For Jay Fisher, tinkering with an analog recording studio is a labor of love, his own technical skills and a nostalgia for the days when he could call himself an extended member of the Norman and Vi Petty family, whose legendary studio became one of the cradles of rock ‘n’ roll.
The Pettys had no children, but because they were good friends with Jerry Fisher, Jay Fisher’s father Jay Fisher and his twin sisters Lynne and Lynda were often entertained as children at the Petty home, said Fisher.
Fisher remembers having taquito contests against Norman Petty when Fisher was a child and even meeting a British musician unknown to Fisher at the time named Paul McCartney and his wife Linda, who had come to see the historic studio.
Yes, that Paul McCartney – from the Beatles.
Fisher’s father Jerry was an Air Force-trained electronics technician and, as a civilian, worked with radio tower receivers and other electronic equipment, Fisher said.
Jerry Fisher worked occasionally for Norman Petty, Jay Fisher said, and he would be paid in equipment.
Since Norm Petty kept up with innovations in recording technology, Fisher said, Petty often gave Fisher’s father perfectly good equipment that Petty had traded in to keep up with developments, Fisher said.
As a result, Fisher inherited a slew of analog recording equipment when his father died, he said. And although some have been sold or given away, Jay Fisher has stockpiled enough of this functional equipment to lay the groundwork for his current plan to establish an old-fashioned recording studio in downtown Clovis.
Jay Fisher also has a strong background in electronics and electricity, but now makes a living making high-end custom knives.
Using Norman and Vi Petty Museum space provided by the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce and $400,000 in capital expenditure grant funds, Fisher and his wife Amy oversee the restoration of the type of studio in which the Pettys recorded early success. by Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and other luminaries from the early days of rock.
In fact, Jay and Amy Fisher got married at the museum in May.
Amy Fisher also has a deep knowledge of music and musicians, she and Jay agreed.
Ernie Kos, executive director of Clovis Economic Development, shares Fisher’s vision that the studio would become a tourist attraction for the city.
It would be a working combination of actual studio equipment that recorded the tracks of early rock ‘n’ roll hits from the 1950s and working equipment from that era that works well today.
“We hope tourists could come and do recordings there,” Kos said.
Fisher can point to some of the restored equipment in the studio and know that Buddy Holly recorded through him, and analog reel tape recorders play music from other musical groups, including Jimmy Gilmer and the Raton-based band Fireballs. who recorded “Bottle of Wine,” a 1968 hit, “Sugar Shack” in 1963, and a song called “Torquay” in 1959 that helped inspire “surfer” music in California in the early 1960s, said Fisher.
The recording studio is likely to attract professional musicians because it’s analog, not digital, Fisher said. Musicians and music recording technicians say they miss analog recording, Fisher said, even though the equipment required for analog recording would line entire recording studio walls and clutter tables.
Digital recording equipment can consist of a few fairly portable control devices and a computer loaded with studio software.
Analog gear is bulky, but it delivers clearer sound over a wider frequency range than digital, Fisher said. It gives less weight to low frequencies, like bass notes as well, providing better clarity across all instrumental and vocal ranges.
The sound of analog recording is more faithful to live musical sounds, Fisher said, because it records sounds in limitless waves at pitches higher than humans can hear but can perceive in audible sound quality. .
Digital recording, he says, compromises the natural curve of sound waves. Digital recording doesn’t pick up ranges above the audible, often making it sound muddy with too much emphasis on lower ranges, Fisher said.
Fisher said there has been a resurgence in analog recording in recent years. Rolling Stone magazine and Variety, two entertainment industry publications, have documented this resurgence, which includes soaring sales of vinyl records, which are also analog. The museum’s recording studio also includes a device for cutting original vinyl records.
A renewed interest in analog recording, Fisher said, could bring big talent to Clovis, but he said he wanted to make sure local artists and local storytellers could use the studio as well.
Kos accepted. The studio the Fishers are rebuilding will be community-owned and run, Kos said.
A committee is being formed to guide the development and operation of the studio, she said.
Fisher and Kos also said the studio could provide hands-on training for broadcasting and sound systems students at Clovis Community College and Eastern New Mexico University.
Fisher said the studio was expanding to include separate rooms for singers, loud instruments like brass instruments, and a long, narrow natural echo chamber, all adjacent to the museum.
And there will also be a digital studio, he said, to convert music from digital to analog and vice versa.
Kos added that the exhibits in the current museum are all static. The studio will provide hands-on opportunities to experience the history of the music that was made at the Norman and Vi Petty studio, and this opportunity is likely to make the museum a bigger draw for tourists.