SHEFFIELD, Ala. — Thanks to Lynyrd Skynyrd, you know that “Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers.” And thanks to the Swampers, you know the Muscle Shoals Sound.
Swampers was the nickname given to the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, a group of musicians who founded the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios located at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield.
Friday morning, a white bow was hung on the front door of the legendary studio as the music community remembers the life of Swampers drummer Roger Hawkins who passed away Thursday.
“When I first met Roger I was around 16 and he was 14 and riding a motor scooter and I met him at a music store in Florence, Ryan Piano Company,” Swampers Bassist David Hood said.
With Hawkins passing, Hood is the last surviving member of the group.
“We didn’t really realize the impact, at the time, what we were doing,” Hood said. “Our first goal was just to get paid for being a musician, and then we loved the idea that people were hearing our music. It just built from there.”
Many musicians shared tributes and condolences for Hawkins across social media, and on Friday, the parking lot at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios remained full of visitors who Hood said simply wanted to be in Hawkins’ presence to honor the legacy he leaves behind.
“The young drummers around here really have a lot to stand up to, listening to Roger,” Hood said. “He was the ultimate studio drummer.”
Hood said after all these years, he’s happy to see that people are still interested in Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and he’s grateful for the outpouring of love and support.