Rick Hall, FAME Studios Founder, Dead At 85

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jan 03, 2018

Rick Hall, founder of FAME Studios and the "Father of Muscle Shoals Music" passed away at the age of 85 on Tuesday after producing more than 60 years worth of music in the small Alabama city of Muscle Shoals. 

FAME Studios was started in the 1950s by Hall,  Billy Sherrill, and Tom Stafford, and Hall owned the studio until his death, with his son leading much of the operation of the studio. 

FAME Studios recorded cuts for artists such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Duane Allman, Etta James, Alabama, and many other artists. 

9-time CMA Musician of the Year, Mac McAnally, worked with Hall for nearly 40 years and considered him a good friend. 

"I've been blessed to work with a lto of people, but of all the people I've ever worked with, Rick is the most relentless," McAnally said. "I'm a songwriter, so you want someone like that. You want an advocate for your song if you're a songwriter, and Rick was the best I ever saw." 

Together, McAnally and Hall worked with artists such as Mac Davis, Jerry Reed, the Osmonds, T.G. Sheppard, and many others, and McAnally said he believes Hall's legacy will live on not just through the music he helped produce, but through the lessons he taught. 

"You can't help but learn from the guy, he just spilled off information. But even more than the information, the determination of making it as good as you can make it is the thing I carry with me the most," McAnally said. 

FAME Studios is still a working studio to this day, and on the day of his death, the band BISHOP GUNN was scheduled to record at the studio. 

Guitarist Drew Smithers said the band was driving to the studio when they heard of Hall's passing. 

"We were thinking about it more and more, and we decided, this is the perfect time to be in there and kind of celebrate and carry the torch," Smithers said, adding that with Hall's son on hand, they got to work on the last song for their new album, honoring those who had played before them, and honoring Hall's legacy. 

"For me, growing up, it was hearing stories about Duane Allman pitching a tent outside of his studio and trying to get on every session that he could," Smithers said. "In some eerie way, we're kind of carrying the torch that he passed down through the artists that he worked with."

A funeral is planned for Hall on Friday in Muscle Shoals.