118 – Milton Sledge: Studio Legend, Musician Hall of Fame Inductee, Recording with Garth Brooks, Paying it Forward
Milton Sledge is a session drummer best known for a string of sessions in Muscle Shoals, Alabama as well as several albums with country super-star Garth Brooks. With Garth, Milton wrote and played drums on several key albums including the self-titled 1987 Capitol release, “No Fences,” “Ropin’ The Wind” and “The Chase.” Milton can be heard on many recordings including those of: John Anderson, Barbara Mandrell, Tracey Lawrence, Jo Dee Messina, Randy Travis, The Amazing Rhythmn Aces, Asleep at the Wheel, Mark Chesnutt, Paul Overstreet, Bryan White, Becky Hobbs, Crystal Gayle, Neal McCoy, Juice Newton, Eddie Rabbitt, The Statler Brothers, Gene Watson, Kathy Mattea, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Alabama, Hal Ketchum, Shenendoah, Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, Chris LeDoux, Vince Gill, Toby Keith and Garth Brooks, just to name a few. As a songwriter, Milton has written for Pat Alger and Bruce Bouton along with Garth Brooks. Milton has played drums on over 30 number 1 singles and the albums that he has played on have sold over 180 million copies.
In October of 2016, Milton along with the hand picked group of musicians dubbed “The G-Men” were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame for their work and creative contributions to almost every Garth Brooks recording.
Originally from Decatur, Alabama, Milton grew up in the Clements community, west of Athens, AL, not far from Muscle Shoals, an area known for its wide variety of music. After graduation from high school and a stint in the Army Band, Milton returned to the Shoals area to attend college and study music at the University of North AL. While in college there, Milton started to pursue his dream of playing in the recording studios of Muscle Shoals. He worked his way through the ranks and worked regularly in the studios there for 4-5 years. Soon he began to receive more and more calls for recording sessions in Nashville. This prompted him to move there in 1984, where he has been a mainstay in the Nashville recording studios ever since.
In February of 2014, Milton moved back to his hometown of Athens to “give back” by offering his expertise/assistance to local musicians. He is once again an active part of the music scene in the Shoals area, as well as Nashville. Since his return, he has been writing with various songwriters and playing at local venues. As well as producing. He has also played with the Muscle Shoals All-Stars and recorded at Fame Studio, The Nutthouse, all in Muscle Shoals AL.
In this episode, Milton talks about:
Recording at the original Muscle Shoals Sound Studio at 3614 Jackson Highway
Tuning the kit for different rooms
The “Muscle Shoals sound”
Recording all the Garth Brooks records
Changes in the Nashville studio scene over the last 30 years
Giving back, paying it forward
Getting a good ear mix in the studio