Rick Hall was born on 31st January 1932 in the Southern state of Mississippi. Rick became known as the “Father of the Muscle Shoals Sound” and proprietor of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He produced the first million-selling record to come out of Muscle Shoals – Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On”. Hall won recognition as Billboard magazine’s 1971 Producer of the Year. Over thirty gold and platinum singles and albums were recorded at his Fame studios performed by a group of studio musicians called the “Gang”, who came together after the original quartet departed to set up their own studios entitled “The Muscle Shoal Sound Studios”. The list of records produced and recorded at their studios number in the region of 500 R&B, Rock and Roll, Country and Disco records.
This was quite an accomplishment for a group of white men from the deep South, responsible for many classic R&B hits such as Aretha Franklin’s first gold single (million seller) “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You). Wilson Pickett also came to Fame Studios to record “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “Funky Broadway” with Jerry Wexler as producer. All three songs achieved the R&B number one position on the Billboard chart listings during the mid to late 1960s, selling millions of copies in the process.
Over time the studio attracted major international acts like the Rolling Stones and Paul Simon, plus many other recording acts and producers to its recording centre. According to Peter Guralnick, the author of “Sweet Soul Music”, Muscle Shoals was the third point in what might be considered the Southern soul triangle. Muscle Shoals had a distinct musical sound, different from the soul sound of Memphis and other regional centres.