Co-founder of The Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and session drummer for FAME studio born in Mishawaka, Indiana. He was the backbone of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, which made itself indispensable in as a hit-making juggernaut in the ’70s and ’80s.
Hawkins was playing the club scene in Alabama and Tennessee until he was snapped up by FAME studio, where he backed such notables as Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. He and Barry Beckett, along with David Hood and Jimmy Johnson, founded Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and Rhythm Section in 1969, and the stars literally fell on Alabama for about two decades.
He toured with Traffic in the ’70s, Eric Clapton in the ’80s and he and Barry Beckett produced Mel & Tim’s “Starting All over Again”. Throughout the course of his career he performed with hundreds, if not thousands, of artists such as Alabama, Duane Allman, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Paul Anka, Patti Austin, Joan Baez, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Bonnie Bramlett, James Brown, Solomon Burke, J.J. Cale, Canned Heat, Jim Capaldi, Kim Carnes, Pete Carr, Clarence Carter, Jimmy Cliff, Joe Cocker, Steve Cropper, Dawn, Willy DeVille, Dr. Hook, The Dramatics, The Emotions, Donna Fargo, Eddie Floyd, Connie Francis, Glenn Frey, Art Garfunkel, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Isaac Hayes, Etta James, Lulu, Herbie Mann, Ronnie Milsap, Dorothy Moore, Willie Nelson, Mickey Newbury, Laura Nyro, The Oak Ridge Boys, Tony Orlando, Stella Parton, Eddie Rabbitt, Johnny Rivers, Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joe Royal, Leon Russell, Sam & Dave, John Simon, Percy Sledge, The Staple Singers, Cat Stevens, Billy Swan, Johnnie Taylor, Joe Tex, Irma Thomas and Ruby Winters among many others.
The albums he featured on are far too many to mention but a few of them include Beach House on the Moon by Jimmy Buffett, Double Barrel by The Burrito Brothers, 3614 Jackson Highway by Cher, Crossroads by Eric Clapton, Boomer’s Story by Ry Cooder, Where the Hits Are by Connie Francis, No Fun Aloud by Glenn Frey, Breakaway by Art Garfunkel, Phases and Stages by Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt by Linda Ronstadt, My Time by Boz Scaggs, Back in ’72 by Bob Seger, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon by Paul Simon, Best Of… by Candi Staton, Atlantic Crossing by Rod Stewart and Communication by Bobby Womack.
In the ’90s, they sold Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, although Hawkins continued to manage it and produce records. In 1995, he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
He died of an extended illness in Sheffield, Alabama in May 2021 when he was 75 years old.
Bob Seger recordings
Feel Like a Number
Capitol P-A-5077 (S97843A) (US 45)
Capitol P-4836 (S96012) (US promo 45)
Here he is talking about life at Muscle Shoals studios…