Monday, March 24, 2014

Lookin’ for Luckenbach


From the site:

The town of Luckenbach, Texas, lost its post office in 1971. It would have been the death of most places, but it was just the beginning for this town in Texas Hill Country.
Andrew McCrea
When the post office closed, rancher Hondo Crouch purchased the property. "Buying" Luckenbach meant acquir­ing a general store, dance hall and a few other worn-out buildings. While few people lived in Luckenbach (three, according to records), it served as a place to sell produce, buy supplies or dance on Friday nights.

Crouch enjoyed sitting under the broad trees telling stories and playing tunes. In 1973, his friend and fellow musician, Jerry Jeff Walker, recorded "Viva Terlingua" in the town’s dance hall. Luckenbach was back on the map, so to speak.

A few years later, Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons heard about Luckenbach and wrote a song about the town. Waylon Jennings cut the song in 1977, and it quickly rose to the top of the charts.

Neither Jennings or the songwriters had ever been to Luckenbach. In fact, it was 1997 before Jennings paid a visit. That’s not unusual, though. The Eagles never "stood on a corner in Winslow, Ariz." The Monkees didn’t "catch the last train to Clarksville," Tenn. Neither did Stephen Foster ever venture "way down upon the Suwannee River."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

ISSUE 83: Dear Charlie

Charlie Rich

Marvelous essay about the life and career of Charlie Rich. From the site:

Along the way, Sy co-founded American Studios, the legendary soul music studio, with Chips Moman, the producer who eventually recorded the Box Tops, Dusty Springfield, and Elvis Presley’s 1969 homecoming, “From Elvis in Memphis.” It was at American that Natalie befriended a talented teenage songwriter who hung around the studio, Isaac Hayes. He was American’s first customer, recording a demo called “Laura, We’re on Our Last Go-Round.” To earn money, Hayes babysat Natalie’s young children.

In 1966, when Charlie Rich was at a nadir in his career, Sy moved him to Hi Records, a small-time local studio, and Natalie brought Isaac Hayes in so Charlie could take a shot at one of his songs, “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.” As Natalie recalls, the backing band was composed of legendary session players from Stax and Hi—the Memphis Horns, Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson, along with Tommy Cogbill on bass and Willie Hall on drums. Hayes sat next to Charlie at the piano and taught him the song before they recorded it in one take. For “Pass on By,” Sy Rosenberg himself blew a meandering trumpet solo in the background.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Musician’s Hall of Fame Grand Opening

Picture of Bobby W., Reggie, and Allen Reynolds at the Nashville Musician’s Hall of Fame Grand Opening. This was taken several months ago but it’s still great to see them up and running again! Check out the life-sized photo taken in the sixties during Elvis’s sessions at American.

Bobby Wood, Reggie Young and Allen Reynolds

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Respect Yourself – The Rise and Fall of Stax Records

 Interview Robert Gordon, Author Of 'Respect Yourself Stax Records And The Soul_2013-12-15_20-23-10

Here are a few links about Robert Gordon’s book Respect Yourself – The Rise and Fall of Stax Records.

Links to two excellent interviews:

Article about Stax written by Robert Gordon:

Brief excerpt from the above article:

The success of Stax had everything to do with its new location, an old movie theater on an unassuming corner, McLemore Avenue and College Street, in South Memphis. The neighborhood was transitioning from white to black and most of the label's early stars simply walked in the front door and were given auditions by the open-minded and open-eared founders. The new location had been discovered by guitarist Chips Moman, who was then Jim Stewart's right-hand man. In less than a decade, he would be running one of the most successful labels of all time, American, where hits were recorded on everyone from Elvis to Neil Diamond, Dusty Springfield to Herbie Mann. It's likely Moman was drawn to the area because Hi Records, then having instrumental hits with the Bill Black Combo (and later home to Al Green), was located about a mile away, also in a converted movie theater. 

Historical Marker approved for American Sound Studio & Poplar Tunes Record Shop


Mike Freeman, member of the Shelby County Historical Commission, reports that the commission recently voted to approve an American Sound Studio marker at Chelsea and Thomas. According to Mike, the dedication ceremony date should take place in the Spring of 2014.  

By the way, Mike has a new blog with lots of great posts about Memphis music. Have a look!

Mike Freeman’s Flickr Photos

Memphis historian Mike Freeman has a great Flickr site – lots of photos related to southern history and with plenty of music-related collections. Pictures of American Studio site can be found here:

Plastic Products and Other Music Places - a set on Flickr - Pale Moon_2013-12-15_10-52-22

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Spooner Oldham Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2009 Induction

An oldie-but-goodie featuring Spooner being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:


Mandy Barnett Brings Back “Blue Blue Day”

Mandy Barnett Brings Back “Blue Blue Day” - Pale Moon_2013-12-14_13-22-22

From the site:

Celebrated for portraying the title role in Always … Patsy Cline at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Barnett befriended Gibson when she was an aspiring singer in her 20s. Now she’s now honoring the Country Music Hall of Fame member by surrounding herself with studio all-stars like guitarist Harold Bradley, pianist Hargus “Pig” Robbins, harmonica player Charlie McCoy, steel guitarist Lloyd Green and drummer Gene Chrisman.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Culture Musicians Hall of Fame Reopens Today in Municipal Auditorium

Front row: (l-r) Shane Keister, Bobby Emmons, Ron (Snake) Reynolds, 4x, Ernie Winfree, Lou Bradley, Pete Finney, Gordon Kennedy, Will McFarlane, Clayton Ivey and JI Allison (standing) Middle row: Bruce Bouton, Mark Miller, Ray Edenton. Back row: Jim Horn, Sonny Curtis, Chris Leuzinger, Bobby Wood, Gene Chrisman, 6x, Reggie Young, Corky O’Dell, Duane Eddy, Joe Chambers, Steve Cropper, Brian Ahern, Charlie McCoy, Chuck Mead, Garry Tallent, Matthew Beckett, Mark Beckett, Mike Chapman, Jay McDowell

Reopening of Musician’s Hall of Fame in Nashville – Gene, Bobby, and Reggie are in the photo above.

