Dewey Lindon “Spooner” Oldham (born June 14, 1943) is an American songwriter and session musician. An organist, he recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and at FAME Studios on such hit R&B songs as “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge, “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett and “I Never Loved a Man” by Aretha Franklin.
As a songwriter, Spooner Oldham teamed with Dan Penn to write such hits as “Cry Like a Baby” (The Box Tops), “I’m Your Puppet” (James and Bobby Purify), “A Woman Left Lonely” and “It Tears Me Up” (Percy Sledge).
I’m your Puppet (here with Dan Penn):
Oldham was inducted into the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, here’s his acceptance speech:
From Wikipedia: The Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was formed in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in 1969 when musicians Barry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), Jimmy Johnson (guitar) and David Hood (bass) (called The Swampers) left FAME Studios to create their own studio. The Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section, as they became known, was the first rhythm section to own its own studio and, eventually, its own publishing and production companies. The distinctive accompaniment and arrangements have been heard on a tremendous number of legendary recordings, including those from Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and the Staple Singers amongst others.
“Spooner Oldham and Muscle Shoals” is a short, no budget, 4-part documentary I shot in celebration of Spooner’s induction into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame (created by Cory Pennington). The sound is a bit all over the place on the interviews, but it’s a facinating look into one of the most legendary studios.
Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was an influential American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player.
With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Cub Koda declared, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.” A number of songs written or popularized by Burnett—such as “Smokestack Lightnin’“, “Back Door Man“, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful“—have become blues and blues rock standards.
At 6 feet, 6 inches (198 cm) and close to 300 pounds (136 kg), he was an imposing presence with one of the loudest and most memorable voices of all the “classic” 1950s Chicago blues singers. This rough-edged, slightly fearsome musical style is often contrasted with the less crude but still powerful presentation of his contemporary and professional rival, Muddy Waters. Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), Little Walter Jacobs, and Muddy Waters are usually regarded in retrospect as the greatest blues artists who recorded for Chess in Chicago. Sam Phillips once remarked, “When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.‘” In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #51 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
John Adam Estes (January 25, 1899 – June 5, 1977), best known as Sleepy John Estes or Sleepy John, was a American blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist, born in Ripley, Lauderdale County, Tennessee.
Despite the fact that he performed for mixed black and white audiences in string band, jug band, and medicine show formats, his music retains a distinct ethnicity and has a particularly plaintive sound. Astonishingly, he recorded during six decades for Victor, Decca, Bluebird, Ora Nelle, Sun, Delmark, and others. Over the course of his career, his music remained simple yet powerful, and despite his sojourns to Memphis and Chicago he retained a traditional down-home sound. Some of his songs are deeply personal statements about his community and life, such as “Lawyer Clark” and “Floating Bridge.” Other compositions have universal appeal (“Drop Down Mama” and “Someday Baby”) and went on to become mainstays in the repertoires of countless musicians. One of the true masters of his idiom, he lived in poverty, yet was somehow capable of turning his experiences and the conditions of his life into compelling art. — Barry Lee Pearson
Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an African-American soul, R&B, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly, Mayfield is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music. He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums. Curtis Mayfield is a winner of both the Grammy Legend Award (in 1994) and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (in 1995), and was a double inductee into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted as a member of The Impressions into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and again in 1999 as a solo artist. He is also a two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee.
Awards and legacy
Mayfield has left a remarkable legacy for his introduction of social consciousness into R&B and for pioneering the funk style. Many of his recordings with the Impressions became anthems of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and his most famous album, Super Fly, is regarded as an all-time great that influenced many and truly invented a new style of modern black music.
Mayfield’s solo Super Fly is ranked #69 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The Impressions’ album/CD The Anthology 1961–1977 is ranked at #179 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of all time.
Along with his group The Impressions, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
In 1999, he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist making him one of the few artists to become double inductees.
Posthumously, in 2000, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
He was a winner of the prestigious Grammy Legend Award in 1994.
He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.
The Impressions’ 1965 hit song, “People Get Ready”, composed by Mayfield, has been chosen as one of the Top 10 Best Songs Of All Time by a panel of 20 top industry songwriters and producers, including Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Hal David, and others, as reported to Britain’s Mojo music magazine.
The Impressions hits, People Get Ready and For Your Precious Love are both ranked on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, as #24 and #327 respectively.