John Fry, the founder of Memphis' Ardent Studios, has died at the age of 69. The Commercial Appeal reports that Fry died of cardiac arrest early this morning in Memphis.

As the owner of Ardent Studios, Fry was also responsible for producing Big Star's first two classic albums, 1972's '#1 Record' and 1974's 'Radio City.' Their third album was also recorded there with a different producer.

He originally founded the studio in his parents' garage in the early '60s when he was still a teen, but eventually moved it to a bigger location by the middle of the decade. Many up-and-coming producers and engineers worked on their earliest projects at Ardent, among them Jim Dickinson (who worked with everyone from Bob Dylan to the Replacements) and John Hampton, who passed away late last week.

Over the years, Ardent hosted such artists as Led Zeppelin (who recorded part of 'Led Zeppelin III' there in 1970), the Allman Brothers Band, ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan. R&B stars Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes and the Staple Singers also recorded there during the '60s and '70s.

Fry was instrumental in getting many of the artists to record at his studio, which gave their records a distinctive sound swamped in southern soul. He was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame just a little over a month ago, on Nov. 6.

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