W.B. Tanner & Pepper Tanner & MGBS photo tribute

Pepper & Tanner introductie

Radiostation WDIA in Memphis (the one Elvis heard his first black music) was the origin of the Pepper Sound studios (which morphed into Pepper Tanner in the sixties). One of the founders was John R. Pepper III. They started recording commercials jingles in the basement (© Unknown maker)wdia rufus thomas

Here’s Rufus Thomas, early jock on the station.

W.B. Tanner - Welcome to Memphis 003

Memphis was real music city with a lot of talented musicans.


This is John Pepper and his WDIA partner Bert Ferguson.

Pepper Sound Studios - 62 Diana street Memphis - Joe D'Gerolamo

He started the Pepper Sound studio soon after – this is the exterior of the Pepper recording facility at 62 Diana Street in Memphis (since long disappeared) with musician Joe D’Gerolamo. Later they mived to 51 S. Florence on the other side of the block.

Pepper Sound Studios - Plaat 002
Pepper started to record local artists first, spreading out services to commercial jingles.


A recording session in april 1960

Bass Jackie Thomas

The bass player is identified as Jackie Thomas (photo’s appear on a Facebook reunion site)

Pepper Tanner - Recording session 002

This is the only known photo of a recording session at  Pepper, probably 1958. Larry Muhoberac (of the later Elvis Las Vegas show) is playing piano, singers left to right: Gene Maharrey, Cyd Mosterrer, Nancy Adams, Ernie Bernhardt.


Pepper founded the company with a partner Floyd Huddleston (here seen with his wife Nancy Adams (who sang still years after at Pepper and William B. Tanner).

William B. Tanner became managing director in the early sixties.

Pepper Tanner - Acquisitions 1964

Gradually he did some take overs

And soon crammed in his own name in the Memphis company name. Pepper Tanner was a barter company, swapping jingles and music libraries against air time or whatever goods.

A printed ad in Billboard (april 1968), John Pepper starts to move out at this time, still holding some shares until 1972, which he sells by then. He was forced to do so, some say.


Pepper Tanner - Doosje 004

More and more radio id jingles are going to be the target of the company.

Pepper Tanner - Doosje 007

And Pepper Tanner’s going to be a growing name.

Ken high school surrounded by Pepper demos

Here’s collector Ken R. Deutsch with the complete work of Pepper Tanner, making him as fuzzy with luck as the photo.

Pepper Tanner - Spectra Sonics - Ardent studio 1970 002

There are no photos available of the Pepper Sound studios in the heigh days of the sixties, but they used this mixing console by Spectra Sonics in 1965.

Pepper Tanner - Spectra Sonics - Ardent studio 1970 003

Here’s one seen from the Ardent Studio’s in Memphis in 1970


We know that as Welton H. Jetton, the chief engineer of Pepper Sound Studio bought some for Pepper too, and he developed his own Audiotronic mixing consoles from that.


The Audiosonic 501 became an industry standard, shaping the sound of Stax in memphis too.

TM - Ken Justiss - Audiotronics 501

Eventually TM bought one in 1978, here’s Ken Justiss proudly posing with one of them. And so the Memphis based company shaped the Dallas sound too.

Some of the Pepper Tanner packages became hits in the radio industry

Dallas rather looked down on the Memphis sound. Pepper Tanner tried to get the ‘Dallas vocals’ on their own jingles, but none of singers was eager to move to Dallas, and so Tanner came down to Dallas to record in het IMB studios at Fitzhugh.

Pepper Tanner - Hits in 1969 en 1970

These are two of the big hits form 1969 and 1970

Pepper Tanner moved to 1349 Regal Row in Dallas – until they decided to go pack up and return to Memphis. TM Productions moved into the building after that and discovered the Pepper Tanner logo on the floor of studio A. They sang jingles for years with Pepper Tanner under their feet. (© Ken Justiss)

In 1974 Pepper’s name disappeared all together. It is now a William B. Tanner company.

W.B. Tanner - Doosje detail 07

W.B. Tanner - Everdry 001

Tanner was also swapping air time for a deodarant he sold: Everdry.

W.B. Tanner - Zack Hernandez

Many of the jingles are being made in one of the five small houses Tanner owned in South Florence street & Diana Street in Memphis, here’s Zak Hernandez near the gate. (© Ren Groot)

The buildings were all pulled down in the seventies, the area is a parking lot now. In 1972 Tanner moved to the second floor of the building of the First Tennessee Narional Bank. (© Google Streetview)

W.B. Tanner - Gebouw - 2076 Union Avenue 030

Later they took over the whole building. This was the front in building in 2006, still with a Tanner tag on it.

W.B. Tanner - Gebouw - 2076 Union Avenue 007

And the same building nowadays.

Sun studio

The Sun studio is 2,6 miles uptown on the same Union Avenue


And then there’s the former Elvis home, on former Union Avenue 47 in Memphis, now Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Eventually Tanner moved al the administration of his businesses to this building in 1977 on 2741 Union Avenue Extended, a couple of miles down the road.

W.B. Tanner - Gebouw - 2741 Union Avenue Ext 014
It’s still there.

W.B. Tanner - Gebouw - 2741 Union Avenue Ext 032

HQ now for a insurance company

W.B. Tanner - Gebouw - 1705 Poplar - Memphis (oude TMI studio) 013

But the recording facilities stayed where they werem Many of the jingles were recorded in an old theatre in Memphis on 1705 Poplar Avenue in Memphis, now the Evergreen theatre.

W.B. Tanner - Gebouw - 1705 Poplar - Memphis (oude TMI studio) 110

It’s a rather big building, used for tracking sessions and developing new jingle packages. Pilot singing was done here and remixing in the front of the building.


