born on 4/2/1943 in Birmingham, AL, United States
died on 10/6/2009 in Hendersonville, TN, United States
Barry Edward Beckett (February 4, 1943 – June 10, 2009) 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".
Among the artists Beckett recorded with were Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Duane Allman, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dire Straits, The Proclaimers and Phish. He was also briefly a member of the band Traffic.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, 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".
In 1973 Beckett took to the road in the expanded lineup of Traffic; recordings from this tour were released on the band's live album On the Road.
Beckett was co-producing with Jerry Wexler when, in 1979, Bob Dylan called on Wexler to produce the sessions for the album Slow Train Coming. 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.
He also played on Paul Simon's albums There Goes Rhymin' Simon and Still Crazy After All These Years, which reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 pop chart.
Beckett died from complications of a stroke at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, aged 66.
Awards and honors
- In 1995, Beckett was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame as a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
- Gray, Michael (2008). "Barry Beckett". The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. New York & London: Continuum International Publishing Group.
- Everett, Todd (1998). "Barry Beckett". In Kingsbury, Paul. The Encyclopedia of Country Music. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 31–32.
- Weber, Bruce (June 16, 2009). "Barry Beckett, Muscle Shoals Musician, Dies at 66". The New York Times. p. A19.
- "Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section 1995 Induction (Lifework Award)". Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
- Barry Beckett at AllMusic
- Barry Beckett discography at Discogs
- Barry Beckett on IMDb
- Barry Beckett at Find a Grave