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Hall's musical career had its start in Phil Campbell

He may have been known as the “Father of Muscle Shoals Music,” but Rick Hall was a Franklin County resident and student long before he garnered national fame as a record producer, songwriter, producer and musician.

Hall, 85, died Tuesday morning at his home after a battle with prostate cancer.

One of the centerpieces on Hall's desk was a photo of his high school agriculture teacher, Grover Morrow, the father of Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow.

Hall wrote on the photo: “To the man who believed in me and my music when nobody did.”

Morrow said his father gave Hall his first musical instrument, a mandolin. Morrow recalled a childhood memory of listening to Hall and other Future Farmers of America students practicing their string band on his father's front porch.

I'd sit out there and listen to them practice until two in the morning getting ready for state,” Morrow said. “He always appreciated my father for encouraging him with his music.”

Hall grew up in the Freedom Hills area of Franklin County and attended Phil Campbell High School. His musical career began as a fiddle player with the Country Pals, a band that performed at local events and hosted a weekly show on a Hamilton radio station.

Hall went on to co-found Florence Alabama Music Enterprises, or FAME Records, in Florence. He took sole ownership of the publishing company in 1960 and moved it to Muscle Shoals.

Hall produced music for prominent artists including Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter and Etta James. He would shift to mainstream music in the 1970s, where he worked with the Osmonds, Mac Davis, Paul Anka and Bobbie Gentry.

His country impact was also strong. His repertoire of country artists he produced songs for includes Jerry Reed, Ronnie Milsap, T.G. Sheppard, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers and Shenandoah.

Hall was a subject of a 2013 documentary, “Muscle Shoals,” which recounted the story of FAME Studios and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

Hall and his wife donated their home several years ago to the Alabama Sheriffs Boys and Girls Ranches, where it would become the Colbert County Girls Ranch, also known as FAME Ranch, a home for young girls with unfortunate family circumstances.

Russellville resident Buzzy McKinney helps support the ranch by putting on an annual golf tournament at Twin Pines Country Club.

With Rick's passing, there will be a lot of times things come up like our golf tournament that will cause everyone to reflect that he had the vision for this and so much that benefits our community,” McKinney said.

Florence music promoter Debbie Dixon said she was devastated Tuesday to hear of Hall's passing.

I couldn't believe it when I first heard the news—a living legend until 2018. We have lost so many in 2017. January 2, 2018, is another sad day for the music world,” Dixon said.

My youngest daughter always had to have another picture with Rick every time she saw him. She recently compared two that were taken 20 years apart. The legend's memory will live on. Rest in peace, Rick,” she added.

 

 

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