Archive for the 'Music Fell on Alabama' Category

Jerry Wexler, Godfather of Muscle Shoals Music, Remembered

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

C. S. Fuqua, author of Music Fell on Alabama, offered this remembrance of record producer Jerry Wexler:

Jerry Wexler is known to many around the Shoals as the “Godfather of Muscle Shoals Music.” Wexler died on August 15, 2008, at age 91 of complications related to congestive heart failure. Had it not been for Wexler, Muscle Shoals may never have become known as the “Hit Capital of the World.”

In 1966, Rick Hall of Fame Studios alerted Wexler to the talent available in the Shoals by pitching to Wexler the song “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Impressed by the ability and special sound of Shoals’ musicians, Wexler then took Wilson Pickett to Fame to record Pickett’s first Top 10 hit, “Land of 1,000 Dances,” but, by the time Wexler took Aretha Franklin to record at Fame, friction had developed between Wexler and Hall that threatened to destroy the relationship. An altercation between Franklin’s husband and Hall caused Franklin to return to New York before completing scheduled recording, but Wexler still wanted to use the Fame rhythm section musicians for Franklin, so he asked Hall if he could take them to New York to record the King Curtis album King Curtis Plays the Great Memphis Hits. Hoping to salvage the business relationship with Wexler, Hall sent the section to New York, and Wexler promptly used the section with Franklin. Wexler later guaranteed enough work for the rhythm section musicians to enable them to leave Hall’s Fame and open the Muscle Shoals Sound studio.

Although Wexler eventually moved most of his recording business to Miami, Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound had by then established solid reputations that would continue to draw major acts to the Shoals to record for years to come. You can find more on Wexler and his connection to the Shoals in Music Fell on Alabama and in the Times-Daily extended obituary “Magic Man”.

Music Fell on Alabama is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in Consideration for National Heritage Designation

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Music Fell on Alabama author C. S. Fuqua comments on the recent move to name Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a national heritage area:

In its heyday of the 1960s and ’70s, the area became known as the Hit Capital of the World, thanks to a few renegade recording studios that enhanced the area’s already rich musical heritage by bringing in some of the biggest names in music to record, names such as the Rolling Stones, Linda Ronstadt, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker and many more. Because of that rich heritage, the Muscle Shoals region in north Alabama may soon be designated as a national heritage area under legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives. While the majority of the Alabama delegation realized the benefit of the designation, Alabama Republican Representatives Terry Everett and Robert Aderholt voted against it.

If the legislation clears the Senate and is signed into law, the Shoals area would receive as much as $1 million a year in matching money to local groups for up to 15 years to preserve and promote the region, to maintain the area’s character, and to draw visitors to the area. The Shoals, whose notoriety includes being home to Helen Keller, W. C. Handy, Sam Phillips, the Alabama Renaissance Fair, and recording studios such as Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound, could certainly benefit from increased promotion.

Since the first publication of Music Fell on Alabama, the Muscle Shoals music industry’s global influence has been detailed in various media, including television, print, and Internet, but the Shoals industry has been in decline over the last two decades and could eventually wither away completely as a result of technological advances and the ever-changing way people produce and get their music. The fame of its past won’t keep an industry alive or tourists flowing to a specific area forever.

Although the music industry is still present in the Shoals, it is certainly not as influential as it was in the ’60s and ’70s. In fact, most Shoals studios, including the Muscle Shoals Sound in 2006, have closed due to declining business. It would be a disgraceful loss to allow the national and international recognition of the Shoals region’s rich musical heritage to fade away as the industry itself fades. Designation as a national heritage area and the money provided for preservation and promotion could at least entice more tourists to the area to experience and learn more about the rich musical heritage and contributions that Alabama has made and continues to make even in times when the recording industry itself is going through major changes.

C. S. Fuqua’s history of the Muscle Shoals music industry, Music Fell on Alabama, is available at your favorite bookstore or directly from NewSouth Books. Search the full text of Music Fell on Alabama from Google Books.

Music Fell on Alabama Featured in Alabama Musician's Connection

Friday, May 4th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

C. S. Fuqua‘s definitive book on the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, music scene, Music Fell on Alabama, is featured in May’s Alabama Musician’s Connection newsletter. NewSouth Books’ reissue of this important title contains a new epilogue by the author, offering updates on Muscle Shoals’ Fame Recording Studio and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, as well as a “Star’s Who’ve Risen” guide to the modern music legends of Alabama.

In an interview with Alabama Musician’s Connection, Fuqua–a well-published fiction and non-fiction author, talks about his love of reading and writing. I had always been an avid reader and became even more voracious afterward, said Fuqua. I found literature the best avenue to escape into worlds familiar and frightening, as well as strange and wonderful. Fuqua also talks about how he learned to craft wooden flutes, which he now sells to customers worldwide.

Learn more about the Alabama Musician’s Connection, and read the full interview with C. S. Fuqua, at their website. C. S. Fuqua’s website is at

Music Fell on Alabama is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online bookseller