09 April 2019 | STANLEY DUNLAP | The Telegraph
A major contribution will help pave the way for the rebirth of the legendary Capricorn Sound Studios into a complex that is a nod to the past and a space for the future.
The Peyton Anderson Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will provide $2 million in total funding for the re-opening of the downtown studio. Called Mercer Music at Capricorn, the “heart” of the 20,000-square-foot space will be a 24-hour music incubator with 13 rehearsal rooms, a Mercer University news release said.
The renovated Capricorn studio will feature a restored recording studio, interpretive exhibits, artifacts and digital kiosks with music from Capricorn Records artists. There will also be a new studio large enough for orchestral recordings and live performances, along with office and conference room space.
Mercer is continuing its fundraising efforts for the project to go along with the two foundations each providing $1 million. The project should be completed by the end of 2019, university officials say.
Capricorn was the label for many Southern rock and soul bands in the 1970s including the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band, Delbert McClinton, the Outlaws, the Dixie Dregs, the James Montgomery Band, Elvin Bishop, Wet Willie, Jonathan Edwards, Captain Beyond, White Witch, Grinderswitch, Cowboy, Hydra, Kitty Wells, Dobie Gray, Alex Taylor, Travis Wammack, Sea Level (band) and Stillwater. Gregg ( Stony ) Atwill was a recording and concert sound engineer with Capricorn through the 1970s.
Capricorn studios, located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, was the place where The Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie and other rock and soul musicians recorded songs.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of Macon’s Capricorn Records.
Mercer Music at Capricorn “will further solidify Macon’s international reputation as a place that has made, and continues to make, important contributions to music and culture,” Underwood said.
Two years ago, Miss America 2016 and Warner Robins native Betty Cantrell and Nashville musician Jonathan Wyndham became the first two artists to have official recording sessions inside Mercer Music at Capricorn.
The story of Capricorn unofficially began when Phil Walden, then a Mercer University student, began booking bands for fraternity parties at area colleges.
Walden’s big break came when he discovered a band called Pat Tea Cake and the Mighty Panthers, with Johnny Jenkins on guitar and Otis Redding as vocalist.
With Walden’s encouragement, these two headliners formed another band called Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers. As Otis Redding emerged nationally as a solo artist, he and the Walden brothers — Phil and Alan — founded Redwal Music (“Red” for Redding; “Wal” for Walden), one of the first integrated music publishing companies in the South.
Redding and Phil Walden also began developing plans for a studio where artists on their roster could record locally.
Those plans were put on hold after Redding’s untimely death in a plane crash on his way to a concert in December 1967.
After a brief hiatus, Phil Walden launched Capricorn Records in 1969 with guidance from his mentor, Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler. Walden selected the name, Capricorn, because it was his and Wexler’s Zodiac sign. Phil Walden, along with Alan Walden, Frank Fenter and others assembled a roster of new rock talent that began to redefine American music and create a new musical genre — Southern Rock.
Capricorn Sound Studios is most closely associated with the Allman Brothers Band, which recorded significant portions of three albums there, as well as Gregg Allman’s solo album Laid Back in 1973 and Dickey Betts’s solo album Highway Call in 1974.
Led by Duane and his brother Gregg, Southern boys who had grown up in Florida, the Allman Brothers became so huge that even Duane’s death in a 1971 motorcycle accident didn’t derail the band.
Their success made Macon ground zero for Southern Rock. Capricorn, then operating out of Walden’s of office downtown, was the genre’s signature label. As the success of the touring artists rose, the label needed a studio in Macon and found a location in the real estate that Redding and Walden had purchased a few years earlier.
By the mid-1970s, the headquarters of Capricorn Records included executive of ces on Cotton Avenue and the active recording studio on what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The recording studio is the physical space that captured and de ned the 1970s Southern Rock sound with a roster of talented artists who would become legends: the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band, the Charlie Daniels Band, Wet Willie, Elvin Bishop and many others.
Capricorn is one of only a few studios in the country that can claim to have produced music that had a uniquely transformative impact on American culture.
Capricorn is the place where in influences from blues, soul, rockabilly and country blended into a new musical genre — Southern Rock — in the 1970s, putting it in a small group of transformative studios and musical styles including RCA Studio A in Nashville where the “Nashville Sound” emerged; Chess Records in Chicago, which popularized “Electric Blues”; FAME in Muscle Shoals, known for its production of “Southern Soul”; Motown Records in Detroit, which created the “Motown Sound” of soul music; Stax in Memphis, where Redding originally recorded; and the “Brill Building Sound,” a continual stream of mainstream pop music from the New York City building.
This juxtaposition of music production and integration of the South in the 1970s contributes to Capricorn’s national significance.
The creative spark attracted African-American and white musicians, songwriters and artists who not only worked together but also socialized together, generating shock waves in the South but ultimately influencing a growing acceptance of integration.
Capricorn Sound Studios is an important chapter both in the story of Macon and in the broader story of music history. It is also an important chapter in the story of America because it illustrates how the integration of cultures in America has helped strengthen and define our nation.
08 April 2019 | Amaris Jenkins | Fox24
MACON, Ga. (WGXA) — Historic Capricorn Studios in downtown Macon is set to re-open by the end of the year.