From the site:

After closing over three years ago to make room for the Music City Center, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum reopens today. In a reception last night, founder and CEO Joe Chambers thanked the many supporters in the room, especially for their assistance in restoring many instruments that were damaged in the 2010 flood.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sunday Morning Coming Down


Memphis Boys on Highwaymen Tour

Enjoyed this rendition of Kris’s great song Sunday Morning Coming Down. Check out Reggie’s great guitar playing on this! Great stuff!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New box set focuses on Elvis Presley's sessions at Memphis Stax Records

New box set focuses on Elvis Presley's sessions at Memphis Stax Records » The Co_2013-08-11_11-35-26

From the site:

This week, Sony put out a box set titled Elvis at Stax, a three-CD package documenting Presley’s July and December 1973 sessions at the South Memphis studio. Its release will be celebrated Tuesday with a special ceremony at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, part of the annual Elvis Week festivities…


…In addition to a mix of members of Elvis’ touring band (guitarist James Burton, drummer Ronnie Tutt) and a few former American Studios players (guitarist Reggie Young, bassist Tommy Cogbill), several Stax musicians, including MG’s bassist Duck Dunn, drummer Al Jackson Jr. and guitarist Bobby Manuel, were summoned to play with Presley.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

More thunder on the piano: Ronnie Milsap relives Memphis days with Elvis Presley (Video)

More thunder on the piano Ronnie Milsap relives Memphis days with Elvis Presley_2013-08-10_11-56-37

From the site:

How did you come to play piano and sing harmonies on Elvis’ legendary 1969 sessions at American Sound Studios in Memphis?

Well, I was living in Atlanta when I had my first mini hit in 1965, a Top 20 R&B ballad written by Ashford & Simpson called “Never Had It So Good.” Incidentally, it was my first record for Scepter Records, and audiences seeing me open for Sam & Dave and James Brown were probably shocked to discover that I was white [laughs].

Two years later Scepter asked me to record my next single at American with producer Chips Moman and the Memphis Boys [Gene Chrisman/drums, Reggie Young/guitar, Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech/bass, Bobby Emmons/organ, and Bobby Wood/piano]. I thought it was a great idea, and that session helped me get my foot in the door.

I soon got a residency at the prestigious Playboy Club in Atlanta, where I was working an unbelievable six hours a night, six nights a week. Anyway, Chips showed up one night. He was pleased with our previous session and urged me to move to Memphis.

He told me that he would get me session work at American, introduce me to music industry bigwigs, produce my next hit, and land me a job at T.J.’s, a very busy nightclub owned by Jewish businessman Herbie O’Mell. Everything came true except for the hit record. Tommy Cogbill, who I admired very much, also talked to me, and I was finally convinced to make the move in November 1968 with my wife, Joyce.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Plantation Inn: Where stars rose in the west

old matchcover for the Plantation Inn, West Memphis, Ark.  Flickr - Photo Shari_2013-07-27_09-28-28

From the site:

Across the Mississippi Bridge in West Memphis, in the parking lot of Pancho's Mexican restaurant, is the site where the Plantation Inn Nite Club once stood. While there's no marker, plaque or sign noting that fact, the impact of the club -- the music it hosted and the musicians it fostered -- can still be felt decades after its demise.

Here are three other good links about the Plantation Inn:

Jim Dickinson: Where Memphis Music Comes from

Friday, July 26, 2013

Nashville Muscle Shoals Connection

Nashville Muscle Shoals Connection


Nashville Muscle Shoals Connection. - YouTube - Mozilla Firefox_2013-07-26_20-56-54

This is great – Dan Penn is featured on this but also Donnie Fritts, David Hood, Larry Jon Wilson, Spooner Oldham and many others!

Reggie is interviewed starting at 7’38” – good stuff!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

07/08 Merrilee Rush, The Hollywood Show

PM Show with Michael Horn on CRN 0708 Merrilee Rush, The Hollywood Show - Mozi_2013-07-09_20-58-52

From the site:

Merrilee Rush (born Merrilee Gunst, January 26, 1944, Seattle, Washington) is an American singer, best known for her recording of the song "Angel of the Morning", a Top 10 hit which earned her a Grammy nomination for female vocalist of the year in 1968.

Rush grew up in Seattle's North End, and studied classical piano from a young age. In 1960, she auditioned and became the singer for the Amazing Aztecs, a Seattle-area rock & roll band led by saxophone player Neil Rush, whom she would later marry. The two went on to form Merrilee and Her Men, doing mostly cover versions of pop hits, and then joined rhythm and blues group Tiny Tony and the Statics, whose regional hit "Hey Mrs. Jones", on the Bolo label, featured Rush's keyboard playing and vocals.

In 1965 the pair formed Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts, who soon became a popular act on the Pacific Northwest's teen dancehall circuit. A member of the group's road crew also worked for Paul Revere and the Raiders, and through this connection, Rush was invited to be the opening act on the Raiders' tour of the southern United States in 1967. While in Memphis, Tennessee, Raiders lead vocalist Mark Lindsay introduced Rush to record producer Chips Moman.

