Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Chips Moman RIP

Chips Moman, a true giant among record producers and a pioneer and one of the most influential figures in the field of southern soul, has died aged 79.  He had a unique ability to create hit records in soul, pop and country and is credited with having 120 hits while at American Studios in Memphis.
A talented guitarist, he went to Memphis aged 14 and was discovered by Sun rockabilly artist Warren Smith. This led to him touring with Johnny Burnette and Gene Vincent and he worked as a session guitarist at Gold Star in Los Angeles. Moving back to Memphis he became a recording engineer at Satellite, the forerunner of Stax, and produced the label's first hit, Gee Whiz by Carla Thomas. He also produced Last Night by the Mar-Keys and William Bell's You Don't Miss \your Water, but not Green Onions, although he claimed that the MGs were named after his car, rather than standing for Memphis Group.
He fell out with Stax over money, (he was a serious gambler, hence his nickname Chips), although he
later received a $3000 settlement which enabled him to set up American. One of his earliest successes there was It's Wonderful To Be In Love by the Ovations, and a collaboration with Dan Penn resulted in more great Goldwax records, including James Carr's The Dark End Of The Street, which they co-wrote. Penn and Moman also wrote  Do Right Woman, Do Right Man for Aretha Franklin. A big pop hit from this period was Keep On Dancin' by The Gentrys and even more success came with the Box Tops and Alex Chilton.      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC3AXQ8dPJM
By this time Moman's house band, the Memphis Boys (also known as the 827 Thomas Street Band, after American's street address), drummer Gene Chrisman, bassists Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech, guitarist Reggie Young and keyboardists Bobby Emmons and Bobby Wood, had taken shape. Bobby Womack also played on some early records there. Chips was about to go from strength to strength as major labels chose his studio for their recordings, including Atlantic, RCA, Uni, Warner Brothers, Decca, Scepter and MGM.
Among the artists who found success there were King Curtis, Dionne Warwick, Sandy Posey (a former secretary at American), Lulu, Dusty Springfield, Joe Tex, Bobby Womack, Merrilee Rush, Neil Diamond, Herbie Mann, the Sweet Inspirations and Wilson Pickett, but perhaps the biggest success was the resurrection of Elvis's career with Elvis in Memphis and songs like Suspicious Minds, In The Ghetto and Kentucky Rain.
By the beginning of the seventies the music scene in Memphis was in decline and Chips moved to Atlanta, and then to Nashville, where he concentrated on country music. He had success with B J Thomas and co-wrote Luckenbach, Texas, a hit for Waylon Jennings. He also produced and played on albums by Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson , Jerry Lee Lewis, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins. In 1985 he returned to Memphis in an attempt to revive the local music scene, but it was unsuccessful and he moved back to his native LaGrange, Georgia, where he died. RIP to one of the greats.
A final word too, for Bobby Curtola, a Canadian who had considerable success in his home country
but was less well known elsewhere. He had five singles released in the UK, beginning with Don't You Sweetheart Me in 1961, and his biggest hit was Fortune Teller the following year, although his advertising jingle Things Go Better With Coca Cola is probably his best known composition.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OVGx6HuSh0


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