René Hall

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René Hall (26 September 1912 ‒ 11 February 1988) was an African-American musician, performer, and music arranger whose guitar and arrangements can be heard on hundreds of enduring rock and roll and R&B recordings released by many of America's most notable labels including Aladdin, Decca, Motown, and RCA Records. His best-known recording was the instrumental "Twitchy", which featured a single-string guitar (Unitar) lead played by Willie Joe Duncan, the instrument's inventor,

Born in Morgan City, Louisiana, Hall first recorded in 1933 as a banjo player with Joseph Robichaux in New Orleans, Louisiana. He then worked around the country as a member of the Ernie Fields Orchestra before joining Earl Hines as musical arranger. During the 1940s, he built up a considerable reputation as a session musician in New York City. In the late 1940s, he formed his own sextet which recorded for various labels including Jubilee, Decca, and RCA. He also worked as a talent scout for King Records, discovering such acts as Billy Ward and the Dominoes.

In the mid-1950s, Hall moved to Los Angeles, California, and began doing session work with famed saxophone player, Plas Johnson, and drummer, Earl Palmer. The trio recorded for many of the emerging rock and roll and R&B artists on such labels as Aladdin, Rendezvous, and Specialty Records. In 1958, he recorded the electric bass track using a Danelectro 6-string bass guitar on the Ritchie Valens smash hit, "La Bamba", with Buddy Clarke on the upright acoustic bass.[1]

Throughout his career, Hall was the featured guitarist on such tracks as Number 000 (Otis Blackwell), "That's It" (Babette Bain), "Cincinnati Fireball" (Johnny Burnette), "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (Ernie Fields), "In The Mood" (Ernie Fields), "Hippy Hippy Shake" (Chan Romero), and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (Larry Williams). He also released numerous recordings as both René Hall and the René Hall Orchestra.

Hall arranged some of Sam Cooke's best-known recordings including the 1964 song, "A Change Is Gonna Come", in which Hall devised a dramatic arrangement with a symphonic overture for strings, kettledrum, and French horn. He also prepared arrangements for many of Motown's most successful artists including The Impressions and Marvin Gaye. Rene also was an advocate for up and coming new groups. He came into Bill Withers' Tiki Studios in San Jose and worked out the arrangements for two of San Francisco's own Cordial Band. He arranged 'Wave' and 'A Special Love' written by Raymond Coats and Danny Dinio.

He also plays lead guitar on Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and did a lot of work for Bobby Womack.

René Hall died on February 11, 1988, in Los Angeles, California. He was 75.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ "The musicians who played on Ritchie Valens', "La Bamba"". wordpress.com. Retrieved May 13, 2012.