Rush's version of "Angel of the Morning" was recorded at Moman's American Studio in Memphis in early 1968, and was produced by Moman and Tommy Cogbill. Released by Bell Records in late June 1968, the song climbed to #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and was a major hit in several other countries as well. The one millionth sale of this record was reported by the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.) in 1970. Although credited to 'Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts', both the single and subsequent album (also called Angel Of The Morning) were recorded using the same musicians who played on Elvis Presley's famous Memphis recordings.
"Angel of the Morning" garnered Rush a Grammy Award nomination for best Contemporary Pop Female Vocalist of the year. She was nominated along with Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl"), Dionne Warwick ("Do You Know the Way to San Jose"), Aretha Franklin ("I Say a Little Prayer"), and Mary Hopkin ("Those Were the Days"). Warwick was the eventual winner

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Nashville Cat

A Nashville Cat  Larry Gross Online - Mozilla Firefox_2013-06-30_20-53-57

Watch the clip to hear Larry Butler talk about writing Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song with Chips.

From the site:

He truly was a Nashville Cat. Larry Butler wasn’t a great singer and never had his own hit records but he was a great piano player, songwriter and record producer.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dan Penn on Bobby Bland’s Influential Voice

ISSUE 2728 Bobby Bland’s Influential Voice  Oxford American - The Southern M_2013-06-29_10-27-41

Sad news -- Bobby Blue Bland passed away last Sunday (June 23, 2013). Oxford American magazine recently reprinted a 1999 interview with Dan Penn on Bland’s influence.

From the site:

In his recent autobiography, B. B. King wrote that Bobby "Blue" Bland is his favorite blues singer. King is not alone in his praise. Bland's vocal power combines the glottal intensity of a gospel shouter with the smoothness of a crooner. He brings a vocal range to blues performance that is straight out of Sunday morning worship. His first recordings were for Modern and Chess in the early '50s, but it was with Don Robey's Houston-based Duke label that he established himself as a premier force in rhythm and blues. He scored chart-topping r&b hits with the #5 "Farther Up the Road"­­—perhaps the definitive Texas shuffle—in 1957 and with the #1 "I Pity the Fool" in 1961; "Turn On Your Love Light" reached #2 in the same year.

Bland was born on January 27, 1930, in Rosemark, Tennessee. As a boy he learned to sing white country blues via Gene Steele's radio show and the Grand Ole Opry. On the street corners of his hometown, he earned nickels and dimes singing hillbilly music. He moved to Memphis with his mother in 1947. It was the wrong time and place for a black country artist to emerge, and the young singer ventured down Beale Street into the world of rhythm and blues. Bland established popularity with black audiences by touring the "chitlin circuit" in the Blues Consolidated Revue with Junior Parker. After moving to Houston and teaming up with arranger and bandleader Joe Scott, he found the ultimate vehicle for his voice. Scott's arrangements combined jazz sophistication with rhythmic horn charts and featured the seminal blues guitarist Wayne Bennett.

About the music that has influenced him, he has said, "I like the soft touch. I don't like the harsh. I listened to a lot of Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole for diction, for delivery. And I still know more about hillbilly tunes than I do blues. Hank Snow, Hank Williams, Eddy Arnold—so much feeling, so much sadness." In the mid-'80s he started recording for the Malaco blues label based in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1997 his Sad Street album was nominated for a Grammy in the best contemporary blues category, and his recent album "Live" on Beale Street proves his voice is as robust as ever.

In the early '60s a young blue-eyed soul singer named Dan Penn modeled his sound on Bland's unique voice. Penn went on to become a leading r&b songwriter through the success of such hits as "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" for Aretha Franklin, "Dark End of the Street" for James Carr, "Out of Left Field" for Percy Sledge, and "I'm Your Puppet" for James and Bobby Purify. Before establishing his reputation as a songwriter, Penn fronted bands like the Pallbearers and the Mark V who played frat parties, sock hops, and local dances all over the South, covering the gamut of Bland's repertoire. From his home in Nashville he offered his appreciation of Bobby "Blue" Bland's music.

LES BACK: How would you sum up Bobby Bland as a vocalist?

DAN PENN: Bobby Bland was just the Man. You wanted to be like him, at least I did—just a great, great singer. He had exceptional delivery and understanding. He made you understand what the song means to him. He didn't just shuffle through, you know—it's also blood and guts. The r&b records that I loved are not prominent or in your face. Listen to "Share Your Love with Me," the one with the strings—that's my favorite. That one, and "Two Steps from the Blues" are the two that stick out for me. I have to say that I've never heard records any better than those. No gimmicks, just pure blues pop. Nobody's ever beat 'em.

LB: I guess you could say those records are blues with a heavy gospel influence and feel, too.

DP: Once you've been to the church as a child, there's a streak of something that goes right through you. Put it this way: you've got to go a long way to beat spiritual music. They've got something to talk about, and it's so emotional. I got the r&b and the gospel feel from Ray Charles and Bland; I also got that from Aretha and all the black gospel acts. John Richbourg on WLAC played nothing but black music right here in Nashville. It was all over the South. It was one of the biggest things of the '50s. I mean, if you didn't know where WLAC was on your radio, then you weren't hip. My world was lily-white as far as my church music, but even lily-white people got soul, you know? Once I heard black people on the radio—Ray Charles and Bobby "Blue" Bland—it was all over for me. I said to myself, This is the best stuff around, and I still hold that opinion. I still think that black church music is as good as it's gonna get. I've never heard anything better.

LB: Early in your career, didn't you cover "Turn On Your Love Light"?

