February 4, 1943|
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
|Died||June 10, 2009
Hendersonville, Tennessee, U.S.
Barry Edward Beckett (February 4, 1943 in Birmingham, Alabama – June 10, 2009 in Hendersonville, Tennessee) was a keyboardist, session musician, record producer, and studio founder. He is best known for his work with David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, and Roger Hawkins, his bandmates in the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, which performed with numerous notable artists on their studio albums and helped define the "Muscle Shoals Sound".
Beckett rose to prominence as a member of the rhythm section at the Muscle Shoals studio in Sheffield, Alabama, of which he was one of the founders in 1969. As a founding member of the "Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section" (also known as 'The Swampers'), he helped define what became known as the "Muscle Shoals Sound". In addition, the studio produced such chart-making hits as "Torn Between Two Lovers" by Mary MacGregor and the Sanford-Townsend Band's "Smoke from a Distant Fire".
Beckett was co-producing with Jerry Wexler when, in 1979, Bob Dylan called on Wexler to produce the Slow Train Coming sessions. Beckett not only co-produced the album but played piano and organ throughout. (He did not go on the road as a gospel tours musician behind Dylan, but he was back in the studio with him in February 1980 to co-produce, again with Wexler, the album Saved, on which he was replaced on keyboards by Spooner Oldham and Terry Young after the session of February 12, 1980 and so plays only on the album’s title track, ‘Solid Rock’, ‘What Can I Do For You?’ and ‘Satisfied Mind’. On the album liner notes Beckett is billed as co-producer and as ‘special guest artist’. Beckett moved to Nashville in 1982 to become A & R country music director for Warner Bros. Records and co-produced Williams, Jr.'s records with Jim Ed Norman. Beckett produced records independently after leaving Warner Bros. Records.
Beckett died of natural causes at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee in 2009, aged 66.
- Allmusic biography
- Everett, Todd (1998). "Barry Beckett". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 31–32.
- Alabama Music Hall of Fame biography
- Discogs.com listing
- 1999 interview with Barry Beckett
- Gray, Michael (2008) "Barry Beckett" in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, New York & London: Continuum
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