Quantcast
RICK HALL,
1932-2018

Rick Hall, the owner of FAME Studios who turned Muscle Shoals, Ala., into a hotbed of R&B music in the 1960s, died this morning at his home in Alabama. He was 85.

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame confirmed his death. His health had been declining in recent months.

Starting in 1961, Hall’s studio and its musicians specialized in a relaxed, Southern sound that complemented the anguished vocal style often found in soul music of the day. Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and other R&B stars recorded landmark records at the studio, which Hall kept alive for decades with a vibrant music publishing operation.

A musician and a songwriter, he landed songs with George Jones, Brenda Lee and Roy Orbison before forming FAME Publishing in 1959 in Florence, Ala., with Billy Sherrill and Tom Stafford. Hall, whose story was documented in Greg Camalier’s 2013 film Muscle Shoals and a 2015 biography written with Peter Guralnick, took over the company soon thereafter, moving to Muscle Shoals in 1961 where he produced the studio’s first hit, Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On.”

They moved the studio to its current location in 1964 and the first record cut there, Jimmy Hughes’ “Steal Away,” went Top 20 on the newly formed FAME label.

R&B acts began to flock to the studio and were often surprised to find an all-white rhythm section of Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, Jimmy Johnson and David Hood as the house band. Among the hits recorded at FAME were Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman”; Otis Redding’s “You Left the Water Running”; Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man” and “Do Right Woman”; Etta James’ “Tell Mama”; Pickett’s “Mustang Sally, “Land of 1,000 Dances” and other hits; Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away” and “Patches”; and Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music.”

In 1969, FAME’s house band left Hall to found their own Muscle Shoals Sound studio, which would attract the likes of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Paul Simon. FAME quickly became a studio of choice for pop musicians, among them The Osmonds, Mac Davis, Paul Anka and Jerry Reed.

Hall and Capitol Records struck a JV deal for the FAME label in 1972, which led to 29 R&B hits and nine Top 40 records. He moved to United Artists at the end of the deal.

Hall sold the FAME publishing catalog to EMI in 1989 and created a new publishing company with his three sons. Hall had consistent success in publishing, scoring hits over the last two decades with a litany of country artists, among them The Dixie Chicks, Shenandoah, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.

Among the artists who have used FAME in recent years are Jason Isbell, Band of Horses, Drive By Truckers, Bettye Lavette and Jamey Johnson.

Hall received a Recording Academy Trustees’ Award in 2014 and was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1985.

Neil Portnow of the Recording Academy issued the following statement:

Rick Hall was an acclaimed songwriter and record producer widely recognized as the "Father of Muscle Shoals Music." Throughout his career, Rick helped create a distinctive sound on country, R&B, and soul recordings for many prominent artists, including Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Wilson Pickett, among many others. In 2014 the Recording Academy™ honored Rick with the Trustees Award for his significant contributions to the music industry. Rick will be deeply missed, but his countless recordings and remarkable career achievements will continue to be celebrated for decades to come. Our thoughts are with his collaborators, family, and friends during this difficult time. 

THE WEIGHT IS LIFTED:
MIRANDA LAMBERT
LETS LOOSE
Holly Gleason takes a deep dive into Miranda's career. (6/19a)
THE CARTERS: A TRILOGY OF TRUTH
A Love story. (6/19a)
TROY RUMORS
SWIRL ON
Will Spotify lose another leader? (6/19a)
TOP MONEYMAKERS: WESTWORLD
Yeezy money (6/15a)
BUNDLE MAGIC
It's all about leverage. (6/18a)
WHO ARE THE RAINMAKERS?
We promise this special issue won't be dry.
HOW ROCK IS STREAMING FORWARD
Amps sold separately.
PIZZA PLACEMENT
Songs by the slice.
A.I. AND OUR FUTURE
Planning for Skynet.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)