Jimmy Johnson, founded Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, dies

As a studio musician, recording engineer and record producer, Johnson played a role in iconic hits by Percy Sledge, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others.

SHARE Jimmy Johnson, founded Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, dies
This April 14, 2015 file photo shows Jimmy Johnson, sound engineer for the Percy Sledge’s hit “When a Man Loves a Woman,” outside his Tennessee River home in Sheffield, Alabama.

This April 14, 2015 file photo shows Jimmy Johnson, sound engineer for the Percy Sledge’s hit “When a Man Loves a Woman,” outside his Tennessee River home in Sheffield, Alabama.

AP

FLORENCE, Ala. — Jimmy Johnson, a founder of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and guitarist with the famed studio musicians “The Swampers,” has died.

He was 76. His family announced in a Facebook post that he died Thursday.

As a studio musician, recording engineer and record producer, Johnson played a role in iconic hits by Percy Sledge, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others.

Musician Jason Isbell posted on Twitter, writing “The mighty Jimmy Johnson has passed. A lot of my favorite music wouldn’t exist without him.”

Bassist and business partner David Hood said Johnson was a “friend who became a brother” and an inspiration to him and countless others in the music business.

”Jimmy was just an all-around phenomenal music guy,” Hood said.

Johnson began work as a professional guitar player at an early age and became a studio musician with Fame Studio. He later helped found the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, which became a recording destination for well-known artists.

According to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Johnson’s “distinctive guitar fills” can be heard on the recordings of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, The Staple Singers and others. Johnson also was renowned as a recording engineer working the controls of Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” and the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses” and other hits.

Hood said in the studio that Johnson could hear things that others didn’t.

”When he first signed Lynyrd Skynyrd, nobody thought anybody would want to hear that,” Hood said of the long-haired group. “But he believed in them, fought for them and never gave up on them.” The group immortalized the Swampers with a reference on “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Johnson always remained humble, Hood said, recalling how Johnson’s mother would host home-cooked dinners for “all these rock and roll people” in their small home in Sheffield.

Johnson’s son, Jay Johnson, wrote on Facebook: “He is gone. Playing music with the angels now.”

The Latest
The NICC Ice Fishing Derby and Winter Festival, the Midwest Musky Club Fishing & Outdoor Show and the Henry Decoy Show headline Go & Show this week.
The man saw a woman trying to stab two people on a sidewalk in the 5200 block of North Sheridan Road when he intervened, police said. The two began fighting when she pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the chest.
The man, 26, was sitting in a car when someone opened fire, police said.
The Sun-Times’ experts offer their picks for Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Eagles and Chiefs:
Man is unhappy that she refuses to consider or even talk about his proposal that they get a second dog.