Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

After playing on hits for the likes of Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, four session musicians start Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where they record The Staple Singers, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart and The Rolling Stones.

The original building at 3614 Jackson Highway is bought by Noel Webster in 1999, who along with the purchase gets the name “Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.” The place is abandoned when he buys it, but he eventually restores some functionality – enough for The Black Keys to record their Brothers album there in 2009.


Christmas and The Beads of Sweat

Laura Nyro releases her fourth on November 25, 1970. It’s the last of her trilogy of albums that includes “Eli and The Thirteenth Confession” and “New York Tendaberry.” The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section accompanies with David Hood doing the bass work on the entire album and Duane Allman is featured on “Beads of Sweat.” If you’re a folkie, this album is for you.

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs …

Born on November 9, 1970, it’s regarded by many to be Eric Clapton’s best work. Slowhand is joined by  Bobby Whitlock on keyboards and vocals, Jim Gordon on drums, Carl Radle on bass, with special guest performer Duane Allman on lead and slide guitar on 11 of the 14 songs. (Still, after all these years, Allman’s “bird chirps” at the end of Layla still make me well up.)


Veteran producer Tom Dowd was working on the Allman Brothers second album, Idlewild South, when the studio received a phone call that Clapton was bringing the Dominos to Miami to record. Upon hearing this, guitarist Duane Allman indicated that he would love to drop by and watch, if Clapton approved.

Allman later called Dowd to let him know that his band was in town to perform a benefit concert on 26 August. When Clapton learned of this he insisted on going to see their show, saying, “You mean that guy who plays on the back of (Wilson Pickett’s) ‘Hey Jude’? … I want to
see him play … let’s go.” Stage hands seated Clapton and company in front of the barricade separating the audience from the stage. When they sat down, Allman was playing a solo. As he turned around and opened his eyes and saw Clapton, he froze. Dickey Betts, the Allmans’ other lead guitarist, picked up where Allman left off, but when he followed Allman’s eyes to Clapton, he had to turn his back to keep from freezing, himself.

After the show, Allman asked Clapton he could come by the studio to watch some recording sessions, but Eric invited him there directly, saying: “Bring your guitar; you got to play!” Jamming together overnight, the two bonded; Dowd reported that they “were trading licks, they were swapping guitars, they were talking shop and information and having a ball – no holds barred, just admiration for each other’s technique and facility.”

Clapton wrote later in his autobiography that he and Allman were inseparable during the sessions in Florida; he talked about Allman as the “musical brother I’d never had but wished I did.

“Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” is #117 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.