Calgary

NMC behind-the-scenes tours continue with King Eddy relaunch just around the corner

If you are wondering what Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Dire Straits, Deep Purple, Lou Reed, Bob Marley, Horslips, Fleetwood Mac have in common, it’s Calgary’s National Music Centre to the rescue.

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio highlights 1-hour experience that opens up west block to public

NMC Backstage Pass Tours 0:36

If you are wondering what Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Dire Straits, Deep Purple, Lou Reed, Bob Marley, Horslips and Fleetwood Mac have in common, Calgary's National Music Centre has the answer.

They all recorded in the infamous Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, which is now a must-see part of the centre's Backstage Pass Tours running Sunday afternoons.

"On this side are the bulk of our instrument collection and the recording studios," lead interpreter Nathaniel Schmidt told Radio-Canada this week, referring to the centre's west block, which was previously unavailable to the general public.

Backstage Pass Tours lead interpreter Nathaniel Schmidt says the west block was previously open only to artists. It's now open to the public on Sundays at noon and 1:30 p.m. in tours of up to 15 people. (Nelly Alberola/Radio-Canada)

"This is a look into the side of NMC and Studio Bell that is used by the artists and our artists in residence, people that come here to record. You will get to see some really old instruments, some really rare instruments, and you get to be up close to them."

The east side of the centre, which opened Canada Day 2016, houses about 100 musical instruments and artifacts, whereas the west block has three times that amount, some dating back 450 years.

You can peak inside the infamous Rolling Stones Mobile Studio as part of the National Music Centre's Backstage Pass Tours that run Sunday afternoon. (Nelly Alberola/Radio-Canada)

And while the new tour will include demonstrations, there's no touching please.

"You get to get as close to breathing distance, but you can't quite touch them," Schmidt said.

In addition to artifacts and instruments, the tour covers three recording facilities: Olympic Studios console, Trident A-Range console, and the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.

The mobile studio came about after the Rolling Stones were looking to have more flexibility than the set hours of most professional recording studios.

The west block houses about 300 artifacts and instruments, about three times what's displayed in the main part of the National Music Centre. (Nelly Alberola/Radio-Canada)

Also included in the tour is a harpsichord that is several hundred years old, and the world's biggest synthesizer, used by musicians such as Stevie Wonder, and a piano signed by more than 100 well-known musicians.

The tours, which run Sundays at noon and 1:30 p.m. in groups of 15, include experiencing the renovated King Eddy. But if you want to enjoy a cold one at the famous watering hole, you'll have to wait for summer when it formally reopens as a drinking establishment.

The Backstage Pass Tours feature a piano signed by 130 well-known musicians. (Nelly Alberola/Radio-Canada)

With files from Radio-Canada's Nelly Alberola