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Ardent Studios Donates Historic Console to Memphis’ STAX Museum

1969 Sister Console Identical to Lost Stax Board.

Pictured at Memphis’ Stax Museum are curator Carol Drake and Ardent Studios’ founder John Fry.

John Fry, founder of Memphis renowned Ardent Studios, has donated the historic recording console which was used for many years in his studios, often shaping the sound of countless Stax Records hits during a period when Ardent worked closely with the Stax label and recording studios.

The console was made by Memphis company Auditronics, owned by Welton Jetton and Steve Sage. Auditronics had supplied smaller consoles to both Ardent and Stax in 1966. The donated console was fabricated from amplifiers and equalizers made by Spectrasonics of Odgen, Utah.

The 20-input, 8-output console was installed at Ardent’s location on National St. in 1969 and moved to Ardent’s present location on Madison Ave. where it served in Studio B until 1985. Auditronics also supplied Stax with an identical console for their A Studio in 1970.

When the modest Capitol Theater was transformed into Stax Records in 1959, it began launching the careers of artists such as Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Luther Ingram, Albert King, the Bar-Kays, Booker T. & the MG’s, Johnnie Taylor, Rufus and Carla Thomas, and dozens of others whose influence remains vital in the music of today.

Today, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located at the original site of Stax Records, has more than 2,000 exhibits, videos, stage costumes, photographs, instruments used to record the Stax sound, including items such as Phalon Jones’ saxophone that was retrieved from a lake intact after the fatal crash of Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays; Otis Redding’s favorite brown suede jacket; Albert King’s famous purple Flying V guitar; Tina Turner’s gold sequined stage dress and Ike Turner silver lame suit and Fender guitar; the organ used by Booker T. Jones to record Green Onions; and Isaac Hayes’ restored, peacock-blue 1972 Superfly Cadillac El Dorado complete with television, refrigerator, and gold trim. In the Hall of Records approximately 800 45 rpm single records and 300 LPs are on display.

Visitors can stand on the exact spot where much of the great Stax music was made, in the recreation of Stax’s legendary Studio A, now including the legendary console from Ardent Studios which is identical to the one formerly housed at Stax.

Songs recorded on the Ardent console now at the Stax Museum include Isaac Hayes’ “Hot Buttered Soul,” The Staple Singers’ “The Staple Swingers,” Best of Sam & Dave, Led Zeppelin III, James Taylor’s “Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon,” Big Star’s “#1 Record” and “Radio City,” ZZ Tops’ “Fandango” and “Tejas,” the Bar-Kay’s “Too Hot to Stop,” and hundreds of other recordings which define the sound and songs of a generation.

To learnmore about the Stax Museum, visit:
To learn about Ardent Studios, visit: