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René Hall

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René Hall
Background information
Birth nameRené Joseph Hall
Born(1912-09-26)September 26, 1912
Morgan City, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedFebruary 11, 1988(1988-02-11) (aged 75)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresSoul, rock
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger
Formerly of

René Joseph Hall (September 26, 1912 – February 11, 1988)[1] was an American guitarist and arranger. He was among the most important behind-the-scenes figures in early rock and roll, but his career spanned the period from the late 1920s to the late 1980s, and encompassed multiple musical styles.


Born in Morgan City, Louisiana, René Hall first recorded in 1933 as a banjo player with Joseph Robichaux in New Orleans. He then worked around the country as a member of the Ernie Fields Orchestra, with whom he made his earliest recordings. In the group he was known by the nickname Lightnin' .[2] Later he joined 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 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 pioneered the usage of a Danelectro 6-string bass guitar as a supplement to standup bass on recording sessions with Ritchie Valens and others. This approach was widely imitated by arrangers all over the world.[3]

Hall was a virtual one-man dynasty on the West Coast from the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, organizing such studio concoctions as B. Bumble & The Stingers hit "Nut Rocker", surf-rock group The Marketts ("Surfer's Stomp"), and The Routers of "Let's Go" fame. All featured Hall, Palmer and Johnson, but were then promoted by young white groups who performed the songs on tour. He gave his former employer Ernie Fields an unlikely rock hit with a version of the big band standard, "In The Mood", which reached #4 in Billboard during 1959. When Hall, Palmer, and Johnson did not want to issue it under their own names and tour behind it, they gave it to Fields, who then did join them in the studio for a follow-up hit.

Hall arranged Ike & Tina Turner's 1963 album Don't Play Me Cheap. He also 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 prepared arrangements for many successful artists including The Impressions and Marvin Gaye. He also played guitar on Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and did a lot of work for Bobby Womack.

René Hall died of heart disease in Los Angeles, California at the age of 75.[4]



  • 1952: René Hall – "Let's Turn The Lights Down Low" / "Must I" (RCA Victor 4881)
  • 1957: René Hall's Orchestra Featuring Willie Joe / René Hall's Orchestra – "Twitchy" / "Flippin'" (Specialty 618)
  • 1958: René Hall's Orchestra – "Saints Go Marchin' In" / "Thunderbird" (Specialty 629)
  • 1958: René Hall's Orchestra – "Frankie And Johnny" / "Cleo" (Specialty 641)
  • 1959: René Hall – "Smitty's Toy Piano" / "South Gate" (Arvee A 580)
  • 1959: René Hall And His Guitars – "Moritat" / "Adalene" (Rendezvous No. 107)
  • 1959: The Skunks And Rene Hall / Rene Hall – "Smitty's Xmas Toy Piano" / "Smitty's Toy Piano" (Arvee A 585)
  • 1960: René Hall Orchestra – "La Cubalibra" / "The Untouchables" (Del-Fi 4135)
  • René Hall Orchestra – "Night Fright" / "Turf" (Castil 101)

Work with other artists[edit]

Artist Date Song title Peak chart


Hall's role
The Dominoes[5] 1951 Sixty Minute Man #17, #1 R&B chart Guitar, arranger
Don and Dewey[6] 1957 Sweet Talk
"Farmer John" (take 1)
Just a Little Lovin'
The Letter
Leader, guitar
Larry Williams[7] 1957 Short Fat Fannie #5 Guitar
Larry Williams[7] 1957 Bony Moronie #14 Guitar
Sam Cooke[8] 1957 You Send Me
b-side, Summertime
Conductor, arranger
Larry Williams[7] 1957,
Iko Iko
Lawdy Miss Clawdy,
Slow Down,
Dizzy Miss Lizzy,
Bad Boy
Ritchie Valens 1958 La Bamba #22 Danelectro, arranger
Ritchie Valens 1958 Donna #2 Lead guitar & solo, arranger
Ritchie Valens 1958 Come On, Let's Go Guitar, arranger
Chan Romero[9] 1959 Hippy Hippy Shake Danelectro bass guitar
Sam Cooke[8] 1957 (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons #17 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1957 Desire Me #47 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1957 You Were Made For Me #39 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1958 "Win You Love For Me" #22 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1959 Only Sixteen #28 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1959 Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha #31 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1959 God Bless The Child Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1959 Let's Call The Whole Thing Off Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1959 Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1961 Cupid #17 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1962 Twistin' the Night Away #9 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1962 Bring It On Home To Me #13 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1962 Having A Party #17 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1962 "Nothing Can Change This Love" #12 Arranger, guitar
The Valentinos[10] 1962 ‘'Darling, Come Back Home
I'll Make It Alright
I've Got a Girl
"Session leader"
Sam Cooke 1963 Another Saturday Night #10 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1963 Little Red Rooster #11 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1964 Tennessee Waltz #35 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1964 A Change Is Gonna Come Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1964 That's Where It's At #93 Arranger, guitar
Sam Cooke 1964 Shake Arranger, guitar
Marvin Gaye 1973 Let's Get It On #1 Arranger and conductor
Marvin Gaye 1973 Please Stay (Once You Go Away) Arranger and conductor
Marvin Gaye 1973 If I Should Die Tonight Arranger and conductor
Marvin Gaye 1973 Keep Gettin' It On Arranger and conductor



  1. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 170. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  2. ^ Rye, Howard (2001). "Hall, René". In Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 978-1-56159-239-5.
  3. ^ "Who Played On 'La Bamba'?". Lost & Sound. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  4. ^ Talevski, Nick (2010). Rock Obituaries - Knocking On Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. p. 238. ASIN B003FV7G3A.
  5. ^ Talevski, Nick, Knocking On Heaven's Door, Omnibus Press,London. 2006
  6. ^ Don & Dewey: Jungle Hop, Legends of Speciality Records, Speciality Records 1991 liner notes
  7. ^ a b c Larry Williams: Bad Boy The Legends of Specialty Records, Speciality Records 1989, liner notes
  8. ^ a b "Soulful Detroit: SAM COOKE SESSION DATES". soulfuldetroit.com.
  9. ^ Ritchie Valens , "Ritchie Valens in Come On. Let's Go" Del-Fi Records, liner notes
  10. ^ The Valentinos, Lookin' For a Love; The complete SAR recordings, CD, ABKCO Music & Records, Inc., 2014, liner notes

External links[edit]