Nashville lost a prominent member of its musical community yesterday. Barry Beckett was 66, and he died at his Hendersonville home. From the CMT website:
Barry Beckett, a keyboardist and producer who worked with artists ranging from Dire Straits to Kenny Chesney, died overnight Wednesday (June 10) at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn., following a lengthy illness. He was 66. Beckett was a keyboardist with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, the legendary session ensemble at Rick Hall's Fame Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Fondly referred to as the Swampers, the band was immortalized in the lyrics of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama."Beckett's playing is featured on hits such as the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There" and Paul Simon's "Kodachrome." His production credits include Alabama's "If I Had You" (a No. 1 hit in 1989) and Kenny Chesney's "When I Close My Eyes" (which spent two weeks at No. 2 in 1996). He also supervised the sessions for "There's a Tear in My Beer," which featured Hank Williams Jr. adding his late father's vocal from a demo recording. A Top 10 hit in 1989, the track won a Grammy for country vocal collaboration and a CMA Award for vocal event of the year. Beckett produced sessions for Neal McCoy, Lorrie Morgan, T. Graham Brown, Confederate Railroad and Delbert McClinton. However, he is most famous for his production work on Dire Strait'sCommuniqué, Bob Seger's Night Moves and Stranger in Town and Bob Dylan's Dylan, Slow Train Coming and Saved.
And from Wikipedia:
Barry Beckett (February 4, 1943 - June 10, 2009) born in Birmingham, Alabama was a keyboardist who worked as a session musician with several notable artists on their studio albums. He was also a record producer, most notably of albums by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Dire Straits, Joe Cocker, John Prine, McGuinn - Hillman, The Staple Singers, Phoebe Snow, Etta James, T. Graham Brown, Lorrie Morgan, Eddy Raven, Delbert McClinton, Frankie Miller, Jerry Jeff Walker, Alabama, Hank Williams, Jr., Neal McCoy, Confederate Railroad, Phish, Tammy Graham, Sonia Dada, Ilse DeLange and others.
Along with the rest of "the Swampers", took to the road in 1973 in the expanded lineup of Traffic...the results of which can be heard on Traffic's live album On The Road.
He was involved in the "Muscle Shoals Sound", being a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and in 1969, one of the founders of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. The Sound studio produced such hits as "Torn Between Two Lovers" (Mary MacGregor) and "Smoke from a Distant Fire" Sanford-Townsend Band). Beckett moved to Nashville in 1982 to become A & R country music director for Warner Brothers Records and co-produced Williams, Jr.'s records with Jim Ed Norman. Beckett produced records independently after leaving Warner Brothers.
Barry Beckett was also the guy who took a chance on a new kid in town nearly 20 years ago - my husband. Jim was second engineer on sessions ranging from Hank Williams, Jr., to Lynyrd Skynyrd, to Bob Seger. He also worked on a Tammy Wynette duets album, which included Elton John and Sting.
Jim and I didn't see each other a whole lot during those years - he was working pretty much all the time. He says it was like "boot camp", but that what he learned on those sessions was absolutely invaluable, and he met many of the people he still works with today.
Beckett was part of a Nashville that seems to be disappearing. Music Row is a shadow of what it once was. But the music he created will always be around.
Percy Sledge - When a Man Loves a Woman (w/Barry Beckett on keyboards)