(L-R) David Hood, Jimmy Johnson and Junior Lowe
Photo by House Of Fame LLC/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Jimmy Johnson, Muscle Shoals Guitarist, Dies At 76
Acclaimed Muscle Shoals guitarist Jimmy Johnson, whose remarkable tall of recording credits include Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Wilson Pickett, Leon Russell, and the Rolling Stones, has died. He was 76 years old.
Growing up in the South in the 1950s as a fan of Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed and Bo Diddley, Johnson established himself by playing gutiar in the house band for FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. known as The Swampers. His recordings helped shapte the sound of rock, soul, R&B blues in the late '60s, playing on countless sessions and co-founded of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
While the list of songs Johnson graced with his guitar is astonishing, he's perhaps best known for his work with Franklin, backing up the Queen of Soul on "Respect." "Chain of Fools," "Think," " I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)," and "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," among others.
He went on to record with a staggering list of artists, including Bob Dylan, Cher, Bobby Womack, the Staples Singers, Levon Helm, Delbert McClinton, Rod Stewart, Percy Sledge and Lynyrd Skynyrd, who immortalized Johnson's band in their song "Sweet Home Alabama," devoting the entire third verse to the group's groove with the lyrics, "Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers/And they've been known to pick a song or two/Lord they get me off so much/They pick me up when I'm feeling blue, now how bout you?"
In 2013, Johnson was featured prominently in the documentary film, Muscle Shoals, which told the story behind FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Later in his career, he remained active in Muscle Shoals, producing and engineering records at his own Swamper Sound Studio and served on the board for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
GRAMMY winner Jason Isbell, who came up in the Muscle Shoals scene, tweeted, "The mighty Jimmy Johnson has passed. A lot of my favorite music wouldn’t exist without him, and he was always kind to me. Hard times for the folks back home."
The mighty Jimmy Johnson has passed. A lot of my favorite music wouldn’t exist without him, and he was always kind to me. Hard times for the folks back home. https://t.co/8sBEyL4UWo
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) September 5, 2019
Johnson’s son Jay announced his father's passing on Facebook, writing, “He is gone. Playing music with the angels now.”