According to a release, this is the 50th anniversary of Capricorn’s founding, with a $2 million boost from the Peyton Anderson Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Kyle Sears with Mercer University says the project aims to boost Macon’s music heritage. This is an effort to advance growth and vibrancy in the city’s downtown area, according to Sears.
The recording studio helped define the 1970s Southern Rock sound with a number of talented artists who went on to become legends, according to the release. A few of those legends are:
- The Allman Brothers Band
- The Marshall Tucker Band
- The Charlie Daniels Band
- Wet Willie
- Elvin Bishop
Mercer Music at Capricorn plans to continue the studio’s legacy. The release says the new studio will be a multi-purpose , 20,000-square-foot complex. In addition to the restored studio, a larger studio suitable for orchestral recording and film scoring, as well as live performances will be added. The facility will also include an interpretive space that will tell the story of Capricorn and Macon’s music history through artifacts and interactive exhibits, according to the release.
Sears says the main focus of the project is a music incubator. The incubator will feature 13 rehearsal rooms of many different sizes to facilitate the development of musical talent. In addition, Sears says the incubator will be available to musicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The new studio plans to also host offices and meetings for any related arts and cultural organizations.
In the release breakdown, $1 million for the studio is credited to Peyton Anderson Foundation and Knight Foundation. Construction is set to proceed while Mercer University continues its fundraising efforts to complete Mercer Music at Capricorn. It’s also noted that the Peyton Anderson Foundation made previous grants to help purchase the building out of foreclosure and stabilize it after the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation placed the building on its “Places in Peril” list in 2010. This helped bring the foundation’s total support to nearly $2 million.
Mercer President William D. Underwood says “We are deeply grateful to the Peyton Anderson Foundation and Knight Foundation for these major grants that will advance our efforts to re-open Capricorn by year-end.” He adds, “Mercer Music at Capricorn will contribute to Downtown Macon’s continued revitalization while providing a space that will cultivate the next generation of music talent and enhance the local music scene; draw tourists from around the world; and allow bands and musicians to record in an iconic studio that birthed Southern Rock. It will further solidify Macon’s international reputation as a place that has made, and continues to make, important contributions to music and culture.”
“Timing has never been better to launch Mercer Music at Capricorn, where Macon’s music scene will be nurtured and supported by an innovative, collaborative effort, rooted in legendary history and surrounded by a vibrant, growing downtown,” said Karen Lambert, president of the Peyton Anderson Foundation. She adds, “This revitalization of the historic studio space will be vital to attracting and retaining talent, fostering the arts, contributing to the tourism industry and creating a keen sense of place and identity from that Macon music sound.”
Lynn Murphey, Knight Foundation program director for Macon says “Accelerating the revitalization of Downtown Macon and energizing its creative economy is essential to fostering the city’s future as a great place to live, work and play. The rebuilding of Capricorn Studios will fill a key gap in the downtown landscape, adding to the area’s vibrancy and connecting the university community to downtown’s cultural life.”
According to the release, the building is actually four historic structures that were assembled into one complex. “Capricorn Sound Studios was purchased in 1967 by Redwal Music, a company owned by Mercer alumnus Phil Walden, his brother Alan Walden, and Otis Redding, whose career was beginning to take off before his untimely death later that year,” as stated in the release. It’s also noted that the studio opened in 1969, when Capricorn Records and the Allman Brothers Band were established in Macon.
Mercer University is planning a daylong series of events on Dec. 3 to celebrate the studio’s re-opening. The University says this celebration will include live music and tours of the renovated facility.
To learn more about Mercer Music at Capricorn, visit.
Peyton Anderson Foundation
Since its establishment 30 years ago, the Peyton Anderson Foundation has invested more than $103 million in Central Georgia, helping touch the lives of thousands. Peyton Anderson, owner in the 1960s and 70s of the Macon Telegraph and the Macon News, is credited as a highly successful businessman, family man, civic leader and philanthropist. According to the release, in his will, Mr. Anderson assigned the majority of his estate for charitable purposes to benefit his hometown of Macon and Central Georgia. His instructions were, “Reward good doers, not do-gooders.” Grants are awarded in the program areas of arts and culture, community development, education, health and human services, according to the release. For more information about Peyton Anderson’s legacy, the Foundation, or the grant application process, visit.
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. The foundation says they invest in journalism, the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Their goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, to which they believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit.
Mercer University was founded in 1833. The school is accredited as a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. With more than 8,700 students enrolled in 12 schools and colleges, on major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; medical school campuses in Macon, Savannah and Columbus; and at regional academic centers in Henry and Douglas counties, Mercer is ranked as a Doctoral University with High Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education and ranked among the top tier of national research universities by U.S. News & World Report, according to the release. In addition, the Mercer Health Sciences Center includes the University’s School of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Health Professions and Pharmacy. Mercer University says it’s affiliated with five teaching hospitals. Those hospitals include Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; The Medical Center, Navicent Health, and Coliseum Medical Centers in Macon; and Midtown Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The University says they also have an educational partnership with Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Warner Robins. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is one of only 286 institutions nationwide to shelter a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society; one of eight institutions to hold membership in the Georgia Research Alliance; and the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program, according to the University. For more information visit.