Joe Mills, Mike Bradley, Lou Bradley, Ron “Snake” Reynolds, and mastering engineer Denny Purcell are honored with the AES Nashville Lifetime Achievement Award during an annual event from the Nashville Chapter of the Audio Engineering Society, held June 5, 2016, at the Country Musici Hall of Fame and Museum.
AES Nashville chairman Mike Porter opens with remarks about the organization’s origins, citing the event as a way to honor recording engineers, mastering engineers, and technical engineers. Michael Janas, an instructor at Belmont University, reads a letter written by Eddie Stubbs about the importance of engineers. The two-hour program uses photos, audio samples of the producers’ work, and video remembrances from the musicians, artists, and producers who worked with them.
Janas introduces Joe Mills, a longtime engineer at Bradley’s Barn, headed by Country Music Hall of Fame member Owen Bradley. Mills created studio equipment that is still sought after by engineers, including the “Mor Me Box” and Mills Microphones. Mills offers thanks to Harold Bradley, Jerry Bradley, and Owen Bradley for the opportunities they offered.
Describing a shift in country music styles in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as louder instruments and distorted guitars became more prevalent, Janas puts Mike Bradley at the forefront. Bradley became the studio manager at Sound Shop in 1990, which he later owned with Don Cook. After a video testimonial from Cook, Mike Bradley says there was never a day that he dreaded going to work.
Lou Bradley, an Army veteran who worked in radio, built a foundation at Master Sound in Atlanta in the late 1960s. He became a staff engineer at Columbia Recording Studio in 1969, where he worked until the studio closed in 1982. In his remarks, he thanks his wife and family, acknowledging how much time he spent in the studio, and remembers the sonic quality and legendary artists of those days at Columbia B.
Ron “Snake” Reynolds—a Nashville native who worked with George Jones, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Shania Twain, among others—is credited for his background as an architect, guitarist, and songwriter. He worked at Nugget Records before taking a job as a staff engineer at Columbia Recording Studios from 1972 to 1982. He explains his success by saying that God chose to place him in the company of giants.
Denny Purcell (1950-2002) is remembered fondly for creating Georgetown Masters and for his love of family. Purcell mastered more than 8,000 albums in his career and “Billboard” recognized Georgetown Masters as the Mastering Facility of the Year in 1998. His family accepts the award in his memory.
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