DP: Yeah, we did. Every Southern band did that one. He just had that really great voice. Going on down the line there was a lot of great singers, but Bobby Bland just had that growl. It was the creamiest of growls. He had this real Grrraaa thing in his voice, but it was all creamy. Back then it would just totally take you away, even more than James Brown and Ray Charles.

LB: Would you rate him as a better singer than both of them?

DP: In his prime I would put his voice above them, but maybe not his talent. It was the blues, but country was kind of the other side of the coin.

LB: Did you know that Bobby Bland grew up listening to hillbilly music and country blues?

DP: We're beginning to find out that a lot of the black singers, and some of the better ones, had that influence. I don't know what that means, except that maybe he, and a lot of other black singers of that period, had a pretty good insight into white people. They got a chance to check 'em out on Saturday night, and it was interesting, I think, for them to hear that music, it was more interesting to them than it was to me—of course I was cross-listening the other way. A lot of Southern whites, including myself, were listening to the black stuff and were interested in that. [Blacks were] interested in hearing the Grand Ole Opry. Arthur Alexander was that way, and I think so was Percy [Sledge]. I found out that Bland did like country, because in the '70s, when he cut one of my songs, I got to meet him. I got to go down to the studio here in Nashville, where he was cutting a country album.

LB: That must have been the Get On Down with Bobby Bland album.

DP: Yeah. He cut my song "I Hate You." He just cut the fool out of it. He had a really great feel on it. I felt just great that I had a Bobby Bland cut, although it was late in the game, and it was sort of country—it was still Bobby Bland. He didn't really cut it country; he put a swing to it.

LB: You must be proud of that one.

DP: I am, yes, 'cause it's Bobby "Blue" Bland. Some records you can count your money, and some records you can just count your blessings. He was just one of them people that you always admired so much. They used to call me Bobby "Blue" Penn back in the early '60s when I was with the Mark V and the Pallbearers. They did that in the South in a lot of the places because I sang so much like Bland. And like all white guys doin' that, I thought I sounded just like him. And my wife Linda said that I did, and I am sure I didn't [laughing].

LB: He's someone who is mentioned whenever I talk to Southern soul and r&b musicians.

DP: He was a big influence on the white singers, I'll tell you that, and not only me. I think he had as much influence as Ray Charles, but Bobby Bland just took it one step further. Oh man, he just kept going with that growl. He just put that growl on it, and it just floored all of us. I can't say enough good things about Bobby Bland. I guess that's what it comes down to, don't it? It's like, well, who had the best voice?

Bobby Bland did.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Foundation purchases original Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, which recorded Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and more

Foundation purchases original Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, which recorded Rollin_2013-06-22_19-15-01

Little bit off topic, but great to see that the 3614 Jackson Highway building will be preserved in this manner.

From the site:

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The Muscle Shoals Music Foundation today acquired the home of the original Muscle Shoals Sound Studios at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, according to board chairman Rodney Hall.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Today: Chips Moman was born 76 years ago in 1937

Today Chips Moman was born 76 years ago in 1937  Johanna's Visions - Mozilla F_2013-06-15_09-07-22

From the site:

Chips Moman, now semi-retired and living in LaGrange, Ga., still writes songs occasionally. “I write ‘em,” he says, “but I just leave ‘em laying there.” (- The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, 2008)

One of the most important characters in the Memphis music scene in the 60′s. Chips Moman helped start Stax Records, then American Sound Studios, which cut 122 chart hits from 1967 to 1972 — an unparalleled achievement.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sweet Caroline

Instant Index Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' Even Sweeter  Video - ABC News -_2013-04-26_19-37-04

Neil Diamond has donated royalties from sales of Sweet Caroline to help bombing victims after the recent tragedy in Boston. This story by ABC-TV shows lots of regular people singing the song – can we get some props for the great band who backed Neil on this record?

Monday, April 15, 2013

1971 Billboard Magazine

A story about American from the May 22, 1971 issue of Billboard Magazine.  Also, a link to the entire Billboard issue (a special on Memphis music) in case you’d like to browse further:,+1971&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Z5ZsUen7Ioym9gS7uYC4BQ&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=billboard%20may%2022%2C%201971&f=false


Billboard - Google Books - Mozilla Firefox_2013-04-15_20-02-26

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bobby Wood - Keyboardist - The Memphis Boys - Elvis

Bobby Wood - Keyboardist - The Memphis Boys - Elvis 0408 by Chillin In AJs Gara_2013-04-14_11-11-27—elvis

From the site:

We are extremely honored to have a musical studio legend joining us this week... Bobby Wood!

There is not enough space here to write everything Bobby has achieved in the music business but here are a few highlights.

As part of "The Memphis Boys" studio group at American Studios in Memphis, Bobby played on over 122 chart hits in a four year span.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Southern soul songwriter Dan Penn revisits past with new record, return to Memphis

Southern soul songwriter Dan Penn revisits past with new record, return to Memph_2013-03-10_09-13-59

From the site:

Back in the mid-1960s, Dan Penn was what you’d call an all-nighter. A workaholic, a musical obsessive, he spent his wee hours at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., doing what he did best: wrestling songs to the ground.

Fueled by copious amounts of coffee, cigarettes and speed, and buoyed by a burning passion for R&B, Penn — usually with his writing partner and pianist Spooner Oldham in tow — would come to shape Southern soul music during those late nights.

“I had a big passion for what I was doing,” says the 71-year-old Penn. “We’d start in the evening, fooling around, looking for an idea or a groove. Then we’d write and cut till 2, 3, 4 in the morning; sometimes we’d stay there till sun came up. We were young and had a lot of energy then but that seems like another lifetime ago.”

