Barry Beckett’s musical beginnings were inauspicious enough, accompanying would-be terpsichoreans at dance instruction. Birmingham, Alabama wasn’t exactly the musical hub of the world, however, and he high-tailed it to Muscle Shoals.
Session work soon followed at Fame Recording Studio where James & Bobby Purify were laying down tracks for a new album. So impressed were the powers that be that Beckett found himself a full-time gig in Muscle Shoals, where he would help co-found Muscle Shoals Sound and work with a litany of artists, including Mel & Tim, Bob Seger, and Paul Simon . He can be heard on “Kodachrome” and later produced Still Crazy After All These Years.
His early credits include “I’ll Take You There” by The Staples Singers and Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman”. Beckett went on to produce Mary MacGregor’s #1 hit “Torn Between Two Lovers”. He was a major contributor on several of Bob Seger’s albums, including Against the Wind, Beautiful Loser, Night Moves, and Stranger in Town.
In the mid-’80s, he made the great egress to Nashville, Tennessee, where he would become one of the top producers in the industry. A double threat who contributed his musicianship to many of the albums he produced, Beckett multi-tasked on Kenny Chesney’s All I Need To Know, Bob Dylan’s Dylan and Slow Train Coming, and Etta James’ Gold.
Having suffered from a long-term illness, he passed away in June 2009 at the age of 66.
Here he is on the piano for a performance of “Please” by Ronee Blakely…