Why Muscle Shoals? How did this corner of northwest Alabama become known as the Hit-Making Capital of the World? The answer is found in the extraordinary talents of the musicians, songwriters and producers who created a legacy of music that brought the world of superstar singers to Muscle Shoals’ doorstep. Enjoy hearing the stories straight from the people who made it happen in these videos. And check back often as new interviews are added to this collection.

Walt Aldridge is a musician, singer, songwriter, engineer and record producer. He worked at FAME Recording Studio for almost two decades as a producer, songwriter and backup musician. He is well known as a songwriter in Nashville and has been the recipient of over 20 gold and platinum Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certifications in recognition of outstanding sales. Read More

Gary Baker is the owner of Noiseblock Studio in Florence, Alabama. In 1994, he earned a Grammy Award for the multi-million selling song “I Swear,” co-written with Frank J. Myers and first recorded by John Michael Montgomery and then by the hip harmony group All-4-One. Baker hit the crossover charts again in 2001 with “I’m Already There,” co-written with Myers and Richie McDonald, lead singer of Lonestar. Read More

Shane Baker is a recording artist and songwriter for Noiseblock Music Group. Formerly the lead singer for Christian Modern Rock band Cadence, he is signed to Brentwood Benson Music in Nashville.  Baker plays with artists such as Audio Adrenaline, Superchick, Skillet, Lenny LeBlanc, NewSong, Day of Fire, The Wedding, Joel Engle, Avalon and leads worship for various camps and conventions. Read More

Kelvin Holly’s musical career began in 1972.  Holly is the longtime guitarist for artists such as Little Richard, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, The Decoys, and Pegi Young and The Survivors.  As a studio musician, Holly has appeared on numerous albums, including albums by Little Richard, Bobby Bland, Gregg Allman and Klaus Voormann as well as various movie soundtracks. Read More

Mark Narmore, a native of Center Star, Alabama, is a staff writer at Noble Vision Music in Nashville. He has had more than 80 songs recorded by major artists including 11 songs cowritten and recorded by Josh Turner. Narmore wrote “That’s What I Love About Sunday” which was the most performed song of 2005. Read More

Spooner Oldham is a keyboard player and songwriter. Oldham started out playing piano during high school and went on to play on a who’s who of hit records at FAME Studios, including “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge, “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett, and “I Never Loved a Man” by Aretha Franklin. Read More

Harvey Thompson is a saxophonist. As one of the original members of the Muscle Shoals Horns, he contributed to countless legendary recordings at FAME Studios. Thompson has also toured extensively with Lyle Lovett, and has played with a wide variety of artists, including John Denver, Kim Carnes and Elton John. Read More

Jimmy Johnson is a guitarist and record producer. As a member of FAME’s Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section during the mid-to-late 1960s, Johnson played on countless hit recordings, including cuts by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter and Etta James. In 1969, Johnson and his fellow “Swampers” left FAME and founded Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Read More

Donna Jean Godchaux McKay began her career as a session musician, contributing vocals to such hits as Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” and Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds.” After marrying Keith Godchaux, she toured with the Grateful Dead for many years. McKay was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Dead. Read More

Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery is a songwriter, singer and musician. He has been one of Nashville’s top songwriters and session players for many years.  Montgomery began his career as the lead guitarist at FAME, and has played with such legendary artists as Bob Dylan, Etta James and Patsy Cline. George Jones recorded 73 songs written by Montgomery, including many duets with Tammy Wynette. Read More

Will McFarlane has been playing guitar for more than forty years. His music encompasses blues, country, folk and rock ‘n’ roll.  In 1980, after six years of touring and recording with Bonnie Raitt, McFarlane moved to Muscle Shoals, where he played with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section on records for Etta James, Bobby Blue Bland, Little Milton and Johnny Taylor. Read More

Secret Sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers were born and raised in Muscle Shoals. This singing duo is known for their sibling harmonies in country, gospel, bluegrass and rock ‘n’ roll musical styles. After being discovered at a Nashville audition in 2010, the Secret Sisters’ first, self-titled, album was released to critical acclaim.  Their second album, “Let There Be Lonely,” was released in 2013. Read More

Jake Landers (1938-2018) was a musician, singer, songwriter and performer, recognized nationally and internationally as one of bluegrass’s top songwriters. In the 1960s, Landers performed as a member of the Dixie Gentlemen. Songs written by Landers include “Secret of the Waterfall,” “The Girl I Love,” and “The Last Request.” Read More

David Briggs is a keyboard musician, publisher, television music director and music arranger.  His career began at Tune Records before becoming one of the original Rhythm Section at FAME Studio.  In 1962, Briggs signed with Decca Records, followed by a move to Nashville.  He toured with Elvis from 1975 until Elvis’ death in 1977.  Read More

