Rick Hall, the songwriter, producer, publisher, studio head and the man who came to be known as “The Father of Muscle Shoals Music,” has died at the age of 85. The sad news of Hall’s passing was reported on Tuesday morning by Reverb.com.
Hall’s FAME Studios in Alabama produced a huge amount of hits over the years, including 75 gold and platinum records. Among these were Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," Etta James’s Tell Mama, and Wilson Pickett’s “Land of a Thousand Dances.”
Much tragedy in his early family life lead Hall to focus on music, leaving his factory job to play in bands and write songs.
Hall’s first successes came as a result of his songwriting ability; Roy Orbison recorded his “Sweet and Innocent” in 1958 and George Jones released his “Achin, Breakin’ Heart” in 1961. It was Hall’s music publishing company however, Florence Alabama Music Enterprises, that gave FAME Studios its name and established Muscle Shoals as a sought-after recording destination.
The first hit to come out of FAME was Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On.” The studio and its regular session players, which included Spooner Oldham, David Briggs, and songwriter/producer Dan Penn, would make records with Otis Redding, Clarence Carter, Percy Sledge, and other black soul stars.
FAME continued to record Southern soul records throughout the ‘70s, along with new ventures into country music. Many of the original session players moved across town to form Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, while Hall continued to run FAME with great success, receiving a Grammy Trustees Award for his “significant contributions to the field of recording.”
Many of those in the industry have paid tributes to Hall on social media outlets since his passing yesterday morning:
Without Rick Hall, there would be no Candi Staton… He was not only my producer but one of my best friends and I’m going to miss him… pic.twitter.com/XkJKjde7rs
— Candi Staton (@IamCandiStaton) January 2, 2018
Singer/songwriter and producer Mac McAnally tweeted this heartfelt message:
The Music world changed today with The passing of the great Rick Hall. Rick was The Godfather of Muscle Shoals Music.
I am blessed to have learned at his feet and happy we have so much fine work to remember him by. Godspeed my friend! pic.twitter.com/GLiKO4Nqkz
— Mac McAnally (@macmcanally) January 2, 2018