Soul Hero Dan Penn Comes Back to Memphis for a Concert at Rhodes

Dan Penn

From the site:

 Memphis Flyer: I don't know how else to ask. How do you write a song as good as "The Dark End of the Street"?
Dan Penn: That's a good question. If you find out, tell me, because I'd like to write another one like it. Chips and me were really close at that time. We knew each other pretty good, and we had a lot of doggone respect for each other. And we'd had a lot of good times together. Also, I think songwriters, Southern songwriters at least, are inspired by Hank Williams. "Your Cheatin' Heart" is about the best slipping-around song there is. Then Jimmy Hughes did "Steal Away."

And you were at FAME when Hughes recorded that, right?
I got to watch all that go down. And I learned a lot. I didn't feel like I was stealing from him [on "Dark End of the Street"], but he was definitely an inspiration. So you keep on trying to write this particular kind of cheating song. And in the '60s that seemed to be highly important.

Having written hits already, when you finished writing "Dark End," did you know it was going to be your "Your Cheatin' Heart"?
I thought it was good when James Carr sang it. I can't say that I knew it right off because we wrote it in a hotel room in Nashville, and it was a good while before we had the demo down where we could play it back.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Sandy Finds Her Calling

WKNO’s Rob Grayson has a great article about Sandy Posey:

If you called to book a session at American Studios on Thomas back in the mid-1960’s, chances are you would talk to a lady named Sandy Posey. Similarly, if you were a song publisher wanting to interest producer Chips Moman in recording one of your tunes, receptionist Sandy Posey would be the first person you would talk with. Perhaps the conversation would turn to the fact that Sandy herself was a singer. All supposition aside, for one industrious song plugger, that information turned into a opportunity to say, “Sandy, I think I have something that just might be a perfect fit for you.”

Writer Roben Jones shares the story in her book Memphis Boys, The Story of American Studios. Gary Walker, representing Painted Desert Music, came by to pitch some songs for the Gentrys’ second album. And somewhere in his repertoire was a song Martha Sharp wrote titled “Born A Woman.” Walker invited Posey to come to Muscle Shoals and sing the demo version of the song. It didn’t happen overnight, but Chips got around to cutting the master of the song, and Sandy was his pick for the singer.

American Studios was still in the process of converting from monaural to 4-track recording, so the session was held at Royal Studios with Moman at the board. The home studio for Hi Records, Royal had immediate access to multi-track facilities. Scotty Moore played guitar on the session, and in the band were couple of guys who would become regulars at American Studios in the months to come, Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Great Day In Memphis & For Papa Willie Mitchell: Royal Studios Historical Marker Dedication


This is so great – a historical marker was dedicated in front of Willie Mitchells’ Royal Studios (3-1-12). Remarks by Jack Hale, Teenie Hodges, Charles Hodges, Archie Turner, Otis Clay, Howard Grimes, the Rhodes Sisters, and Bobby Blue Bland!

From the site:

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. & "Real Talk With Tha Artivist" presents... "A Great Day In Memphis & One For Papa Willie Mitchell: Royal Studios Historical Marker Dedication" (3-1-2012) Recording Great Music since 1957 Constructed as a theater in 1915 and converted into Royal Studios in 1957, Royal Studios, home of Hi Records and the Hi Rhythm Section, grew from a minor rockabilly studio into one of the most successful producers of soul music worldwide. Willie Mitchell pioneered the Hi Records signature soul sound at Royal Studios, personified by singers O.V. Wright, Ann Peebles, Otis Clay, Syl Johnson and Al Green, whose “Let’s Stay Together” topped Billboard charts in February 1972.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Zoro's History of Funk Drumming Series / 1967 Memphis Soul Stew

Zoro's History of Funk Drumming Series  1967 Memphis Soul Stew - YouTube - Mozi_2013-01-28_20-28-37

From the YouTube site:

Presented by Zoro, this series of video lessons features some of the grooves that charted the course of history -- starting in the 1940s when shuffles ruled the airwaves, through the dawning of drum-machine inspired hip-hop beats in the late 1970s.

Zoro explains each groove in the series, why the beat made an impact as well as some insights into the feel. In all, Zoro breaks down 23 of the drum grooves that charted R&B/Funk/Hip-Hop history.

Check out the full feature on


Zoro plays and discusses Gene Chrisman’s drumming on “Memphis Soul Stew”

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chips’ Work Ethic

Here’s a screenshot from Chips’ website that was active in the early 2000s.


Note the quote from Chips in the first paragraph:

“We didn’t ever want to turn anybody away. We never thought that we were making music history. We were just glad to have the work and we thought if we turned anybody away, they would go down the street and find somebody that actually knew what they were doing.”

Of course, we now know that they were making music history and that they actually knew what they were doing! And that’s an understatement!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bulger's Beat: Soulful pianist highlights biggest hits


From the site:

Musical success isn't just about the star standing in front of the stage. You can't forget about the side musicians who really help make the songs come to life.

One of those very talented musicians, Bobby Wood, and his piano show up on some of the most popular songs you've been singing over the last 40 years.

Wood's piano chords are probably most familiar on Sweet Caroline, and he's still surprised to hear it belted during sports stadium sing-alongs.

"When it got to the chorus, Sweet Caroline, the whole crowd went, 'Bom-Bom-Bom.' We were all amazed, and our guys are all drawing social security, thinking 'you're not supposed to know that song,'" Wood said.

Chances are there's a lot you didn't think you knew about Wood, including many tunes with Elvis and a whopping 122 hit songs in one four-year-span.

