Barry Beckett: 1943-2009

June 17, 2009  |  10:00am
Musician and producer Barry Beckett died in his Tennessee home on June 10 due to complications related to a stroke. He was 66 years old. Beckett is survived by his sons Matthew and Mark and his wife Diane.

In the mid-'60s, nestled between music powerhouses Memphis and Nashville, the small southern city of Muscle Shoals, Ala. didn't have much to boast save for a narrow leg of the Tennessee River and a sliver of America's metals industry. Soon, though, something grew up around Fame Studios and a band called the Swampers that would give the city over to rock 'n' roll history as the namesake of the "Muscle Shoals sound."

Beckett was the keyboardist of the Swampers, formally called the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. The quartet got its start as an ensemble of contract musicians at Fame, the first studio in the Shoals. In 1969, the Swampers broke from Fame and created their own studio, the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, where Beckett began producing as well as contributing keys to the countless acts that would record there.

As a pioneer in the city's music scene, Beckett's legacy reaches as far back as Etta James' 1967 album Tell Mama, and as far forward as Band Of Horses, who recorded their third album in the Shoals last fall. The complete list of Beckett's beneficiaries includes Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Paul Simon, Dire Straits, Bob Dylan, John Prine and Kenny Chesney, among countless others.

Related links:
News: Band Of Horses Recording Third Album In Muscle Shoals
Feature: Bettye Lavette - Late Bloomer Gets Her Mojo On
Review: Willie Nelson - The Complete Atlantic Recordings


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