL 35661
10:15 am The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Cher, and others recorded some of their biggest hits in the Shoals, and much of that happened in a little nondescript building at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield. Recently renovated by Apple/Beats, the facility has become a recording studio once again, in addition to conducting tours of the studio where iconic hits like “Wild Horses” were made. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, also known as the “Swampers”, created Muscle Shoals Sound Studios here, and later moved it to a location on the river in Sheffield.
Hours are 7 days a week 10 am – 5 pm
Tour times are 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, & 4:30 pm.
3614 Jackson Hwy, Sheffield, AL 35660
11:30 am The second Muscle Shoals Sound, now known as Cypress Moon Studios, brought in acts like Bob Dylan, Julian Lennon, Bob Seger, Steve Winwood and more. Concerts are held periodically in the historic studios where many music icons once recorded their hits.
Open for tours Mon – Fri 10 am – 3 pm; Sat 11 am – 3 pm
1000 Alabama Ave, Sheffield, AL 35660
1 pm After lunch, to see more on both music achievers in the Shoals area and other parts of the state, visit the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia. You’ll be amazed at the number of talented people from Alabama who changed the course of musical history, including Tommy Shaw of Styx, Lionel Richie, Bobby Goldsboro, Jim Nabors, Emmylou Harris and many, many more. Climb aboard a tour bus used by the supergroup Alabama or make your own kind of music in an actual recording booth.
Open for tours Tue – Sat 9 am – 5 pm
617 U.S. 72 West, Tuscumbia 35674
3 pm Last but not least, head to Florence to see the cabin where in 1873 William Christopher Handy (W.C.), known as “The Father of the Blues”, was born. Today the W.C. Handy Museum & Birthplace houses a museum of memorabilia, sheet music, and the personal papers of the composer of “St. Louis Blues,” among many others.
Open for Tours Tue – Sat 10 am – 4 pm
620 West College St., Florence 35630