Rick Hall overcame poverty and personal tragedy to build a musical legacy that is recognized worldwide. Born Roe Erister Hall in 1932, he founded Florence Alabama Music Enterprises (FAME) in 1959 and with a relentless drive to succeed and unrelenting attention to detail built FAME into a hit machine.
FAME took off in 1961 when Arthur Alexander recorded the first of his country soul hits “You Better Move On”. Rick’s ability to capture Arthur’s heartfelt lyrics and emotion somehow traveled halfway around the world to influence the early work of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
Aretha Franklin was languishing at Columbia, where she was completely mishandled until she moved to Atlantic and came to Muscle Shoals where Rick put her back at the piano and took her back to her roots in the church. From the first note of “I Never Loved a Man (the way I loved you) it was clear Rick and his crew, now famous as the Swampers, knew exactly how to bring out Aretha’s prodigious talent.
And on and on, huge stars flew into tiny Muscle Shoals, stayed in generic motels and with Rick’s vision and the Swampers backing, produced the soundtrack of the 1960s and 1970s. Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones, the Osmonds, the Tams, Arthur Conley, Joe Tex, Lulu, Clarence Carter, Etta James, Mac Davis, Paul Anka, Art Garfunkel–all made a pilgrimage to FAME in search of the magic that happened there.
Check out Rick Hall, The Man from Muscle Shoals to hear the story in Rick’s own words.
RIP Rick Hall.