Wilson Pickett

The word “pioneer” gets thrown around a lot these days to describe people that really aren’t all that pioneering. However, when talking about soul legend Wilson Pickett, the word barely does him justice. Wilson Pickett was an electric performer who oozed raw soul and helped define the sound of Southern Soul with hits that include — but aren’t limited to — “Mustang Sally,” “Land of 1000 Dances,” and “Funky Broadway.”

Born in Prattville, Alabama, in 1941, the youngest of 11 children, Pickett became forever etched in the Muscle Shoals firmament when, in 1966, famed record executive Jerry Wexler brought Pickett to FAME Studios. Initially skeptical about returning to his home state, and recording with FAME’s all-white Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Pickett fell into a remarkable creative groove, recording an embarrassingly rich collection of timeless hits during his stint at FAME, such as the aforementioned “Land of A Thousand Dances” and “Mustang Sally.”

Always the innovator, Pickett also recorded what many believe to be the first “Southern Rock” record when he used Duane Allman as a session guitarist on his hit cover of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” which appeared on the LP of the same name and also included a cover of Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” and “Sit Down and Talk This Over,” co-written by Pickett and Bobby Womack.

Although Pickett recorded sporadically after the 1970s and produced fewer hit records, his live performances remained legendary. Wilson Pickett was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2003, Pickett was featured in the documentary Only The Strong Survive, and continued to perform while battling numerous health issues, before succumbing to a heart attack in Ashburn, Virginia, on January 19, 2006.

The walls of FAME still echo with the sound of Wilson Pickett’s genius. His legacy and the songs he left us will forever be remembered and continue to give back well into the future. We feel blessed to have known Wilson Pickett and to have played a small part in helping deliver his vision and feel forever indebted for what he gave to Muscle Shoals.

Episode 2: Keith Stegall

Episode 2: Keith Stegall

On Episode Two of Through These Doors: A FAME Studios Podcast, Rodney Hall sits down with our special guest — ACM, CMA, and Grammy-winning songwriter/producer — and founder of DREAMLINED ENTERTAINMENT, Keith Stegall. Hall and Stegall share personal insights into the recording process, and we invite you through these doors to listen in as they discuss how Stegall navigated his career as a writer and a multi-million record selling producer. This episode digs deep into some of the songs and albums that have defined his career.

Watch Episode Two

 

Listen to the audio-only version of Episode Two

Mac Davis

In September of 2020, we lost one of our closest and dearest members of the FAME family.

Mac Davis was not only one of the great musicians/songwriters/performers to ever grace the American music scene, he was also one of the most selfless and caring human beings that the world has ever known.

Mac was an inductee to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and received a BMI Icon Award for his decades-long contribution to the American songbook. He has a star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame and a street named in his honor in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas: Mac Davis Lane.

Some will know Mac from his chart-topping solo hits, including “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me,” “Texas in My Rearview Mirror” and “It’s Hard to Be Humble.”

Some will know Mac from the songs he wrote that were performed and recorded by hundreds of artists, including Nancy Sinatra, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire, Tom Jones, and many more, including his songs that became hits for Elvis Presley, including “In The Ghetto” and “A Little Less Conversation.”

Never a one-trick pony, Mac was one of those people who excelled at everything he put his mind to and along with his successful career in music, he also had a thriving career as an actor, starring in the films “North Dallas Forty,” “The Sting II,” and “Possums.” He also starred as Will Rogers in “The Will Rogers Follies” on Broadway, hosted an episode of “The Muppet Show,” and hosted his own variety show “The Mac Davis Show” on NBC.

Here at FAME, we will not only remember Mac as a world-class entertainer, but as a true friend who was always there whenever you needed him. Mac was never shy about using his celebrity status to bring about positive change in the world, and was a life-long supporter of the FAME Girls’ Ranch, generously donating his time and talents whenever we held a benefit or fundraiser.

Mac will be missed here at FAME, but he will always live on in the music he left us, his extensive charity work, and the stories of camaraderie and kindness that will forever echo in the walls of this studio and on the streets of Muscle Shoals.

Thank you for everything, Mac.

