Rodney Hall of Fame Music Group speaks out Part 1

rodney hall

Rodney Hall (left) with Wilson Pickett (right)

Reaching its half-century mark, the FAME Music Group with offices in Nashville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama remains a family-owned company whose survival as a studio and as an independent publisher–rests heavily on the shoulders of Rodney Hall, president/co-owner of FAME Publishing, House of FAME, and Muscle Shoals Records.Hall, who is also the studio’s manager/engineer, has spent years at the complex supervising demos to masters of such artists as Alabama, Marie Osmond, Clarence Carter, Jason Isbell, Drive-By-Truckers, Bettye Lavette, Russell Smith and others.He also oversees the catalogs of FAME Publishing (BMI), and House of FAME (ASCAP).

FAME—its name derived from the acronym for Florence Alabama Music Enterprises—was founded in 1959 by Rodney’s father Rick, along with Billy Sherrill, and Tom Stafford. Its in-house writers, Hall, Sherrill, and Dan Penn soon wrote songs that were covered by such artists as Roy Orbison, Brenda Lee, and Tommy Roe before Hall assumed sole ownership of the firm.A native of Freedom Hills in Franklin County, Alabama, Rick Hall rose from a humble background to come to the Shoals’ region in the late 1950s. By 1960, he had moved FAME across the Tennessee River to Muscle Shoals.In 1961, Hall produced Arthur Alexander’s breathtaking “You Better Move On” at an old abandoned tobacco and candy warehouse. Issued by Dot Records, the single reached #24 on Billboard’s pop chart. “You Better Move On” was later covered by the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, George Jones & Johnny Paycheck, and Mink DeVille. Alexander’s follow-up hit “Anna” was later covered by the Beatles.

The first song recorded at FAME’s Avalon Avenue studio location, and the first release on the FAME label (after sitting on the shelf for three years), was Jimmy Hughes’ signature hit, “Steal Away.” It reached #17 on Billboard’s R&B and pop charts in 1964.The FAME label roster would grow to include Clarence Carter, Dan Penn, Arthur Conley, Mac Davis, Paul Anka, and Candi Staton.World renowned for creating “The Muscle Shoals Sound”–along with such powerhouse studio players as Norbert Putnam, Spooner Oldham, Jerry Carrigan, Earl “Peanut” Montgomery, Terry Thompson, David Briggs, Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, Eddie Hinton, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson and others–Hall has attracted and worked with an astonishing number of great acts to his FAME studio.

Lynard Skynard’s “Sweet Alabama” famously paid tribute to the region’s musicians“Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers And they’ve been known to pick a song or two,Lord they get me off so much,they pick me up when I’m feeling blue, now how about you”?Among those who have made the trek to the FAME studio are Aretha Franklin (her sole session there yielded her breakthrough“I Never Loved A Man”that the band Aersosmith released 4 years ago on their album”Honkin on Bobo”,an unfinished version of “Do Right Woman Do Right Man”,Wilson Pickett,Etta James,Otis Redding,Joe Tex,the Staple Singers,the Tams,the Osmonds,Tom Jones,as well as such country acts as the Gatlin Brothers,Jerry Reed,T.G. Sheppard,Shenandoah and many others.It was Hall who,after catching guitarist Duane Allman playing a session with his band Hour Glass,hired him to play on Pickett’s 1969 album,“Hey Jude” (1969). Allman was then quickly hired on as a full-time session player.While at FAME only less than a year,Allman was featured on releases by Clarence Carter,King Curtis,Otis Rush,Ronnie Hawkins,Percy Sledge,Johnny Jenkins,Boz Scaggs,and jazz flautist Herbie Mann.

Along the way,Hall’s publishing companies FAME Publishing and Rick Hall Music signed writers like Walt Aldridge and Tommy Brasfield who scored country hits with Ronnie Milsap,Earl Thomas Conley,Alabama,and Ricky Van Shelton.After selling the publishing rights to songs in the FAME Publishing and Rick Hall Music catalogs to EMI Music Publishing in 1989,Hall began to rebuild his publishing interests with his three sons,Rodney,Mark,and Rick Jr.FAME Publishing and Rick Hall Music continued to have hits throughout the ’90s.Writers,including Walt Aldridge,Gary Baker,Mark Narmore,Brad Crisler,Bruce Miller,Tony Colton,and Mark Hall had songs recorded by John Michael Montgomery,Pam Tillis,Blackhawk,Tim McGraw,Reba McEntire,All 4 One and Shenandoah.In 1996,Mark Hall co wrote “I Like It I Love It” which reached #1 on the Billboard country charts.In 1999,Rick Hall sold chunks of FAME Publishing,and Rick Hall Music to Los Angeles-based publisher Music and Media.Rodney and Mark Hall then bought the unrecorded songs,and assets of the two publishing companies from their father Rick,and renamed Rick Hall Music as House of FAME.Afterwards,FAME began to replenish its writing staff with a batch of new young writers.Today,it’s roster includes James LeBlanc and his son Dylan,Jason Isbell,Gary Nichols,former“Nashville Star”winner Angela Hacker,and members of the Mobile,Alabama band,Ugly Stick.In the past decade,FAME has had songs recorded by the Dixie Chicks,Tim McGraw,Leann Rimes,Reba McEntire,Rascal Flatts,George Strait,Jason Aldean,Joe Diffie,Martina McBride,Travis Tritt,Sara Evans,Aaron Tippin,Billy Ray Cyrus,Alabama,John Michael Montgomery,Chris Ledoux, Rebecca Lynn Howard,Kenny Chesney,Gary Allan,and Bo Bice.In 2001,Rodney Hall established the subsidiary label, Muscle Shoals Records which has released albums by Russell Smith,James LeBlanc,and the Muscle Shoals band the Decoys.

There are currently many up and coming rising stars & inspiring songwriters based out of Muscle Shoals,Alabama & surrounding areas that are paving their way into the Music Industry.Some which are making not only local headlines but National headlines and I would’nt be surprised at all if a few of them becomes the next history hit makers from Muscle Shoals Alabama.While reading this article,Soundbitenew’s conducted a quick search on the area and let’s just say we’ve been more than inspired. We’ve been knocked off of our feet with information that’s not in this article. So we will be bringing you more stories and hopefully a few of our own candid interviews from other Muscle Shoals artist very soon.One duo group specifically called “State Line Mob” has already agreed for an article,so they can tell their side of the legacy and talk about their music that seems to keep growing called “The Muscle shoals Sound”!

 This concludes part 1 of this article. Part 2 below this article will include an candid one on one up to date interview with Rodney Hall of Fame Recording Studio and Fame Music Group.You don’t want to miss reading it!

Credits: The ENCORE Digital Weekly Magazine  , revised by Soundbitenews                                                                             taken from the original article posted by Larry LeBlanc


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