Etta James

MuscleShoals_still2_ArethaFranklin

Editor’s note: With Muscle Shoals opening in limited release, please enjoy the sweet sounds of our Sundance review, originally published on January 26. Rick Hall grew up in rural Alabama, but despite these simple roots, Hall always wanted to be somebody. Muscle Shoals tells the story of how he did become somebody when he founded FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, and in doing so created a deep Southern sound that permeated the music industry, and still exists today. While many accredit this to the “magic” of the Tennessee River, it was the rhythm section Hall put together, called “The Swampers,” that created this unique sound in this unexpected place. When you think of the locations of famous recording studios, you usually think of Los Angeles, New York City or London, but artists started flocking down south to FAME Studios thanks to The Swampers and Hall’s ability to recognize a hit song. The Swampers were a group of white musicians made up of David Hood (bass), Barry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), and Jimmy Johnson (guitar), who ended up creating the roots of this “funkier” style of music — which they claim only came about because they didn’t know how to “make it smooth.”

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