Muscle Shoals is one of four municipalities known as the Quad Cities, the others being Florence, Sheffield and Tuscumbia. All of them are situated on the banks of the Tennessee River in the northwest corner of Alabama. Some 65.000 people live in the four cities, an area in which the primary industries include textiles and aluminum production.
Muscle Shoals is known for recording many hit songs in the late 1950's and throughout the 1960's at Rick Hall's FAME Studios at 603 East Avalon. Artists who recorded there included Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and Joe Tex. The session musicians who worked at the studio became known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. In 1969, members of the rhythm section left to found a rival studio, the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio at 3614 Jackson Highway. It developed work for Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones and countless others.
What is most unusual, musically speaking, is the cross-pollination of musical styles that originated in Muscle Shoals. Black artists from the area such as Arthur Alexander and James Carr utilized white country music styles in their work and white artists from the Shoals frequently borrowed from the blues/gospel influences of their black contemporaries, creating a distinct sound, which is often referred to as the Muscle Shoals Sound.
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Fuqua, C.S. Music Fell on Alabama: The Muscle Shoals Sound That Shook the World. Montgomery, AL: NewSouth Books, 2006. Read more
Fuqua, C.S. Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2011. Read more
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Hoskyns, Barney. Say It One Time for the Broken Hearted. London: Fontana Books, 1987.
Danchin, Sebastian. Muscle Shoals, capitale secrète du rock et de la soul.. Paris: Les Cahiers du Rock, 2007.