The music world is mourning the loss of legendary producer Rick Hall, who passed away on Jan. 2 at age 85. According to Florence, Alabama’s “Times Daily,” Hall died at his home in Muscle Shoals following a battle with cancer.
He was the founder of FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and his work with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Duane Allman and Etta James put that town on the map in the 1960s.
Before that R&B success, Rick Hall had some of the songs he’d written recorded by the likes of George Jones, Brenda Lee and Roy Orbison in the late 1950s. His work with country artists continued into the 1970s as he worked with superstars Jerry Reed and The Gatlin Brothers. Rick Hall was also instrumental in helping Shenandoah go from playing bars in Northwest Alabama to scoring multiple No. 1 country hits, including “The Church on Cumberland Road” and “Next to You, Next to Me.”
Hall’s music publishing business also thrived with John Michael Montgomery’s “I Swear” and Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It” among the smash hits coming out of his music publishing catalog. Ronnie Milsap, Jason Aldean and the Dixie Chicks also recorded songs published by Rick Hall, and Chely Wright remembered him as among the best when it came to producing quality music.
Chely tweets, “I can still see the ‘Rick Hall’ logo of the publishing company stamped on the jcards wrapped around the cassette tapes of pitches from the Rick Hall songpluggers. Whenever I saw those tapes, I knew the songs would be good and the grooves even better.”
CMA Awards nominee Jason Isbell hails from the Muscle Shoals area, and he says he owes his career to Rick Hall.
Jason says on Twitter, “Rick Hall and his family gave me my first job in the music business, and nobody in the industry ever worked harder than Rick. Nobody. American music wouldn’t be the same without his contributions. His death is a huge loss to those of us who knew him and those who didn’t.”
Reigning CMA Musician of the Year Mac McAnally still lives in Muscle Shoals, and he got his start as a session musician working with Rick Hall.
Mac says, “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!”
If you’d like to learn more about Rick Hall and his impact on the music world, check out the documentary, “Muscle Shoals.”