His recipe for music success was always soul.

"I don't care what genre of music you're in, there ought to be some soul in it," Wood said.

That soul originates with a cotton-pickin' kid from rural Mississippi.

"Music was our love, cotton was our trade," he said.

Now, it's all told in his new book Walking Among Giants, where practicing piano at the age of 9 eventually led to the stage.

He's 71 now and modestly credits his success for knowing when not to play on a song.

"Some of these piano players play more in three seconds than I've played all my life," Wood said.

These days, Wood spends his time in his Music Row office with a couple of different keyboards at his fingertips.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

American Sound Studio On World Cafe

American Sound Studio On World Cafe  NPR - Mozilla Firefox_2013-01-19_04-41-28é

From the site:

"Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley. "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" by Aretha Franklin. "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield. "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. All of these legendary songs were recorded at Memphis' American Sound Studio, the last of the five studios we're featuring in our trip to Memphis as part of the quarterly "Sense of Place" series.

Between 1967 and 1971, the studio produced approximately 120 hit songs. Musician and producer Ben Vaughn is uniquely poised to discuss the rise and fall of American Sound: Besides his love of the music, he worked with the American house band, The Memphis Boys, on Arthur Alexander's 1993 album Lonely Just Like Me. Vaughn goes through some of the most important songs to come out of American and shares his experience working with The Memphis Boys.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A Man Needs A Woman


Colin Dilnot’s liner notes from the Kent Records 2003 release of James Carr’s A Man Needs a Woman. Nice job describing the session – draws from a variety of sources, including my 2001 interview with Chips.

Is it possible that fate and chance, time and place can all combine to make a piece of music that continues to mesmerise us until today? One such meeting of fate, chance, time and place was the recording of James Carr’s “Dark End Of The Street” on Goldwax in the fall of 1966.

The song was a product of a multi-ethnic mix, which had been sown in the soil of Memphis and washed up on the banks of the Mississippi over several generations. It was the coming together of a disparate group of people – James Carr the son of a preacher, Quinton Claunch a businessman and record producer, Chips Moman a Georgian guitar player and Dan Penn a singer/song-writer from Vernon Alabama and several other players. The song was recorded at a time when Memphis was on the verge of disintegration because of the issues, which ran out of years of a segregated black population. The place of the recording was the only time Goldwax ever recorded there – the Royal Recording Studios, which also came about by chance.

I’ve tried to piece together the events, which produced what most people would agree was the archetypal soul record and demonstrate that sometimes the fates conspire to bring about the best creations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bobby Wood shares tales of working with music legends


“For about as long as Bobby Wood can remember, he's been a musician.

"I grew up in a gospel family," he said. "We all had to sing, play an instrument or both. From the time I was about five years old, I was playing piano."

That talent served to carve out a successful career, covering a variety of musical genres.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

American Recording Studios ... The other Historic Memphis Studio


“American Sound Studio was a recording  studio at 827 Thomas Street.  Almost no one remembers it as they remember Sun and Stax Records.  But more than one hundred hit songs were recorded there between 1967 and 1972 and also listed in Billboard's Top 100.  During a one week span, 25% of Billboard's top 100 not only came from this studio, but featured the same house band backing a variety of artists.  During its brief lifespan, American produced in excess of 40 gold records.  Among the artists who recorded at there were Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Neil Diamond, Dusty Springfield, B. J. Thomas,  Joe Tex, Roy Hamilton, The Box Tops, and Bobby Womack.  Perhaps American is not well known because most of the hits produced there were not for the American label, but for major labels who hired the studio for its excellent team of producers, musicians, writers and arrangers.  American was different because it excelled in the production of multiple styles of music, including Rock, R&B, Pop, Jazz, and Country.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

Nice Message Thread from

Nice posts about American from – lots of good pictures so be sure to scroll through all six pages:


Sunday, October 07, 2012

Traveling The Americana Music Triangle, “Bourbon, Beale, Broadway & Back” – Back to Memphis .


Great essay and photos from Anthony Scarlati’s blog:

Sometimes in life you head down the road in a direction that at the time seems right.  You have a destination in mind, you have a plan.  Well guess what, plans and destinations don’t always work on a roadtrip such as the one that I have found myself on.  As I head East in search of Jackson, Tn, I can’t help but feel that I have forgotten something.  Something really big and yes I had.  In a  few days the city of Memphis was going to be filled with Elvis fans from all over the world to pay their respects to the King.   It was 35 years ago that Elvis Aaron Presley had passed on and in the wake of his untimely death an almost cult like worshiping has occurred in honor of the man and his music.  A worshiping that seems to grow each year in proportions that just don’t seem possible.  I am so close to throwing myself head first into this phenomena, with that twinkle in my eye that means only one thing. Hang one this will be fun.  So with all that I turn the car around and start to make a few calls.  Back to Memphis, and don’t worry Jackson I will be there in just a few days, their is something I just have to do.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Guitarist on Aretha Franklin’s “Think”

Tommy Cogbill played the guitar part on Aretha Franklin’s Think. Posters on the Soulful Detroit blog are discussing what a great guitar part this is – there are questions about who the guitarist was but this poster gets it right:
I checked my Aretha box set last night - it credits the guitarists on "Think" as Tommy Cogbill and Jimmy Johnson. As Phil says Jimmy is a rhythm guitarist, he's on almost everything Aretha recorded for Atlantic in 67-68 almost always with another guitarist who's presumably the lead. "Think" was recorded April 15th 1968 in a five day run of sessions (4/14 to 4/18). Jimmy Johnson's on almost every track recorded, Tommy's on three or four. So it looks as if it's definitely Tommy. Bobby Womack was not on any of the April sessions, nor was Matt Murphy who as far as I know only played on the film version of "Think". I'd say that pretty much nails it.
Jimmy is playing quarter note chords throughout the verses while Tommy is playing the lead. Technically, Tommy's part is an obbligato (defined as a persistent but subordinate motif) being played behind Aretha's magnificent vocal. It's subtle but great stuff!