Episode 1: Glenn Rosenstein

Episode 1: Glenn Rosenstein

Join Rodney Hall as he welcomes famed producer/engineer Glenn Rosenstein for the very first episode of Through These Doors: A FAME Studios Podcast. Full of behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes that give an inside look into the joys, trials, and tribulations of the recording process, Hall and Rosenstein discuss everything from Rosenstein’s celebrated career — which has spanned over four decades and included working with such music luminaries as Madonna, U2, and Talking Heads — to Hall and Rosenstein’s collaboration on the renovation and reimagining of FAME’s historic Studio B.

Watch Episode One

 

Listen to the audio-only version of Episode One

Dan Penn

If you were going to create a Mount Rushmore for the Muscle Shoals Sound, Dan Penn would be one of the first people you’d carve into it. Dan has left — and continues to leave — an indelible stamp on music history and is recognized as one of the great songsmiths of the past fifty years. Dan was the first in-studio songwriter that Rick Hall hired at FAME and music historian Peter Guralnick once described him as the “secret hero” of 60s R&B.

In 1959, Dan wrote his first hit, Is A Bluebird Blue? — a hit for Conway Twitty — at the tender age of 18, and has gone on to write and co-write countless soul classics, including Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (written at FAME Recording Studios with Spooner Oldham during the famous Aretha Franklin sessions), Dark End of the Street (co-written with Chips Moman), I’m Your Puppet (w/ Oldham), and It Tears Me Up (w/ Oldham), while also delivering numerous hits as a producer, including The Letter, a number one hit in 1967 for The Box Tops and their then sixteen-year-old singer Alex Chilton.

For over sixty years, and now at age seventy-eight, Dan has never slowed down when it comes to writing, producing, and performing hit records, and if shows on his latest album, Living on Mercy, which comes 26 years after his last solo album, 1994’s Do Right Man and forty-seven years after his solo debut Nobody’s Fool, released in 1973.

Dan Penn will always have a home at FAME and we are beyond proud to be able to call him a friend and consider him a foundational member of the FAME family.

Mickey Buckins

Some artists are just Muscle Shoals through and through. Mickey Buckins is one of those artists. 

In the mid-1960s, Buckins toured throughout the Southeast, fronting Mickey Buckins and the New Breed and recording British Invasion mixed with Alabama garage-rock numbers, such as “Long Long Time” and “Reflections of Charlie Brown”. 

In 1967, Rick Hall hired him at FAME studios where he started out as an assistant and, in his words, “did anything and everything that needed to be done.” From there, Buckins worked his way up the ranks at FAME to assistant engineer before becoming a producer, studio manager, and chief engineer.

As a producer and arranger, Buckins was a valuable member of the world-famous Fame Gang band, adding his masterful touches to hit recordings by singers such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, Lou Rawls, the Osmonds, Little Richard, Bobbie Gentry, Etta James, and Candi Staton.

Buckins is also an accomplished composer, penning five BMI award-winning songs including Janie Fricke’s chart-topping “Tell Me a Lie”, “Double Lovin’” a Top 10 hit for the Osmonds, and “The Feeling Is Right” a Top 10 R&B hit for Clarence Carter, to name but a few. Recently Mickey has had his songs recorded by the “King of Americana” Jason Isbell appearing on his “Here We Rest” and “Live From Alabama” albums.  His song “Double Lovin” by Spencer Wiggins was also used in a national Citi-Bank commercial in 2020.

After more than five decades of leaving his stamp on the sound of Muscle Shoals, Buckins is still going strong. FAME is not only honored to be a part of his legacy, but proud to call him family.

Walt Aldridge

There were times in the 80’s and 90’s when it seemed as if the only thing keeping Muscle Shoals music alive was some amazing songwriters and FAME’s country productions including Shenandoah, Jerry Reed, Larry Gatlin, Terri Gibbs, and The Shooters to name a few.

Walt Aldridge was the most successful of these songwriters/Producers. He spent close to 20 years with Fame.

Walter has been the recipient of over 20 gold and platinum records; 7 #1 records; has had 56 top-40 songs on the Billboard Charts and has twice been named in their top 10 writers of the year. Walt has also had two songs of the year.
He also wrote and produced Heartland’s #1 record “I Loved Her First”.

