It’s a sad day at FAME Studios as its owner, founder and chief producer, Rick Hall, passed away this morning at the age of 85. Best known as the “Father of Muscle Shoals Music,” Hall worked with some of the most iconic R&B artists of the 1960s including Etta James, Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin, as well as The Rolling Stones.
According to a TimesDaily report, Hall had been living in a local nursing home but returned to his home for the holidays in Florence, Ala. where he passed away. The legendary producer had been reportedly suffering from declining health conditions over the past few months.
Born in 1932 to a sharecropping father in a rural town of Alabama, Rick Hall grew up to create one of the most iconic studios in the South. FAME Studios (acronym for Florence Alabama Music Enterprise) was at one point, according to Hall’s biography on AllMusic, the only recording facility in the entire state. From there, it became the studio that put Muscle Shoals, Ala. on the map. Hall was known to be a strict producer who pushed his artists to perfection. He knew when something was a hit and didn’t stop until his musicians reached the high quality standards he had set. In a 2014 interview with Larry King when King asks, “Rock stars are known for big egos … did you have trouble dealing with that?” Hall comically responds, “No, because I had a bigger one myself.”
Hall left behind some the best recordings coming from the state of Alabama. He was the producer behind Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind, and the Dreams album by the Allman Brothers. Hall won a Grammy Trustee Award in 2014, was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Producer of the Year in 1971 and was named Producer of the Year for the World by Billboard magazine that same year.
Singer-songwriter Mac McAnally tweeted earlier today, “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!”
See McAnally’s tweet below, and revisit our July 2014 interview with Hall here.