Click on the arrow to listen to the audio (click again to stop):

Friday, September 21, 2012

Going Uptown?


Nice article from Preston Lauterbach (really good writer) about the history of Thomas Street – I had linked to this on another post quite a while ago but I believe the link is no longer functional:

“New residential developments sparkle on both sides of Danny Thomas Boulevard north of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Optimistic names like Metropolitan Apartments and Uptown Homes seem to promise a brighter future to these once-blighted streets.

Just north of Uptown, past Chelsea Avenue, after Danny Thomas becomes Thomas Street, the strip of black-owned and black-run barbershops, hot-wings stands, juke joints, and nightclubs looks like something out of this city's celebrated past. It's the kind of soulful authenticity that distinguishes Memphis from other places. In fact, some locals describe Thomas as the real Beale Street. “

Monday, September 10, 2012

Video of The Memphis Boys Salute Concert Now Available to Elvis Insiders


Elvis Insiders Basic and Plus members can now check out a bonus video of a special performance during Elvis Week 2012 at The Memphis Boys Salute Concert. The video features Andy Childs and Terry Mike Jeffrey along with the legendary American Sound Studio band, The Memphis Boys, performing Elvis' hit song "Suspicious Minds." Insiders also have access to exclusive interviews with Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley, plus video of this year's surprise Elvis Insiders flash mob. Log-in to and click on the MEDIA section to watch the new videos!

The Forgotten Story Of Memphis' American Studios

NPR story about Roben Jones’ book and CD Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios:


Memphis has been a music town since anyone can remember, and it's had places to record that music since there have been records. Some of its studios — Sun, Stax and Hi — are well-known, but American Studios produced its share of hits, and yet it remains obscure. But that's all likely to change with Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios, both a book and a CD out now.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Elvis Presley's 'Suspicious Minds'

From Marc Myers' blog:

“One of the many joys about writing for the Wall Street Journal is being given the opportunity to report in-depth on rock, pop and soul songs I love. One such song is Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds. In today's edition of "Friday Journal" (or online here), I interview Mark James, the song's writer, and Chips Moman, the legendary producer who founded American Sound Studio, about the song's origins and evolution."


Caught in a Trap: Elvis's Last No. 1 Hit

“In the late 1960s, as the landscape of rock and soul shifted underneath him, Elvis Presley's career began to sputter. Then, some headway: A TV special in December 1968 rekindled interest, and the following month Presley headed into the studio to record what would become "From Elvis in Memphis"—a rock-soul album that is still considered one of his finest. "In the Ghetto" from those sessions went to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. And 43 years ago this week, a Memphis recording that didn't make the album was released as a single. "Suspicious Minds" went to No. 1 in November 1969. It led to Presley's "comeback," albeit one that would later play out largely in Las Vegas.”


Wednesday, August 29, 2012


“Legendary producer, songwriter, guitarist, and studio owner Chips Moman took part in a special interview recently (8/18) at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Moman, who helped establish Memphis’ Stax Records and later opened the city’s American Sound Studio, played a pivotal role in creating a great number of pop, soul, and country classics. Moman produced Elvis Presley’s 1969 comeback album From Elvis in Memphis as well as sessions for Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, the Highwaymen and others. He also co-wrote “Dark End of the Street,” “Do Right Woman,” “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” and other hit songs.”


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good writeup on Chips' recent CMHOF interview from Brad Hardisty at the Nashville Bridge:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Poets & Prophets–Dan Penn

One more CMHOF interview – Dan Penn interviewed in October 2010. Really great interview!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wayne Carson CMHOF Interview December 2011

Here’s an interview with songwriter Wayne Carson -- he talks about Chips and the gang at about 55 minutes in:

A nice quote about the American days:

Carson traveled with Siman to Memphis and met Moman at American Sound, where a new recording console was being installed. "A room like that made you want to play music," said Carson, who recited several of the musicians working as the house band at American, including Gene Chrisman, Tommy Cogbill, Bobby Emmons, Mike Leech, Bobby Wood, and Reggie Young. "Those guys will make your day. It was amazing music. I learned nearly everything I know there."

Here's Wayne's discography from his web site:

Chips Moman CMHOF Interview

If you missed Chips’ interview, you can download the audio here – it’s a huge file (almost 72M). I am assuming the entire interview will be accessible on the CMHOF website very shortly. Will link to that when it becomes available. Enjoy!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Memphis Boys Greet Fans

The Memphis Boys greet Elvis fans at the Elvis Week Main Stage on August 14, 2012. Check out daily news and event coverage including video recaps, photo galleries, blogs and more at


Packed House for Elvis Week - Day 5

The day’s headline attraction came a few hours later as a near-capacity crowd filed into the Main Stage pavilion. The night belonged to the Memphis Boys, the heavyweight house band of American Sound Studio in Memphis. These are the guys who provided the music for more than 100 hit songs from 1967 until the studio closed in ’72. The Memphis Boys were musical chameleons and worked magic for a variety of artists from Neil Diamond and Aretha Franklin to Wilson Pickett and Dusty Springfield. Their highest profile collaboration was, of course, with the King himself. The group recorded a total of 30 tracks with Elvis, some being his more popular cuts.



