Barry Beckett, Musician and Producer, Dies at 66
Barry Beckett, who produced an impressive range of recording artists from Kenny Chesney and Hank Williams Jr. to Bob Dylan and Bob Seger, died Wednesday night (June 10) at his home outside Nashville, following a lengthy illness. He was 66.
Born in Birmingham, Ala., Beckett played keyboards on countless sessions at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, eventually becoming an integral part of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
In addition to playing on such classic hits as "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge, Beckett can be heard on numerous recordings by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Dire Straits and the Oak Ridge Boys.
In addition to establishing himself as a producer in Nashville, Beckett was the head of the A&R (artists and repertoire) department for Warner Bros. Records, co-producing albums by Hank Williams Jr., including the platinum-selling 'Born to Boogie,' CMA Album of the Year in 1988. He also produced records for Alabama, Asleep at the Wheel, Neal McCoy and many others. In 1994, he produced 'Without Walls,' an album of duets pairing the late Tammy Wynette with Sting, Elton John, Aaron Neville, Smokey Robinson and Wynonna, among others.
Kenny Chesney's first two albums were produced by Beckett. The singer issued a statement about his mentor and friend, saying in part, "Somewhere tonight, someone listens to their favorite song ... odds are Barry Beckett is playing piano. He was one of the first to ever believe in a kid from Knoxville, Tennessee who used to sit out in the backyard in the middle of the night and stare at an open sky, knowing that there was something more. He taught me to put a smile in everything. That's important in life and especially to those of us who have music in our lives; who are consumed by it. My life is consumed by it and Barry Beckett is to blame and I am forever grateful."