Rick Hall, founder of Muscle Shoals, Alabama's legendary FAME Studios, dead at 85

Jason Davis/Getty Images for Country Music Hall Of Fame & MuseumRick Hall, owner of the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, died Tuesday at the age of 85 after a battle with cancer, Alabama’s Times Daily reports.

Hall, who grew up in poverty in Mississippi, began his career as a musician and songwriter before co-founding the FAME publishing company — an acronym for Florence Alabama Music Enterprises — in 1959 in Florence, Alabama. He soon took over full control of the company and opened a FAME studio in Muscle Shoals in 1961, while also running an associated record label and serving as an engineer and producer.

During the 1960s, many of the top R&B and soul artists recorded at FAME, including Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Etta James. Early in his career, Allman Brothers Band guitarist Duane Allman was a session musician for many recordings made at FAME.

FAME Studios’ acclaimed team of session musicians — nicknamed The Swampers — was namechecked in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic hit, “Sweet Home Alabama.”  After The Swampers left in 1969 to open their own local recording facility, Hall began working with more pop-oriented acts at FAME, including The Osmonds, Paul Anka and Tom Jones, as well as country artists such as Mac Davis and Jerry Reed.

The late Gregg Allman made his final album, Southern Blood, at FAME in 2016.

Hall was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1985, and he received a Grammy Trustees Award in 2014 for his contributions to the music industry. Rick was featured in, and was the main focus of, the 2013 documentary Muscle Shoals.

A message on the Alabama Music Hall of Fame’s official Facebook page Tuesday called Hall “a one-of-a-kind, unforgettable force in the world of music,” adding, “A lifetime is not enough to appreciate his work.”

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