Chips Moman: The Cream Interview

This is fabulous – the Nashville Cream interviews Chips Moman:

“Recovering from a successful hip-replacement operation, the laconic Moman spoke to the Cream from his West Georgia home turf. But if you want to hear Moman tell Elvis stories, you’ll have to make the trip to the Hall of Fame — whether it was the ghost of Elvis playing a trick on Chips, or just the phone line, the portion of the Cream’s interview that deals with Presley was completely inaudible.”


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pics of Memphis Boys at Elvis Week Celebration

Musicians Remember Elvis' Talent, Character

“Keyboardist Bobby Wood bonded with Elvis because they were both from Mississippi, were from spiritual families and were lovers of gospel music. Presley was born in Tupelo and Wood grew up in nearby New Albany.

Wood recalls one day when they were sitting in the control room and he complimented Elvis on a diamond and ruby ring he was wearing.

“He just pulled it off and handed it to me. I looked and his name was on the inside of it,” Wood said. “I just handed it back to him and he said, ‘No, that’s yours.’“

Wood refused to take the ring: “I said, ‘I’m just here for you, man, I just want to be your friend. You don’t need to give me anything.’“

Stories about Presley’s generosity abound in his beloved Memphis.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hit-making house band The Memphis Boys gets Elvis Week recognition

From the site:

Bobby Wood remembers well the day he became a member of Chips Moman's American Sound Studios house band of the late '60s and early '70s, The Memphis Boys. 
The New Albany, Miss., native recounts in his upcoming memoir, "Walking Among the Giants: From Elvis to Garth: The Bobby Wood Story," his days as a struggling solo artist with one minor hit (1964's "If I'm A Fool For Loving You"), and how Moman, after years of trying, lured him to play piano with his roster of ace session players. Those players included guitarist/bassist/producer Tommy Cogbill, guitarist Reggie Young, keyboardist Bobby Emmons, drummer Gene Chrisman, and bassist/string arranger Mike Leech.

The group will be recognized next week as part of Elvis Week 35th anniversary events. Woods will sign copies of his book, The Memphis Boys will be honored with a brass note on Beale Street, and surviving members of the band will reunite for a concert at Graceland.

Wood's first assignment as a member of The Memphis Boys, also known at times as the American Group or the 827 Thomas Street Band (after the studio's address in North Memphis), was to help them finish a record by a British pop singer looking to reinvent herself.

"I ended up finishing up the Dusty Springfield album," Wood says of playing on Dusty In Memphis, a perennial entry on almost every magazine's list of the greatest records of all time. "It was a good way to start."

With the addition of Wood, the lineup was complete on one of the most successful bands of all time. Between 1968 and the closing of the studio in 1972, the band played on an unmatched 122 Billboard hits, including classic cuts by Springfield ("Son Of A Preacher Man"), B.J. Thomas ("Hooked On A Feeling"), The Box Tops ("The Letter"), Neil Diamond ("Sweet Caroline") and Elvis Presley ("Suspicious Minds").

The streak continued long after American, too. In 1972, the band moved to Nashville — that's where The Memphis Boys name first stuck — and recorded even more hit records by Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. They remain in demand today, both as individual players and as a unit, having recently been called into the studio by Garth Brooks to record some songs with his daughter.

"We didn't realize until we got to Nashville what had happened when some people started digging out the accomplishments and the charts and the hit records that we had," Wood says.

"We just went to work everyday. People ask us why didn't we have any more pictures, and I said we weren't thinking about bringing a camera. We were lucky to come to work."

For all their success, The Memphis Boys remain relatively unknown. General listeners might be surprised to learn that their favorite pop, rock, country or soul records were all recorded by the same group. While other backing groups like New Orleans' The Meters, Motown's Funk Brothers, and Memphis' Booker T. & the MGs and Hi Rhythm Section have long gotten their due, The Memphis Boys' legacy has lived largely in the shadows until lately.

In 2007, however, The Memphis Boys were part of the inaugural class of the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville. And in 2010, the University Press of Mississippi published Roben Jones' history of the band and the studio, "Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios." A documentary on the band also is in the works.

Now, in addition to Wood's book, to be published in October by Dunham Books, the group is being honored by Graceland for their role in making Elvis' last No. 1 hit, "Suspicious Minds." At 5 p.m. Monday, the Memphis Music Foundation will present the group with their own brass note on the Beale Street Walk of Fame.

Then on Tuesday, the surviving members of the group, including Wood, Emmons, Chrisman and Young, will reunite for a concert at the Elvis Week Main Stage at Graceland. They will be playing hits from throughout their entire career, joined by vocalists Andy Childs, Terry Mike Jeffrey, The Holladay Sisters, Drea Rhenee and Scat Springs.

"The Memphis Boys haven't gotten their due, primarily because they didn't have a PR person," says Memphis music industry leader Marty Lacker, onetime studio manager of American Sound Studios who has made it his mission in recent years to get the band the credit he believes they deserve.

The Memphis Boys Events

Bobby Wood will sign copies of his book, “Walking Among the Giants: From Elvis to Garth: The Bobby Wood Story,” from 1-3 p.m. Monday at Graceland Plaza. The event is free.

A Brass Note Reception for the band, also free, will be held at 5 p.m. Monday at Alfred’s, 197 Beale St.

And at 7 p.m. Tuesday, a Memphis Boys Salute will be held on the Elvis Week Main Stage, Graceland. Tickets: $30, available at Graceland Guest Services and at the door 30 minutes prior to the start, pending availability.