The Nashville Chapter of the Audio Engineering Society honors Paul Buff, Robert E. Mulloy, Charlie Tallent, Jim Malloy, Tom Pick, and Randy Kling with the AES Nashville Lifetime Achievement Award, created to honor the city’s trailblazing recording engineers.
Held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on June 7, 2015, the event begins with a career overview of the late Paul Buff (1936 – 2015), who created Pal Recording Studio in Cucamonga, California (known for instrumental surf recordings including “Wipeout,” the original demo of “Pipeline,” and “Tijuana”) and worked at Original Sound Studios in Los Angeles.
Buff’s longtime friend and business partner Bob Todrank and AES Nashville’s resident historian Michael Janas offer insight into Buff’s many professional highlights, including his role in creating Kepex (keyable program expander), which reduces noise in the studio, and the launch of Allison Research, a marketing company created to promote Buff’s gear. Todrank accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award plaque on his behalf.
Robert E. “Bob” Mulloy” (1933 – 1998) is remembered as a founder of Belmont University’s music business program in 1972, and for his lasting influence on a generation of engineers and producers. Doug Howard and Jeff Balding offer stories, and video testimonials from producers Frank Rogers and Mark Wright and studio owner Pat McMakin are shared. Mulloy’s wife and children accept the plaque in his memory.
A conversation with Charlie Tallent opens with an early 1960s photo from Bradley’s Barn, where Tallent worked as chief engineer. He later joined Country Music Hall of Fame member Cowboy Jack Clement at Jack Clement Recording Studios, cutting records with Ian & Sylvia and producer Todd Rundgren. After retiring from the audio industry, Tallent—who studied electrical engineering at Nashville's Vanderbilt University in his youth—became interested in computers, and in a full-circle move, joined Vanderbilt University Medical Center as a network manager.
Jim Malloy speaks about his experience working in Los Angeles studios, including Radio Recorders and RCA Studios (where he recorded with Henry Mancini on songs like “The Pink Panther” and “Charade”). Country Music Hall of Fame member Chet Atkins recruited Malloy to Nashville in 1965, and Malloy spent three years as an engineer at Nashville’s RCA Studio, recording Elvis Presley’s “How Great Thou Art,” among others. Malloy shares stories of his time as an engineer on “The Johnny Cash Show,” as well as recording experiences with Townes Van Zandt and Sammi Smith. His son, producer David Malloy, quotes wisdom from his father, saying, “The best producers are engineers first.”
Tom Pick, who had engineered R&B records for RCA in Chicago, served as a substitute engineer in Nashville while Jim Malloy was briefly hospitalized. When Malloy moved on from RCA, Pick applied for the job. His RCA credits include classic recordings by Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, and Jerry Reed. He later worked at Porter Wagoner’s Fireside Studios and helped to build Merit Studio. Pick also engineered multiple albums for polka artist Jimmy Sturr.
Randy Kling, a mastering engineer, traces his career path from Milwaukee to Chicago, where he joined the RCA staff and learned from Tom Pick. Kling moved to Nashville in 1972, he says, for the regular paychecks and ample work. He talks about microphones and other gear he’s favored over the years, and offers perspective on songs he mastered, such as the Guess Who’s “American Woman” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”
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