Rick Hall was born on 31st January 1932 in the Southern state of Mississippi. Rick became known as the “Father of Muscle Shoals Sound” and proprietor of the Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
He produced the first million selling record to come out of Muscle Shoals Studios- 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”, which was formed by Hall 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 (a million-seller) “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You). The Gang also backed Wilson Pickett on “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “Funky Broadway”, with Jerry Wexler as the producer. All these tracks 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. 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 with Nashville and Memphis.
Thanks to Rick Hall, Muscle Shoals had a distinct musical sound different from the soul sound of Memphis and other regional centres.