Published Jun 16, 2009One of the archetypes of soul keyboards has passed. Barry Beckett, a key part of the Muscle Shoals sound, has died at the age of 66. He had recently suffered a stroke, and is reported to have died of complications.
Beckett was part of a studio band called the Swampers based at Fame Studio in Alabama during the mid-'60s. More commonly, this band's groove was known as the Muscle Shoals Sound. Beckett's keyboard work is immortalized in Aretha Franklin's best work, as well as milestones by Wilson Pickett and the Staple Singers.
Beckett co-founded Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969 where he became more involved in writing and production. This studio was a major destination in the early '70s, and Beckett sessioned with the likes of Paul Simon, Traffic and Bobby Womack.
As a producer, he scored a No. 1 hit with one of the sappiest songs of the decade "Torn Between Two Lovers" by Mary Mcgregor. Later in the '70s, he produced Bob Dylan's Dylan, Slow Train Coming and Saved. During the early '80s, he also produced Dire Straits' Communiqué.
After leaving Muscle Shoals in 1985, he worked in A & R for Warner Brothers' country division, though he left the company soon afterwards to move back into production. He promptly scored hits with Hank Williams Jr., including "There's a Tear in My Beer".
He is survived by wife Diane and sons Matthew and Mark.