Rick Hall, Muscle Shoals soul music pioneer – obituary

Rick Hall, left, and Clarence Carter at Muscle Shoals  Credit: BBC/Ear Goggles Production 2013

Rick Hall, who has died aged 85, was a record producer and executive who, as the founder of Fame studios, almost single-handedly established the small Alabama town of Muscle Shoals as a crucible of some of the greatest soul music to be produced in America in the 1960s and 1970s.

Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Don Covay, Etta James and Clarence Carter were just a few of the rhythm and blues artists who recorded under Hall’s supervision, using the superlative group of session musicians who formed the basis of what became known as the “Muscle Shoals sound”.

Hall was the embodiment of a type that flourished in the early days of the record industry: a musician and businessman who could write, arrange, produce and engineer a song, release it on his own label and persuade disc jockeys to play it and distributors to sell it. There were any number of such “record men” – notably Berry Gordy at Motown,...

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