Here are the singers on the groundflour – Bill Tanner is watching from the former projection booth with a customer. According to recording engineer Mark Goodman the setup of the choir in 1977 was (left to right): Marv Shaw (ex PAMS), probably Ed Key, Bill Flores, Judy Rodman and an unknown singer.

W.B. Tanner - Echtpaar Tanner tennist (midden)

Bill Tanner and his wife Pat  (both in the middle) in the Memphishigh society

W.B. Tanner - Zanger - David Mayo

Musician and singer David Mayo in the same studio.

W.B. Tanner - Bill Flores, Bruce Wermuth, Nancy Adams Huddleston, David Deacon-Joyner, Dave Deacon-Joyner and Kelli Bruce Workman.

Here’s another line up, showling (left to right): Bill Flores, Bruce Wermuth, Nancy Adams Huddleston (wife of the former founder)  and David Deacon-Joyner.

W.B. Tanner - Zanger - Bruce Wermuth

Bruce Wermuth blowing the Tanner kazoo.

W.B. Tanner - Koortje 003

And the others, when a promo film was shot in the studio.


This is one of the other recording studios on 51 Diana street en partly from Poplar. SEE them sing

W.B. Tanner - Zanger - Jimi Jamison 005

Jimi Jamison was one of the lead singers. He got some fame singing the Baywatch theme

Debbie Ja

And his wife Debbie Jamison

W.B. Tanner - Zangeres - Lisa Chase in tanner production studio 1982

And singer Lisa Chase, here seen in one of Tanner’s production studios.

W.B. Tanner - Zangeres - Janie Fricke 002

Janie Fricke, one of the other voices, and a C&W in her own right

Tanner - Judy Rotman

Judy Rodman

W.B. Tanner - Pete Pedersen

Pete Pedersen was one of the composers and arrangers who shaped the Tanner sound. He was a harmonica legend in  the USA, this is the cover photo of the biography Jaine Rodack wrote.

W.B. Tanner - Pete Pederson recording at Tanner

Pete recording at Tanner (a photo from his book Be of Good cheer).

Some of the titles of Tanner

W.B. Tanner - Koffertje reiziger 002

And this is the original case that the sales men took with them ob the road.

W.B. Tanner - Advertentie 06.04.1981

W.B. Tanner - Advertentie 03.04.1978

Some promotions in the Radio and records magazine.

All packages were send away in these tiny demo boxes and cassettes

Top Format did a lot of resings of the Tanner stuff in Europe. This is one of the instrumental ‘masters’, just a simple 38 cm/sec tape with the jingle backings to add the singing in The Netherlands.

The business of Top format founder Ren Groot florished in the early eighties. Here he is seen with Carl Reynolds (on the left) and Zak Hernandez on the right – who was the main direcyor of the jingle department. (© Ren Groot).

A Tanner suite during one of the Radio-NAB and salesman Keith Lee. (© Ren Groot)

W.B. Tanner - Advertentie 07.03.1983

They did a lot of business there.

The ‘W.B. Tanner gang’ in a ‘hospitality suite’ with the Dutch guys: Bart van Gogh & Ren Groot)

W.B. Tanner - Zakendoen, Carl Reynolds (l)

On the left Carl Reynolds, in the middle Keith Lee again

W.B. Tanner - Advertentie 04.04.1983

Boasting fame

Tanner himself

This is William B. Tanner himself, after selling his company he started buying billboards and became the southern Billboard-King.

W.B. Tanner - Wordt Media General 003

This is how it was announced.

‘The Best’ of Tanner on a Media General version demo cassette. The company bought Tanner in july 1982.

Here’s another example.

W.B. Tanner - FBI inval 002

Tanner himself is getting rough times after all his bartel deals.

Media General sells the company to TM in1988. The brand disappears soon after that. According to Lisa Tanner they moved everything else to New York in november 1988.

W.B. Tanner - Broadcasting 26.03.1984_bewerkt-1

Tanner was sued by Media General and was locked up for two years after a tax fraude in the nineties and died on December 1st 2005, just before he would habe send to jail for five years after bribing a judge. Media General is still there, but no jingle anymore.

W.B. Tanner - Bill Tanner Graf 2005 001

Tanner died in 2005


Pepper outlived him by a year and is also buried in Memphis

Pepper & Tanner and W.B. Tanner always had a lot of production music libraries.


W.B. Tanner - Libraries - Stereo 142

There really were a lot of them.

W.B. Tanner - Creative sales library 002

W.B. Tanner - Image 45 library 001

W.B. Tanner 04

W.B. Tanner - Mars library 101

Media General - Tape 005
W.B. Tanner - Country and western library 001W.B. Tanner - Tanner Country 003This was the blockbuster amongst them; SOB, the Sound of Broadcasting.These were exclusivly used for commercial jinglesLike this one too.Trendsetter hoes T80ATrendsetter also was a hit everywhere in the world.

W.B. Tanner - rendsetter II

And every hit has a sequel.

W.B. Tanner - Trendsetter folder 006

Tanner got it’s own sound effects library.Some libraries from their later days.

W.B. Tanner - TVS Library 101

W.B. Tanner - TVS Library 001

The first one to sail under the Media General Flag.

Not as big and good as the first ones.Their last one.

Dit is William B. Tanner zelf. Hij stapte na verkoop van zijn bedrijf aan Media General van jingles en commercial-libraries over op Billboards, die grote borden langs de weg, waar hij langzaam maar zeker al een belang in had gekocht. Hij verdween in de jaren negentig twee jaar in de cel wegens belastingfraude, en stierf op 1 december 2005 aan kanker, met een geknakte reputatie.