MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – The world lost a music pioneer on Tuesday. Legendary music writer, producer, and publisher Rick Hall passed away in Colbert County. Hall created FAME Studios which put the “Muscle Shoals Sound” on the international stage.
The studio stands out just as much as the music he produced. Rick Hall’s dreams were realized inside the four walls of FAME Studio’s. He made Muscle Shoals “The Hit Recording Capital of the World”.
“To this day, that sound. Everybody still talks about that sound and wants to be a part of that,” stated Dixie Griffin with the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Rick Hall was 85-years-old. Hall was raised in Franklin County the son of a share-cropper. He got his first taste of music when he moved to Illinois as a teen and got hooked.
After serving in the Korean War, hall returned to the Shoals and a factory job.
But after some the loss of his father and new bride within weeks, Hall turned to music. His first songwriting success came in the late 50’s with a hit by George Jones.
“Music comes from the soul, and it came from Rick’s soul,” explained Debbie Wilson with Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. “He had the ear and the heart for what would make something successful and he was very driven to do that, and to do that with others to help them be successful.”
After a failed music studio partnership, Hall founded Florence Alabama Music Enterprises.
Recording artists from around the world started hearing Hall’s soul and wanted a piece of it.
Etta James, Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, and the Osmond’s all recorded in Studio “A” at Fame. That’s just a tasting of the big names who wanted Rick Hall behind their music.
And his legacy has been passed down to today’s generation of recording artists.
Musicians from around the world passed on their condolences Tuesday as word spread of Hall’s passing. Names such as Mac McAnally, Jason Isbell, and John Paul White; Shoals artists who learned from the “Godfather of Muscle Shoals Music”.
Early in his music career, Hall didn’t mind breaking down barriers. Churning out hit after hit in the 60’s, he didn’t shy away from integrating his studio. He saw the potential in people, not the color of their skin.
FAME Studios, according to its website, has been involved in the recording or publishing of records that have sold more than 350 million copies over the past 50 years.
“The songs that they created are classics. They have lasted over the years and they are the best music ever, and all ages listen to that music,” said Dixie Griffin.
His friends said Hall always remained humble about his music success.
He also leaves behind a huge legacy filled with determination and pride in his work.
“He had a rough time. He had a lot of adversity in his life, and he really was an inspiration for turning that adversity around into something positive. And he was really an integrating force in the music industry,” Debbie Wilson said.
“It’s that Muscle Shoals sound,” said Griffin. “It’s just a very humble man that did more than he ever really realized he did I think, yeah he was a great guy.”
FAME Recording Studios posted a social media note early Tuesday saying “We hope the band in heaven is ready!!! If not, there’s going to be a problem!”
The funeral will be held Friday at Highland Park Baptist Church on South Wilson Dam Road. Visitation will begin at noon with services starting at 2:00 p.m.