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Muscle Shoals Swamper reflects on Jimmy Johnson's passing

Jimmy Johnson left a huge impact and changed the music industry.

Posted: Sep 6, 2019 5:41 PM
Updated: Sep 6, 2019 6:06 PM

Muscle Shoals has lost a Swamper. Jimmy Johnson passed away on Thursday at the age of 76.

"Jimmy was more than a brother. He was really the heart of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios," said fellow Swamper, David Hood.

In the 60s, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett and Roger Hawkins were all musicians at FAME Studios and left to form their own studio, Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.

Hood reflected on his 60-year friendship and partnership with Jimmy Johnson in the studio.

"It's, well, everything in here I see Jimmy Johnson," said Hood on Friday.

While at FAME, Johnson worked with Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin. Johnson played guitar on most of their hits, but could play a number of instruments. When the Swampers started, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Rolling Stones came to record at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. Johnson engineered, produced and played on hundreds of hits.

"We made an agreement in this room among ourselves that nothing, wives, girlfriends, vacations, nothing was going to stand in the way of us and Muscle Shoals Sound, and we stuck to that," said Hood.

Not only did they create a unique sound, but they broke barriers.

"We would go over to Jimmy's house after a recording session and his mother, Hazel, would cook for us southern style food. You'd see a New York Jewish record producer next to a black rhythm and blues singer, next to a redneck guitar player all eating together and it really was something. We were a family," said Hood.

Throughout Johnson's career, he always rallied for the Shoals music industry.

"He got the courage to get up and stand up in front of people and talk about what we were trying to do, so he was a real ambassador for Muscle Shoals Sound," said Hood.

As Hood looked on at pictures from their sessions, he said losing Johnson was one of the hardest days of his life, but the impact he made will live on for generations and so will their music.

Funeral arrangements for Jimmy Johnson have not been announced yet.

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