Here is a hidden gem from Walt’s catalog with Rick Hall Music Publishing: “A Little of You” performed and produced by Walt. FAME is very proud of our long business and personal relationship with Walt and the many successes we’ve had together. Truth be known, we might not still be here if not for his songwriting talents.

Thanks for Everything, Walt!! Much Love to you!

Click here to listen to Walt Aldridge’s “A Little of You”

Check out 12 Walt Alridge classics on this Greatest Demo Hits Playlist

Announcing the first episode of Through These Doors: A FAME Studios Podcast, hosted by Rodney Hall with Special Guest Glenn Rosenstein

Announcing the first episode of Through These Doors: A FAME Studios Podcast, hosted by Rodney Hall with Special Guest Glenn Rosenstein

 

On Wednesday, August 5th at 6pm est/5pm cst/3pm pst, FAME Recording Studios will be hosting a very special Facebook Live event. Join Rodney Hall as he welcomes famed producer/engineer Glenn Rosenstein for the very first episode of Through These Doors, a recurring interview series delving into the history of FAME Recording Studios and the Muscle Shoals sound. This conversation between Hall and Rosenstein will no doubt be entertaining, unfiltered, and full of behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes that will give an inside look into the joys, trials, and tribulations of the recording process.

Hall and Rosenstein will be discussing everything from Rosenstein’s celebrated career — which has spanned over four decades and included working with such music luminaries as Madonna, U2, and Talking Heads — to Hall and Rosenstein’s collaboration on the renovation and reimagining of FAME’s historic Studio B.

You won’t want to miss this lively discussion.

Tune in to Facebook Live on August 5th at at 6pm est/5pm cst/3pm pst: www.facebook.com/famestudios

 

Information about the participants:

RODNEY HALL is president of FAME Recording Studios as well as co-owner of FAME Publishing and Muscle Shoals Records in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Since the early 90’s, he has been actively involved in Studios and publishing while also producing projects at FAME. He has worked with several internationally recognized bands and performers including Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Demi Lovato, Steven Tyler, Keb Mo, Aloe Blacc, James LeBlanc, Alison Krauss, Grace Potter, Candi Staton, and many more.

GLENN ROSENSTEIN is a world-renowned producer, mixer and engineer. Rosenstein’s projects have won three Grammy Awards, garnered five Grammy nominations, and won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award. His work is responsible for record sales well in excess of 300 million units having worked with James Brown, Miles Davis, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Ziggy Marley, Madonna, Talking Heads, The Ramones, U2 and many others over a career that spans over four decades.

King Corduroy

Kurt McMahan moved from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Austin in 2007. The lyrics of Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley, Guy Clarke and many other Austin legends have shaped his writing. Stirring up all the Southern flavors of Soul Music with poignant lyrics and true stories has been his mission. From the swampy sound of Muscle Shoals, to Soulsville USA, straight down through the Mississippi Delta, to the heart of the Crescent City, with the Blues that tramped across the Natural State and the melting pot that is the great state of Texas: King Corduroy “Austin Soul Stew” is ready to be served.

Mick Hayes

Mick Hayes is the combination of “artist and entertainer” that we don’t hear much about these days. In the past he’s been recognized as a network reality TV star, a successful bandleader and frontman who spent years earning his stripes as the opening act for iconic rock bands such as the Doobie Brothers, Deep Purple, Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton. Mick is a fellow musician and accompanist who has graced the stage with a wide variety of artists from Billy Sheehan to Stevie Wonder. A songwriter who was recognized by the Grammy Nomination Committee in two different categories in 2017. A guitarist who received one-on-one guitar instructions from Steve Vai, who is back to being a student of the game while writing and recording a new album at the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

While all of this sounds extravagant or designed to impress you, it’s one mans dedication to his artistry that you should really be hearing and take some time to experience it for yourself. This self-proclaimed, full-time musician performs regionally, nationally, internationally and also in his hometown music scene for well over 200 shows per year.

Like the business model of the great Ray Charles, Mick Hayes don’t fit into one box…but he’ll fit right into your heart and soul for a lifetime full of music born from good influence.