From legends like Steve Cropper to newcomers like TCM Records Canadian country star Craig Moritz, Music Row producer Eddie Gore has been a behind-the-scenes magician behind many of Nashville’s most exciting recordings for years.
Cropper is the Memphis-born guitar wizard who John Belushi says “play it, Steve” to in the Blues Brothers’ classic 1979 recording of “Soul Man” from the movie “The Blues Brothers,” in which Cropper appeared; in 1967 Steve also played on the original version of “Soul Man” by Sam&Dave.
And that’s just skimming the surface.
Steve also co-wrote one of the most beloved pop/R&B hits of the 1960s, Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On The) Dock Of The Bay,” which debuted on the Billboard charts in January 1968, just weeks after Otis had perished in a plane crash.
Cropper has lived and worked in Nashville for years, and a couple years back when he decided to step away from the day-to-day Music Row grind, he hired Eddie Gore to build and renovate a new studio in a building Steve owned across from the ASCAP building.
It was an ideal choice. Gore had both the unique combination of skill sets that Steve sought – the nuts-and-bolts technical know-how to build the studio plus the artistic sensibility and trained ears to make exciting, commercial recordings there.
One of the most important lessons Steve taught Eddie came when Gore asked Cropper if this new studio would be a demo studio.
“Hell,” Cropper replied. “I’ve never played on a demo in my life.”
“What do you mean?” Eddie asked.
“What I mean is that when I play, I’m playing for real,” Cropper said.
So now when new clients like Craig Moritz approach Eddie, perhaps beginning with demo recordings, Gore says: “I don’t make demos. I make records.”
This passion begins the minute the artist walks in the studio door.
“It’s about performance. Period,” Eddie says. “I ask them, why are you doing this in the first place? What are you trying to say on this record? It’s all about capturing that period on tape.”
Gore is one of the few Music Row mavens who actually grew up here, attending first Father Ryan High and then Belmont University, where he majored in music business and also studied orchestration.
Even earlier, Gore had loved pounding away at the family piano. His father was not a musician, but had a unique link to Music Row.
“Dad had incredible talent in baseball, and here he became the ace of all the record labels’ softball teams,” Eddie says. “To thank him, they would pack up his little Fiat with all their latest albums.”
So Eddie was hearing all the best stuff, and learning how to make it at Belmont.
When Craig Moritz’s manager told Craig about Eddie, Moritz called Gore out of the blue.
“We just got to talking about building a relationship,” Gore says. “He started playing me some of his stuff, and I told him that he really knocked me out vocally.”
After Moritz came to Music City to work with Gore first-hand, Eddie learned something else.
“Craig Moritz has a monster work ethic,” Gore says. “He was touring and promoting, doing all he could in the indy world. He’s on the phone, booking himself, and I quickly saw that Craig was a guy I wanted to team up and work with, the kind of guy who’s gonna work twice as hard as you.”
Soon, their music began to cross borders. Moritz hired Gore to come north to Calgary, and start making recordings in Canada.
“I was really excited about that,” says Eddie, whose wife Laurie works at Show Dog/Universal, the label home to Trace Adkins and Toby Keith. “He asked me to fly up to Calgary and mix what we had so far. Those guys are fantastic up there, their studio is excellent.”
So from Music Row to Northern Canada and all points in between, Eddie Gore continues to impact country radio and music of several genres with his unique musical vision.
By Phil Sweetland