Macon’s southern rock scene was forever changed when Capricorn Sound Studios opened for the first time 50 years ago. Once a recording spot for iconic groups such as the Allman Brothers Band and Wet Willie, the dilapidated Capricorn Records building saddened Macon’s rock fans for years. Now the studio will open for a second time this December as Mercer Music at Capricorn.
“This place holds so many incredible memories, I don’t know where I could start,” said Chuck Leavell, a former member of the Allman Brothers Band and current musical director of the Rolling Stones. “You know, we’ve made a lot of music in this building.”
The restoration was funded by donations from the Peyton Anderson Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Mercer University President Bill Underwood said.
“Mercer owned this place when I first arrived in 2006,” Underwood said. “My heart sank with despair when I saw it.”
Restoring Capricorn Studios is a way to honor part of Macon’s music history. Leavell said the studio has come back to life.
“It does my heart so good to know that it’s not just gonna fall into dilapidation and just fade away, because it just can’t do that,” Leavell said.
The restored Mercer Music at Capricorn will feature rehearsal rooms, offices space, sound stages, a museum and the iconic center sound studio.
Mercer will kick off the opening of the studio with two days of festivities and music. A public ceremony will begin Dec. 3 with performances from students at Mercer’s Robert McDuffy Center for Strings, the Otis Redding Foundation’s Dream Choir and Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie. The studio will then open for tours with more live music followed by Capricorn Revival, a concert at the Macon City Auditorium.
“Mr. Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie will be the headlining act that day, and I can’t wait to see President Underwood introduce them on stage. I think that’s gonna be really fantastic,” said Jamie Weatherford of Rock Candy Tours, a Macon music history tour company.
Leavell said the opening will honor Macon’s rich music heritage.
“This is a great day to celebrate music in Macon, Georgia and the history of music,” Leavell said.