Independent Lens, NPT, showed a film tonight that knocked me off my feet. It is about Rick Hall, FAME, and the Swampers foundation of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. -EXCELLENT FILM- I’ll soon be 3 score and never knew of the fact that most of the great music I grew up with, had recordings of, whose artists concerts I attended, and have imprinted memories of…was recorded in a small modest studio just south of Sheffield, AL using an awesome NEVE8078 …at a place called Muscle Shoals. Really feeling like I had slept through the ‘music listening’ part of my life, I watched this film tonight in awe. I’ll be StartPageing the history and happenings of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, aka. FAME Recording Studios, off and on until I truly gain the as much of it’s richness as possible. What is regretful is the fact that I worked on a project for almost 2 weeks just last year….right down the street from this epic gathering place and didn’t even know it was there!! …argh! If you really love ALL genre of music from the late sixties thru even today you will truly love clicking these links….and also watch the film yourselves.
This story is true Americana musical history which brought artists from all over the world. What is so unique about this story, as you will read below, is the fact of the four musicians who have played background and full arrangements for Grammy winning artists [some of whom were ‘nobodies’ until they went to Muscle Shoals].
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: The Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was formed in Sheffield, Alabama, in 1969 when a group of four session musicians called The Swampers decided to leave the nearby FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals to create their own recording set-up.
The four, Barry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), Jimmy Johnson (guitar) and David Hood (bass), then became known as The Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section and were the first rhythm section to own a studio and eventually run their own publishing and production companies.
Their backing and arrangements have been heard on many recordings, including major hits from Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and the Staple Singers, but a wide range of artists in popular music recorded hit songs and complete albums at the studio.
The group first came together in 1967 and initially played sessions in New York and Nashville, as well as on recordings made at the Rick Hall‘s FAME facility. The initial successes in soul and R&B led to the arrival at the Muscle Shoals Sound studios of more mainstream rock and pop performers, including The Rolling Stones, Traffic, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Dr. Hook, Elkie Brooks, Millie Jackson and Julian Lennon.
The studios at 3614 Jackson Highway were relocated to an updated and larger facility on Alabama Avenue in Sheffield in the late 1970s, but the original building still sees occasional use as a recording studio. The Black Keys album, Brothers, was recorded there in 2009 and achieved Grammy Award success in 2011. Recording equipment was brought into the former studio to make the album.
The original Muscle Shoals Sound Studios building is listed on The National Register of Historic Places. In June 2013, it was sold by businessman Noel Webster, who kept the building maintained, to the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation. Their goal is to eventually make the historic building a music museum.
The Alabama Avenue studios were sold in 1985 to the Jackson, Mississippi based soul and blues label, Malaco Records, which also bought the MSS publishing rights. Malaco used the Sheffield studios for their own artists, including Johnnie Taylor, Bobby Bland and Little Milton, as well as continuing to operate their own facility in Jackson. The building was bought by a film and television production company in 2005 after Malaco decided to close the studios, selling the two Neve sound desks to studios elsewhere in the U.S, according to an article in Billboard magazine.
Filmmaker Greg Camalier premiered his documentary Muscle Shoals at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013. It is about Rick Hall, FAME, and the Swampers foundation of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, The film includes interviews with Bono, Alicia Keys, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards.