Formerly East Avalon Recorders the original studio was owned and operated by Steve Moore and has produced hits for many artists including: The Kendalls, Mac McAnally, Dobie Gray, George Jones, LeBlanc-Carr, Johnny Paycheck, Narvel Felts, Bruce Channel, Bama, B.J. Thomas, Hank Williams Jr., Michelle Pillar, Clarence Carter, Mink DeVille, Alan Jackson and many others.
Today the studio is known, in the music industry, as Clear Day Studio.
Now owned and operated by Mark Pyle, the studio was primarily used as rehearsal space for the rock band "MESSENGER".
Today, Clear Day Studio is known as one of the best recording studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
By Robert Palmer
Staff Writer December 10, 2001
MUSCLE SHOALS - Mark Pyle was never really aware of the rich heritage of the Muscle Shoals music industry while growing up in Tuscumbia, but now he is trying to become a part of its future.
Pyle, a guitarist and songwriter who fronts the band Messenger, has moved home from South Carolina and has bought the old East Avalon Recording Studio. He has renamed it Clear Day Studio and says he will open its doors for commercial business soon.
There was a time when Muscle Shoals and Sheffield were dotted with recording studios that attracted world-class stars like Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
But as the 1980s drew to a close, so did many of the studios, including East Avalon. The record business was changing, consolidating its operations back to Los Angeles and Nashville. The only studios from the recording heyday to weather the changes were FAME Recording Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, surviving to a great extent on publishing.
Seven months ago, Pyle and his wife, Lisa, were visiting family in Muscle Shoals when he spotted an advertisement in a real estate magazine for the old studio.
"We were going to build a studio in South Carolina. But while we were visiting our parents, I saw that ad," he said. "I called the real estate agent, and she showed me the building, with the understanding there was already a contract on it."But she called back three days later and said the contact had fallen through," Pyle said.After making some quick financial arrangements, Pyle was the proud owner of a once-successful recording studio.
Originally built by Joe Wilson in the 1970s, it was sold to Steve Moore in 1978. Moore was the studio manager at nearby Wishbone Recording Studio when he decided to buy Wilson's studio. He named it East Avalon and upgraded the console from 16 to 24 tracks. Among the artists he recorded there were Hank Williams Jr., George Jones, Mac McAnally, B.J. Thomas, John Prine, Brenda Lee, Jim Stafford and Joe Simon.
Moore sold the studio in 1988, leaving the music business to continue his education, eventually becoming a computer software engineer, according to a biographical sketch housed at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
When Pyle took possession of the cinder-block studio, it was being used as a residence. To his surprise, the interior of the studio had not been altered. The control room, with its angled glass windows, was still there. So was the glass-encased drum booth. The louvered wood panels on the studio walls were just as they were more than 20 years ago. But the MCI analogue control board was gone. So was all the wiring.
For seven months, Pyle drove from Sumter, S.C., almost every weekend to rewire the building and install new digital Mackie and Yamaha recording equipment. He repainted the building, which is nestled in the heart of the Muscle Shoals Industrial Park, added office space and living quarters. One of the first things he did was play a recording he made of his band at a makeshift South Carolina studio through his new equipment in the vintage studio. It was a revelation.
"This room is acoustically correct," he said as the hard-rocking sounds of Messenger play in the background. "I heard things on our earlier recordings for the first time in this room. I'm hearing crackles and distortion that I did not hear earlier. It's amazing."
When Pyle made the decision to move back to Muscle Shoals, two of his band members could not pull up their South Carolina roots. Only his musical partner, guitarist Brian Oseland, will be joining him. They are looking for a bassist and a drummer to round out the band.
Messenger is a positive message band, Pyle said, that has played the Christian rock circuit throughout the Southeast. Though he describes himself as a born-again Christian, Pyle said the band is not necessarily a Christian-rock band.
But his dedication to Christian living, after many years of what he describes as a baseless, alcohol-fueled existence, is reflected in the studio rules.
"This is a drug-free, alcohol-free, smoking-free studio," he said. "I hooked up with a Christian band called the Covenant Keepers in Sumter. I learned then how to be a professional musician," he said. "I learned that if drugs and alcohol are involved, it's a sinking ship. God blessed me from that point." Pyle also achieved a major milestone last year. "My biggest personal goal was to see someone in the audience singing along with my songs. That happened last year at a festival we played," he said. Messenger is signed to the independent Visual Records. "Take It Back" is their latest release. Pyle is a fan of Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Messenger's sound shows their influence.
His first clue that Muscle Shoals was an international recording center was gleaned from Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section guitarist Jimmy Johnson, who made some of Lynyrd Skynyrd's first recordings when the then-unknown band knocked on the door of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.
"The music business was a fantasy world to me when I was younger. I didn't know it existed here," he said. "Jimmy Johnson was a customer of mine when I worked at Miley Buick. I was in the customer service department. He would bring a car in for service and I would drive him back to his house. He started giving me albums he was working on. That's when I became aware of the heritage here. "Now, I want to be a part of the future of the Muscle Shoals music business."
Robert Palmer can be reached at