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)
Here’s Rufus Thomas, early jock on the station.
Memphis was real music city with a lot of talented musicans.
This is John Pepper and his WDIA partner Bert Ferguson.
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.
A recording session in april 1960
The bass player is identified as Jackie Thomas (photo’s appear on a Facebook reunion site)
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).
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.
More and more radio id jingles are going to be the target of the company.
And Pepper Tanner’s going to be a growing name.
Here’s collector Ken R. Deutsch with the complete work of Pepper Tanner, making him as fuzzy with luck as the photo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Tanner was also swapping air time for a deodarant he sold: Everdry.
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)
Later they took over the whole building. This was the front in building in 2006, still with a Tanner tag on it.
And the same building nowadays.
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.
HQ now for a insurance company
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.
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.
Bill Tanner and his wife Pat (both in the middle) in the Memphishigh society
Musician and singer David Mayo in the same studio.
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.
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
Jimi Jamison was one of the lead singers. He got some fame singing the Baywatch theme
And his wife Debbie Jamison
And singer Lisa Chase, here seen in one of Tanner’s production studios.
Janie Fricke, one of the other voices, and a C&W in her own right
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.
Pete recording at Tanner (a photo from his book Be of Good cheer).
And this is the original case that the sales men took with them ob the road.
Some promotions in the Radio and records magazine.
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).
They did a lot of business there.
On the left Carl Reynolds, in the middle Keith Lee again
This is William B. Tanner himself, after selling his company he started buying billboards and became the southern Billboard-King.
This is how it was announced.
Tanner himself is getting rough times after all his bartel deals.
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.
Tanner died in 2005
Pepper outlived him by a year and is also buried in Memphis
And every hit has a sequel.
The first one to sail under the Media General Flag.