Quad Studio Owners Keep Nashville's Musical Heritage Alive
For the past several years, a fight to save famous commercial recording studios has entangled Nashville. Some studios have closed to make room for redevelopment, some have made international headlines as they dodged the wrecking ball, and then there's Quadrophonic Studio.
As the Outlaw movement ushered in a new era and Nashville dug its stake even deeper into the ground as the world's country music capital in the 1970s, the city also broadened its musical horizons. Pop stars such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Linda Rondstadt and Neil Young came to Music City to record albums that would become classics.
And Quad Studio, founded by revered studio musicians David Briggs and Norbert Putnam, was the place where many of these pop stars chose to record their masterpieces.
Without the fanfare of Studio A, which was saved in 2014,Quad Studios was quietly saved last year when songwriter Marti Frederiksen partnered with Round Hill Music CEO Josh Gruss to purchase the Midtown buildingfor just less than $1 million. The new owners did more than preserve the famous studio — they refurbished the recording space and moved Round Hill's employees into the upstairs offices. The facility is home to eight full-time employees and about 20 songwriters. The studio's new name is Sienna Recording Studio.
A tour through the building is a tour through Nashville's proud musical heritage as a town about more than country music.
Shortly after Briggs and Putnam opened the studio in 1970, Baez recorded “Blessed Are” there. Dobie Gray followed with “Drift Away.” Then Young made “Harvest” at Quad, and the studio cemented itself as the place for pop stars to record.
Round Hill’s commitment to the facility is evident by the fact that the company has continued to field offers to sell. By preserving the studio facilities, the company has given a critical win to preservationists worried that Nashville’s musical heritage is under attack from developers.
“People come in all the time,” studio manager Kari Smith said. “They walk in and offer double what was paid for it. Marti bought it because he gets to use the studio; he thinks this is a great studio.”
Quad was creative hangout. Quad Studios wasn’t built to become a pop music mecca. Putnam said he and Briggs were cash-strapped and couldn’t put in all the improvements they wanted when they bought the building in 1969.
But one asset they did include is an isolated drum room, something Putnam believes was the first in Nashville.