The legendary Capricorn Sound Studios in Macon, Georgia, is opening for business once again.
On Dec. 3 — the 50th anniversary of its original launch — the recording studio that hosted such iconic acts as The Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Charlie Daniels Band, Wet Willie and Elvin Bishop will celebrate a grand re-opening as Mercer Music at Capricorn, it was announced Monday (Dec. 2).
The building that eventually became Capricorn Sound Studios was purchased in 1967 as a studio space for Otis Redding and other soul artists signed to Redding’s music publishing firm RedWal Music, which he co-founded alongside brothers Phil and Alan Walden and became known as one of the first integrated music publishing companies in the South. Though Redding died in a plane crash later that year, the studio officially opened in 1969 along with Capricorn Records (the label the Waldens co-founded with Frank Fenter) and subsequently became known as the birthplace of southern rock.
The 20,000 square foot renovated recording studio, which was donated to nearby Mercer University by real estate developer Sierra Development in 2016, is being touted as an incubator for new talent, with two full recording studios, sound booths, state-of-the-art mixing capabilities, rehearsal rooms and educational spaces, including a 1,200 square foot museum that will tell the story of Macon and Capricorn through artifacts and interactive exhibits.
The Dec. 3 celebration is open to the public and will include performances by the Robert Lee Coleman Band, Marshall Tucker Band guitarist Chris Hicks, Wet Willie lead singer Jimmy Hall, Chuck Leavell of The Allman Brothers Band and current musical director of The Rolling Stones, Blackberry Smoke frontman Charlie Starr and Duane Betts of The Allman Betts Band, among others. Attendees will additionally be offered tours of the new interior.
“This place holds so many incredible memories,” said Leavell, speaking at a Sept. 28 news conference to announce dedication plans. “We’re on the verge of celebrating 50 years of the Allman Brothers Band, which is amazing, and we certainly made some records here with them and so many others. It’s such a historic room. It does my heart good to know that it’s not just going to fall into dilapidation and just fade away. It can’t do that.”
“The historic Capricorn Sound Studios are being resurrected to be a part of what we expect to be a vibrant music hub that will leverage the rich music heritage of this region into what we expect will be a vibrant music future here,” said Mercer University president William D. Underwood at the same news conference.
The $4.3 million renovation was funded by historic tax credits, major grants from the Peyton Anderson Foundation and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and gifts from both business and individuals.
UPDATE: This article was updated on Dec. 20, 2019, to reflect that Frank Fenter co-founded Capricorn Records alongside Phil and Alan Walden. Billboard regrets the error.