Norbert Putnam was one of the original members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section at FAME.  He played on many of FAME’s early hits including Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On.” Putnam was one of the Muscle Shoals musicians brought to Nashville to play for Elvis Presley in 1965. From the 1960s to the 1980s, Putnam became a million selling record producer as he helped bring pop music recording to Nashville. Read More

Chris Tompkins grew up in Muscle Shoals and is an acclaimed songwriter at Nashville’s Big Loud Shirt Industries. Signing his first publishing deal at age 22, eight of Tompkin’s songs have hit #1, including “One of Those Nights,” recorded by Tim McGraw; “Drunk on You,” recorded by Luke Bryan; “Sure Would Be Cool If You Did,” recorded by Blake Shelton; and “Voices,” recorded by Chris Young. Read More

Rodney Hall is co-owner and president of FAME Publishing and House of Fame music in Muscle Shoals.  Under Rodney’s tenure, the company has landed Top 10 publishing records with Jason Isbell, Tim McGraw, Travis Tritt, Sara Evnas, Gary Allan, Jason Aldean, Pam Tillis, All-4-One, Reba McEntire, John Michael Montgomery, and Randy Travis as well as two songs of the year awards and more than a dozen ASCAP awards. Read More

Rick Hall (1932-2018), recognized as the “Father of Muscle Shoals Music,” was a producer, publisher, songwriter, musician, and studio owner who founded FAME Studios and produced the Muscle Shoals music industry’s first national hits. He recorded artists ranging from Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Etta James, and Candi Staton to Mac Davis, Bobbie Gentry, the Osmonds, Paul Anka, and Shenandoah. Read More

Larry Byrom is a guitarist and songwriter who has performed on more than 100 albums in genres ranging from rock to country. He recorded a number of hit songs with Steppenwolf, including some he penned himself. He moved back to Alabama in the mid-1970s, recording with Wilson Pickett and others. By 1980, Byrom was living in Nashville, where his skilled slide, acoustic, and electric guitar playing kept him in constant demand. Read More

Jimmy Nutt is the owner of The NuttHouse, a state-of-the-art recording studio in downtown Sheffield. He has worked with a wide range of recording artists including Percy Sledge, Clarence Carter, Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, John Paul White, Donna Jean Godchaux, Lenny LeBlanc, Heartland, Russell Smith, Drive-By Truckers, The Decoys, Spooner Oldham, and Donnie Fritts. Read More

David Hood was born and grew up in Sheffield, Alabama. He started playing trombone in the high school band and by age 17 he was playing guitar and bass. During the mid-1960s, he teamed with Roger Hawkins, Jimmy Johnson, and Barry Beckett to form the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, also known as “The Swampers.” Read More

Bobby Denton was born and raised on a small farm near Cherokee, Alabama. He began singing and playing the guitar at an early age and in 1956, when he was a teenager, Denton recorded “A Fallen Star” for Tune Records in Florence. The single became a regional hit, leading to a performance by Denton on ABC’s The Dick Clark Show. He retired from music in 1960, and served as a state senator from 1978 to 2010. Read More

Alan Schulman is a Grammy-winning producer, arranger, engineer and songwriter who grew up in north Alabama and lived in Florence for many years. After graduating from Auburn University, he took a job with Leon Russell’s Shelter Records in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Schulman returned to the Shoals to work for David Johnson at Broadway Sound Studio, and eventually moved to Wishbone. Read More

Ben Tanner is a record producer, engineer, and musician who was born and raised in the Shoals area. After graduating from Rhodes College in Memphis, and spending a year in Paris, France, Tanner returned to the Shoals to work for Fame Recording Studio. Tanner has played keyboards for the Alabama Shakes since 2011, and is a co-founder of Single Lock Records. Read More

Bob Wray is a studio musician and bass guitarist who moved to Muscle Shoals from Memphis after playing in Travis Wammack’s touring band for several years. When the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section broke with Rick Hall in 1969, Wray took a job at FAME Studios, where he played on the Osmonds’ number-one single “One Bad Apple.” Read More

Scott Boyer (1947-2018) was a singer, guitarist, and songwriter who grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. As a founding member of Cowboy, Boyer toured with the Allman Brothers Band and, in 1971, recorded an album at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Boyer eventually moved to the Shoals and joined the Decoys. His songs have been recorded by Eric Clapton, Greg Allman, and others. Read More

Mac McAnally is a country music producer, musician and singer-songwriter who grew up in north Mississippi. His very first recording session as an artist was at Wishbone Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, where he went on to make several successful albums. He has also recorded and worked on sessions for other artists at the nearby Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound studios. Read More

Bud McGuire is a musician, songwriter, producer, music publisher, and the owner of Shoals-based McGuire Productions. He grew up in Hamilton, Alabama, and decided to pursue a career in music after attending a recording session in Nashville. He apprenticed under Rick Hall at FAME before returning to Nashville, where he found success as a songwriter and producer. Read More

Stephanie Brown

Milton Sledge