Ed Boutwell

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Ed Boutwell

Clarence Edward Boutwell (born June 21, 1937; died January 25, 2023) was a recording engineer and founder of Birmingham's first commercial recording studio, Boutwell Studios, in 1961.

Boutwell, a nephew of former Birmingham Mayor Albert Boutwell, grew up in Birmingham, except for a year in high school in Huntsville, during which time he participated in an astronomy club led by Wernher von Braun. Later he was offered a job in the engineering staff at WAPI-AM, and found himself setting up recording sessions for advertisement and ad jingles. He also worked informally on weekends in Nashville at RCA studios and at Bradley's Recording Studio. He has been informally credited with adding the "hup-Two-three-four" coda to Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans" in 1959.

Boutwell left WAPI to start his own home studio business with his wife Fran in 1961. Soon he moved out of the house in Homewood to a small garage in English Village. He began writing and recording radio commercials, using the rock & roll bands that came by as session musicians in exchange for studio time. Among the groups he recorded were the Allman Joys and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. He recorded Byron Berline on fiddle for the soundtrack of Stay Hungry.

Boutwell Studios relocated to 720 23rd Street South, expanding to four studios. Greg Bass, Courtney Haden and Mark Harrelson came on board, and Ed's daughter, Nancy Boutwell, took charge of management. Boutwell wrote more than 850 jingles over the course of his career. He won three Clio awards for his jingle for Southern Airlines in 1975. He produced the fight song for the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer club. As an engineer, he is credited with contributing to development of the "rolling punch" process for electronic editing.

Boutwell retired from working at his studio full time in 1986. He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1991 and into the Birmingham Record Collectors Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also a member of the Alabama Historical Radio Society.


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