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The South is a haven for recording artists to take to studios in towns large and small. Probably the best known of these are in the Northwest Alabama town of Muscle Shoals, home of Rick Hall's FAME Recording Studios, at 603 Avalon Ave. Artists including The Allman Brothers Band and The Rolling Stones have laid down tracks within its walls. Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in nearby Sheffield is another, and Cher made its address popular after recording her hit album, "3614 Jackson Highway," there. Other artists recording there include Aretha Franklin and Percy Sledge. The nearby Alabama towns of Florence and Tuscumbia have also witnessed an explosion of talent, but some other studios beyond The Shoals where artists tell their story through song include:

* Royal Studios in Memphis, where artists including Al Green, Ann Peebles and Mark Ronson, in collaboration with Bruno Mars, recorded their hits.

* Sun Studios in Memphis, where Elvis Presley recorded hits including "That's All Right" and Johnny Cash cashed in on "Folsom Prison Blues."

* Quad Studios in Nashville -- a one-hit wonder that saw the recording of Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville."

* Miami's Criteria Recording Studios, which produced such hits as "Layla" for Derek and the Dominos, and Jame's Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and the Bee Gees' "Nights on Broadway."

* Stax Records headquarters in Memphis, which turned out hits from Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes, but today also features the state-of-the-art Museum of American Soul Music.

* RCA Studios A and B in Nashville, where the Everly Brothers recorded "All I Have To Do Is Dream" and Dolly Parton immortalized "Jolene."

* PatchWerk Recording Studios in Atlanta, which, though not a familiar name, has produced big sounds, including Usher's "You Make Me Wanna."

* American Recording Studio in Memphis, which flies under most radar but produced such major hits as Elvis' "In the Ghetto," Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man" and Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."

* Sea-Saint Studios in New Orleans, which became a major player in the recording industry with LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade" and Paul McCartney's "Listen to What the Man Said."

Incidentally, both FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound remain active studios with artists coming in to record several days a week. Would-be visitors to FAME can make reservations for tours at FameStudios.com. Make Muscle Shoals Sound tour reservations by calling 256-978-5151 or visiting MuscleShoalsSoundStudio.org.

- Anne Braly
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