Memphis is stunned by the loss of John Fry, founder of Ardent Studios. Following the loss of engineer John Hampton last Saturday, our music community feels like a biblical plague is upon us.
Fry’s combination of technical diligence and artistic experimentation was unique. His legacy is larger than the studio or recordings that he leaves behind. The mics, the rooms, and the records are sacred objects in Memphis. But it’s the people he influenced who will determine his legacy.
One of Fry’s many proteges, Pete Matthews, recently said in passing, “Memphis guys just know how to record acoustic guitars.” It’s true, and most learned from Fry or from someone who learned from him.
Jim Stewart’s studio is gone. Sam Phillip’s studio was restored. Fry’s place endured, a testament to his love for music and audio. We miss him and wonder how Memphis’ production world will survive in his absence. We look forward to reflecting on his and John Hampton’s influence in this community and the world at large. From a musical standpoint — from Hot Buttered Soul to Skillet — Fry’s influence is fortunately inescapable. Losing him and Hampton at the same time seems like a lot to endure, even for Memphis. Hang in there, and make a joyful noise for the lord of the manor. Rest in peace, John Fry.
View article on The Memphis Flyer.